Friday, March 29, 2013

Life and death of Internet fads

For the first time today I heard of the new internet fad "Hadouken", which consists in impersonnating Street Fighter's Ken's role while launching his lightning ball:

Meanwhile, your friends pretend to be hit with the ball:

This actually got me thinking of internet fads. Remember "Planking"? And of course the more recent "Harlem Shake" which came and left rather quickly? What about Psy's crazy horseriding "Gangnam style" dance, which also was the only thing people could talk about for a while?

How quickly do they appear? stay? disappear?

A quick Google Trends search reveals the following query volumes for each of the fads:

I find it quite interesting to compare the fad duration and fad amplitude (max value of the fad: even though the values are normalized, maxs can be compared between fads). Planking was the one of the earlier fads, its popularity was less intense at any given point in time but it lasted almost half a year due to lack of real competition (tens if not hundreds of fads attempted to become the new planking, from owling to batmanning without much success).

But fads now appear to come and go at much faster rates with higher intensities. Do people search more to keep updated on what the latest one is?

It will be interesting to look at the life cycle of "Hadouken" in a few weeks (provided people get the spelling right, I'm not even sure there is an official one!), I expect it will have a higher peak than "Harlem Shake" but an even shorter life.

I will also ry to gather some more data for other fads and see if there is a way to come up with some quick and dirty stats on these...

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