What happens in Vegas

In a couple of hours I’m off to Las Vegas for the 2009 Society for Anthropological Sciences conference, where I’m presenting a paper entitled, “Frequency dependent biases in the transmission of communication technologies”. If any of my readers are going to be there (unlikely though that may be), it’ll be … well, it will be more compelling than the abstract that follows below makes it seem:


Frequency dependent biases in the transmission of communication technologies

Frequency dependent bias is a form of horizontal cultural transmission bias in which the frequency of a cultural trait influences the likelihood that others will adopt it. Previously seen as a unitary phenomenon, frequency dependence in fact consists of three separate types, each involving distinct decision-making processes and having different patterns of acceptance, retention, and abandonment. In particular, communication technologies, whose popularity determines their utility, exhibit unusual characteristics of cultural transmission. A brief case study from the phylogenetic history of written numerals demonstrates the usefulness of considering the different effects of frequency for the adoption of new communication technologies. More broadly, the prevalence of frequency dependent phenomena in various cultural evolutionary contexts suggests the need to evaluate decision-making processes more rigorously when evaluating the adoption and retention of cultural traits.

I’ll try to put together something interesting in the way of a blog post while I’m away, provided I don’t get sucked in by the charms of the city. Catch you on the flipside!

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