Multiclick

This is great fun and quite fascinating – do try it out. You get to click on a rectangle, then see where other people have clicked – many thousands of them.

This system is incredibly similar to part of an experiment on collective social navigation behaviour that I performed over ten years ago, albeit mine was at a much smaller scale and graphically a little coarser, and I deliberately asked people to click where they thought most other people would click. What’s interesting is that, though I only had a couple of hundred participants overall, and only just over a hundred got this view, the heat map of this new system is almost exactly the same shape as mine, though the nuances are more defined here thanks to the large numbers involved.

In my experiment (the paper was called ‘On the stupidity of mobs’) this was the control case: the other subjects got to see where others in their group had previously clicked. They did not see the clicks of the control group and did not know how later subjects might behave, so finding the most popular point was not as trivial as it sounds. I was expecting stupid behaviour in those that could see where others had clicked but it was not quite so simple. It appeared that people reacted in three distinctly different ways to seeing the clicks of others. About a third followed the herd (as anticipated) and about a third deliberately avoided the herd (not expected). About a third continued to make reasoned decisions, apparently uninfluenced by others, much as those without such cues. Again, I had not expected this. I should have expected it, of course. Similar issues were well known in the context of weighted lists such as Google Search results or reviews on Amazon, where some users deliberately seek less highly rated items or ignore list order in an attempt to counter perceived bias, and I had seen –  but not well understood – similar effects in earlier case studies with other more practically oriented social navigation systems. People are pretty diverse! I wonder whether the researchers here are aiming for something similar? It does offer the opportunity to try again later (not immediately) so they could in theory analyze the results of the influence of others in a similar way. I’d love to see those results.

Address of the bookmark: http://boltkey.cz/multiclick/

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology and teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems, of which I am the Chair. I am married, with two grown-up children, and live in beautiful Vancouver.

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