Monday, December 4, 2017

Some Twitter Trivia... plus Futility Closet

I only follow 250 accounts on my Twitter feed… a relatively small, but manageable number: Dunbar’s number +100  ;) 
Recently, having too much free time on-hand, I noticed that of those 250 I follow, 122 of them follow Evelyn Lamb — Twitter gives statistics on how many of the people that you follow, also follow any other given account you follow. I was actually surprised that more of the 250 didn’t follow Dr. Lamb (might’ve guessed it would be closer to 200), so then decided to check out how other Twitterers stacked up — who among people I follow are most followed by others that I follow (...follow me? ;) — a tree or group diagram of all the myriad connections might actually be interesting, but then I don’t have THAT much free time on-hand!

Anyway, the top 10 individuals (I’ve removed groups, magazines, news outlets, etc.), with the numbers of accounts (out of the 250 I follow), that follow them are below; in parentheses I’ve added the TOTAL number of followers (for some highly-variable further context) each of these accounts had at the time I looked:

@StevenStrogatz       155          (36,100 total followers)
@EvelynJLamb          122            (7,433)
@DivByZero               121          (10,500)
(Dave Richeson)
@JohnAllenPaulos     118          (26,900)
@MrHonner                116          (11,100)
@AlexBellos               114          (24,100)
@RepublicOfMath      113          (69,400)
(Gary Davis)
@CutTheKnotMath     109          (15,900)
(Alexander Bogomolny)
@JamesTanton           109          (11,600)
@ProfKeithDevlin        106          (12,400)

All of which doesn't mean much; just idly interesting to me to see the interaction between people I follow — i.e., who do people I follow, follow. Among individuals, only Dr. Strogatz is followed by over half (62%) of those I follow. (On-the-other-hand, he’s followed, overall, by 5 times more accounts than Dr. Lamb who edges into second place in my group, despite having the lowest total number of followers.)

Anyway, other folks might find it interesting to keep an eye on their “followers you know” numbers.


...And for something more fascinating and different, this morning’s new Futility Closet podcast tells the incredible story (I’d never heard before) of Marvin Hewitt, a 20th century American imposter who taught physics, math, and engineering in various academic venues:

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