Skip to main content

Interesting Information Cascades

I recently read an article talking about information cascades with respect to specific phenomena, such as the likelihood of an incorrect cascade occurring, the likelihood of a ‘reversal of fashion’ where the overall consensus shifts, and a general analysis of the effectiveness of public information releases, such as a campaign to publicize the negative health effects of smoking.

One thing that initially struck me as interesting was the idea of a one-way cascade, where a topic can only cascade in a negative or positive direction. The article speaks about its own publication as its first example, stating that it is entirely possible for a negative cascade to happen. As soon as publishers reject the article, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find a publication willing to accept it. At some point reviewers trust the intelligence of the other reviewers over their own judgement, and it becomes impossible for the article to be published. However, as soon as one publisher does accept the article, the cascade stops, because the article is no longer seeking publication. In this scenario, there is the possibility of an infinitely long negative information cascade, but no possibility of an infinitely long positive one.

The article further emphasizes the influence that a few early individuals can have on the success or detriment of a new product. If all of the earliest individuals have the same opinion, there is a high potential that the information will cascade into the next few, and this only increases as the cascade continues. This example is easily seen in real life, where the initial reviews of new games or movies are highly indicative of their success. Indeed, rather than accurately judging the success of a new product, they are causing that level of success with the initial review.




Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.