Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Book and Experiment -- Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do

Albert Laszlo Barabasi's new book, which is for a general audience, is to be published today. Barabasi is the physicist (originally from Transylvania, which adds to his mystique) who has been promoting the science of networks since 1998 through his scholarly publications as well as through such books as Linked. He is now a chaired professor at Northeastern University in Boston, having left Indiana University not that long ago.

His new book, Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do, according to the publisher, Dutton Adult, provides an analysis of our electronic trails from mobile phones to the Internet and email and offers deep insights into the rhythm of how we do everything. According to Barabasi: We work and fight and play in short flourishes of activity followed by next to nothing. The pattern isn't random, it's "bursty." Randomness does not rule our lives in the way scientists have assumed up until now.

More about this book can be found here
. We hosted Dr. Barabasi in our Speaker Series in the Spring of 2006 and he spoke on the architecture of real networks.

Recently, I received the following message from Barabasi, which discusses an experiment to complement the publication of Bursts.

Dear Friends and Colleagues

some of are aware that I have spent the last two years working on a general audience book, Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do, that will published in three weeks, on April 29, 2010. Yet, it is not the book that I am writing about, but rather an experiment motivated by it that I hope you will join and enjoy.

BuRSTS is a performance in human dynamics, a game of cooperation and prediction, that will gradually unveil the full text of Bursts. In a nutshell, if you register at, you will be able to adopt one of the 84,245 words of the book. Once you adopt, the words adopted by others will become visible to you -- thus as each words finds a parent, the whole book will become visible to the adopters. But if you invite your friends (and please do!) and you are good at predicting hidden content, the book will unveil itself to you well before all words are adopted. We will even send each day free signed copied of Bursts to those with the best scores.

I am fully aware of the chronic lack of time we all suffer from. Yet, I do hope that you will join us in this fascinating experiment, being part of this collective Burst!

truly yours,


Albert-László Barabási