Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Massively Multiplayer On-Line Twit

"Heavy users of Twitter, as Weiner used to be (he hasn’t posted since June 1), play a complicated strategy game. Like World of Warcraft and Halo, Twitter is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, but with higher real-world stakes. It is grounded in the first principles of game theory, including variations on the Prisoner’s Dilemma. You have to give to get; you have to get to give. Managing these ratios — deciding how much of your attention to expend to win attention to yourself, say — is the lion’s share of the Twitter action...Twitter handsomely rewards those with a capacity for risk and an aptitude for the social sciences, especially economics, game theory, psychology and sociology...In the days immediately after the Weiner revelations, according to the statisticians at TweetCongress, posts by Republicans went down 27 percent, while posts from Democrats dropped 29 percent." [Virginia Heffernan, NYT op-ed]

(nod to Kevin Lewis)


Hasdrubal said...

Why does every mention of game theory always come with a reference to the Prisoner's Dilemma, no matter how inappropriate? (How exactly does Prisoner's Dilemma apply to a repeated play game where players observe each others' behavior like they do on Twitter?) Seriously, people need to learn more games.

Max said...

Well, one could argue that life itself is a huge strategy game with the highest stakes available: Your life and well-being.

So, I find this kind of obvious ^^