Thermodynamic principles in social collaborations


Peng, H.; Zhang, Y.; Pirolli, P.; Hogg, T. Thermodynamic principles in social collaborations. Collective Intelligence 2012; 2012 April 18; Boston, MA.


A thermodynamic framework is presented to characterize the evolution of efficiency, order, and quality in social content production systems, and this framework is applied to the analysis of Wikipedia. Contributing editors are characterized by their (creative) energy levels in terms of number of edits. We develop a definition of entropy that can be used to analyze the efficiency of the system as a whole, and relate it to the evolution of power-law distributions and a metric of quality. The concept is applied to the analysis of eight years of Wikipedia editing data and results show that (1) Wikipedia has become more efficient during its evolution and (2) the entropy-based efficiency metric has high correlation with observed readership of Wikipedia pages.

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