Taste test

first_imgUsing data collected from Facebook, Harvard sociologists have addressed one of the great unsolved puzzles of social science — do we form friendships with people because we share similar interests, or do we share similar interests with people because they are our friends?As described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, the findings suggest that while people who share similar interests in music and movies are more likely to befriend one another, few interests are likely to spread among friends. It’s a result that challenges earlier research, which found that a host of social problems, from obesity to smoking to loneliness, quickly spread across social networks.“The idea that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is something we’ve known about for a long time,” said Kevin Lewis, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology who co-authored the paper with independent scholar Jason Kaufman and sociology graduate student Marco Gonzalez. “It’s not terribly surprising that, if you and I like the same things, we might become friends.“What we’ve been able to show, however, is that this phenomenon is not actually as widespread as we once thought,” Lewis added. “There are only certain types of tastes that breed a connection. We’re also finding that this very common notion that what your friends do and like rubs off on you is not very widespread at all. We are not suggesting, of course, that taste in movies or music necessarily operates in the same way that obesity or depression does; but this paradigm that ‘everything spreads’ — it’s simply not true.”The researchers gathered information from the profiles of students at an anonymous college. Once a year for four years, the researchers took snapshots of students’ profiles, recording their friends and what kinds of music, movies, and books they liked. That information was then broken down further, into genrelike “clusters” representing broad areas of interest that might diffuse throughout a network of friends.Armed with that data, researchers used a computer program to evaluate how students’ friendship networks and preferences evolved over time, and to model the possible causes behind the changes.“We used a simulation-based approach,” Lewis said. “So if we have a snapshot taken at two different times, the model examines all the possible trajectories that could have led from one point to another and identifies which is most likely.”Importantly, Lewis added, the model controlled for a variety of possible causes for why two people might become friends or reasons why someone’s tastes might change over time, ensuring that researchers weren’t misdiagnosing the causes of those changes.In the case of music, the results showed that people who listen to classical or jazz music are likely to be friends. The same was true for fans of light and classic rock. When it comes to onscreen entertainment, fans of raunchy comedies and gory movies are likely to be friends, as well as fans of darkly satirical films. Surprisingly, Lewis said, there was no connection between book preferences and friendship.Only one type of taste — an interest in classical or jazz music — was found to spread across friendship networks, Lewis said.“It’s not often you find a non-finding to be important, but I think this finding absolutely is important,” Lewis said. “There is a tendency to believe in peer influence — we all believe that what our friends like rubs off on us because it’s very easy to think of examples when that has happened. But we don’t remember the myriad instances that it doesn’t happen.”“Much of Facebook’s business model is based on the assumption that Facebook users ‘influence’ one another through displays of things they ‘like’,” said Kaufman. “If you say you like a band, product, movie, etc., Facebook purports an ‘influence’ effect whereby your friends become more likely to adopt that preference in turn.“What we found is that only in very specific instances does anything like ‘influence’ occur,” he continued. “This stands in contrast to an active research literature on the ‘contagiousness’ of various behaviors, such as obesity, smoking, and happiness, and gives pause at the millions, if not billions, of dollars spent every year on so-called ‘social media’ advertising campaigns.”last_img read more

Take That, Broadway! Finding Neverland Composer Gary Barlow’s Boy Band Past

first_imgOn Broadway, Gary Barlow is known as the composer of the much buzzed-about Finding Neverland—and in his native U.K., he’s something of a national treasure. In the 1990s Barlow made his name as the frontman of Take That, the Brits’ equivalent of the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync. After splitting in 1996, the band successfully reunited a decade later to huge success. Internationally, Take That has had 56 number one singles, 37 number one albums, sold 45 million records…and Barlow has pretty much penned them all! Check out our video history of this teenage 30-something’s dream below. He’s friends with SimbaBarlow did the backing vocals for Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King in 1994. Broadway fans everywhere have thus, without question, heard him sing. Why’d he do it? Barlow says John inspired him to play the piano. He made us cryWhen Zayn Malik was two years old, Robbie Williams left Take That while they were promoting the song “Never Forget.” Barlow’s anthem still brings a tear to many millions of 30-something women’s eyes. The band went on as a four-piece, but split in 1996. He answered our prayersTake That’s first number-one hit in the U.K. was “Pray,” penned by Barlow. He received the first of his six prestigious Ivor Novello Awards for the hit in 1994. If hot men’s naked torsos aren’t your thing, don’t press play. He got kinky with forksBarlow aficionados are aware that way before Jamie Dornan strutted into his red room, there was Take That’s video of their cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love.” Released in 1996 when the band was a four-piece, some very freaky things happen with a fork while they are all tied up. Jell-O made him a starTake That weren’t originally as squeaky clean as they were eventually portrayed—this infamous 1991 video of one of their early songs, “Do What U Like,” had them covered in Jell-O and stripping. (Barlow is the blonde spikey-haired boy.) Madonna inspired himAfter Take That split, Barlow tried a solo career, but unlike Williams, who went on to be huge everywhere but America, Barlow didn’t really achieve big success anywhere on his own. (If you count selling five million records as a failure.) This surprised everybody as they thought Barlow was the next George Michael—here he is singing the Madonna song “Love Won’t Wait” in 1997. View Comments Show Closed This production ended its run on Aug. 21, 2016 He’s pals with the QueenSpeaking of The X Factor, Barlow replaced Simon Cowell as a judge on the U.K. show in 2011. The following year, his status as British national treasure was secured when the Queen appointed him an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in her 2012 Birthday Honours for his charity work and general awesomeness. Oh and that same year Barlow composed the monarch’s official Diamond Jubilee single, “Sing” with a Broadway scribe you might have heard of…Andrew Lloyd Webber (who makes a cameo at 2:51)! Related Shows He climbed the Billboard chartsTake That were basically big everywhere but America, however they did almost properly break it with Barlow’s splendid tune “Back for Good,” which reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995. He always remembered his rootsTake That made a triumphant return—with new material—in the mid-2000s without Williams. It was such a success that by 2010, Williams was back on board (for a bit, anyway). This performance of “The Flood” on The X Factor was the first time we saw them all reunite on stage and it brought tears to many 30-something women’s eyes. He got Broadway to believeIt’s no wonder that mega-producer Harvey Weinstein believed in Barlow’s talents so much that in 2013 he brought him in to pen Finding Neverland. Watch Matthew Morrison and the tuner’s cast sing “Believe” in rehearsal below! Finding Neverlandlast_img read more

The Latest: Cycling world championships still on for Sept.

first_imgThe Premier League, English Football League and Football Association say in a joint statement there will be play “only when it is safe to do so.”They say clubs and supporters have a role to play in the meantime “in supporting the government’s guidance and ensuring community strength and solidarity.”The most recent update from soccer authorities said there will be no play until April 30 at the earliest.___A hockey team and a soccer club in Russia face being removed from their leagues after government financial support was diverted to fight the coronavirus. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___The governing body for cycling says its world championships will remain as scheduled the final week of September, drawing the ire of some pro teams hoping the calendar would be adjusted to accommodate marquee races that have been postponed. Associated Press April 1, 2020 The Latest: Cycling world championships still on for Sept. The Olympic flame will be on display until the end of April in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.Tokyo Olympic and prefecture officials held an official “handover ceremony”on Wednesday at the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima.The public will have limited access to view the flame, and organizers hope to limit the crowd size because of restrictions in place for the coronavirus.The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 20 and the torch relay was to have started last week from Fukushima. The flame has remained in the prefecture with Wednesday’s event merely ceremonial.The Fukushima prefecture is the region of Japan that was devastated in 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami, and the subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors. The Curtis Cup captains, Sarah Ingram of the U.S. and Elaine Ratcliffe for GB&I, will remain for the 2021 matches. The teams had not been decided. Players were to have been selected later this month.___Soccer fans from two clubs in Belarus say they will stop going to games because of the coronavirus.A leading fan group at Neman Grodno says its members will stop attending games and they have urged supporters for other teams to do the same.The fans have called on the national soccer federation to “draw on some courage and stop the Belarusian championship, as the rest of the world has done.” ___The R&A is postponing three amateur golf championships scheduled for June, including the Curtis Cup.The Curtis Cup was to be played June 12-14 at Conwy Golf Club in Wales. The R&A and USGA say the matches for female amateurs from the U.S. against a team from Britain and Ireland will move to 2021. The dates were not decided.The R&A says the British Amateur and the British Women’s Amateur will move from June to August, but that depends on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.K.The British Amateur had been scheduled for June 15-20 at Royal Birkdale. The British Women’s Amateur was to be played June 23-27 at Kilmarnock on the west coast of Scotland. Third-division club Uerdingen hopes to virtually sell out its 34,500-capacity Grotenburg Stadium in Krefeld with the offer of souvenir tickets for fans.Tickets start at 5 euros ($5.46) and go all the way to 19.05 euros ($20.80) for VIP tickets. The club says “panic buying for friends and family is definitely allowed.”It’s the only time that Uerdingen will sell tickets for the Grotenburg Stadium this season. Its home arena is being rebuilt so the club has been playing home matches at the ground of nearby Fortuna Düsseldorf.Uerdingen was one of the powerhouses of German soccer in the 1980s with a best finish of third place in the Bundesliga and a run to the semifinals of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1986. More recently it has dropped as low as the sixth division.The club hasn’t played a game since March 8 because of the virus outbreak. Officials from the UCI confirmed that its weeklong championships will begin Sept. 20 in Switzerland. It begins with the men’s and women’s time trial, and a midweek mixed team relay would keep riders busy ahead of the road championships the following weekend. That means the entire week is out of the picture for rescheduling other events.Almost the entire spring classics season has been scrapped. That includes races such as Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The first of the Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, has been postponed while the Tour de France hopes to remain in July.___A German soccer club is raising funds amid the coronavirus pandemic by selling tickets for a fictional game. Olympic officials have postponed the Tokyo Games until next year with the opening now set for July 23, 2021.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 Fans of Shakhter Soligorsk have also said they will stop going to games “until the epidemiological situation allows us to return to the stands.” But they stopped short of calling for the season to be suspended.Belarus is the only nation in Europe still hosting professional soccer games with fans in the stadium.International players’ union FIFPro says players in Belarus have reached out with concerns about playing during the coronavirus pandemic.___English soccer authorities say there are “no quick answers” to the question of when play can resume following the coronavirus outbreak. The sports ministry in the far eastern region of Primorsky Krai says it sees no point in funding player contracts for another season if it’s not clear when competitions will resume. It wants the Admiral Vladivostok hockey club to drop out of the Kontinental Hockey League and the Luch Vladivostok soccer team to drop down two divisions into the amateur leagues.The ministry says regional funding earmarked for professional sports will instead go into an anti-coronavirus fund.Many Russian sports team rely heavily on regional governments and state-owned companies for much of their funding. Primorsky Krai is the first region to impose such drastic cuts.All major sporting events in Russia are currently suspended.___last_img read more