If you are a young public figure and will die an unnatural death, then I have good news for you! You will probably remember yourself for a long time after your death. Conversely, if you are older, are not a public figure, and die of a natural cause, there is a good chance that you will be forgotten over time.
Remembering those who died in this life has been an important theme throughout the history of mankind. Our ancestors remembered those who died by sharing their memories with the next generation in the form of stories and ballads. They would sit around a fire and exchange memories and hope that they would be passed down from generation to generation after them. Later, when the printing press was invented, humans began to store, collect and disseminate information on a large scale. The printing press made it easier to collect and preserve the memorabilia of the deceased because it is easier to store written information. Today, developments in communication technologies such as the Internet have changed the way we create, store and preserve memories. The Internet also allows us to analyze memory through large-scale data in a quantitative framework.
Remembering after death has been such an important concern throughout history that civilizations such as the Romans considered damnatio memoriae, or be erased from public memory, as one of the harshest punishments imaginable. At one point, many of us may have wondered how we will be remembered after leaving this life as well.
One of the common ways to assess academic performance is the h-index, the number of research articles with the same number of citations. This is a very important number in academia. The mean and median H-index of all peer-reviewed articles at the time of promotion in Professor at JHU Faculty of Medicine is 25 and 23 respectively. In computer science and math, scientists do not cite themselves as often as in biomedicine and there are very few young computer scientists with the H-index of 100. It is therefore natural to follow them on Google Scholar and find out about their research. One of the academics that I am is Swears Leskovec (h-index = 117) the co-author of the famous node2vec and an authority on neural network graphs (GNN).
So imagine my surprise, when I saw the diary of Robert West, Swears Leskovec, and Christophe Pott entitled “Post-mortem memoir of public figures in media and social media” in my Learned food. I don’t know any of the authors personally but from their work they are extremely credible and productive. In this article, the authors identified trends and analyzed how people are remembered in social and news media a year before and after death. It technically answers a question how long will your name be remembered by people after you die. We know what had to be done in ancient Greece to make it last (hello Achilles!) But what about today? So if you’ve ever wondered how to stay famous after you die, then this article is for you!
Robert is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Computer and Communication Sciences of the Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne, where he also directs the data science laboratory. Jure is Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. He is also a researcher at the non-profit research organization Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. Meanwhile, Christopher is professor and chair of the linguistics department at Stanford University.
Despite their varied backgrounds, the trio have a few things in common: they are experts in the field of artificial intelligence and data analysis.
In this short but fascinating article, the three scientists followed the mentions of 2,362 public figures in online news and social media in English (Twitter) a year before and after death. Those followed died between 2009 and 2014. They then examined the peak and decline of attention after death and modeled the two as the interaction of communicative memory, which is “supported by oral transmission of information “and cultural memory, which is” supported by the physical recording of information.
In order to track mentions, they combined the Freebase knowledge base with online news and social media compiled through Spinn3r, an online media aggregation service that tracks mentions from a comprehensive set of all 6,608 English web domains indexed by Google News as well as articles in the media of Twitter. For each of the 2,362 people, scientists tracked daily how often they were mentioned in both media in the year before and the year after their death. This allowed them to quantify the spikes and drop in attention that follow the death of public figures.
Analysis of the frequency of mention revealed that for most public figures, a sharp increase in media attention followed immediately after the death, with the frequency of mention increasing by 9,400% in the news and by 28,000. % on Twitter in median. The mean frequency of reports then decreased about a month after death and finally slowly declined to the pre-mortem level. These two stages are consistent with the two components of collective memory: communicative memory, which dominates early and deteriorates rapidly, and cultural memory, which dominates from about two weeks after death and slowly deteriorates.
Based on the study, the researchers concluded that artists remain more present in the collective memory as they tend to leave a legacy that can survive them for a long time, while leaders, athletes, etc. that are distinguished by the actions they undertake during their lifetime, are of decreased interest once they can no longer duplicate their actions. This is more pronounced for leaders. Artists also stand out in relation to cultural memory, while no type of notability stands out in relation to communicative memory. Ceteris paribus, an unnatural death, also increased the ranking for short-term mention. The effect of age at death was also significant. For example, on Twitter, the postmortem boost was monotonously and negatively associated with age at death. Likewise, the short-term increase associated with unnatural deaths was more pronounced in the news than on Twitter.
Separately, the study also found that Twitter users pay less attention to the death of a former public figure or leader. The deaths of these poor souls have been further magnified by current events both in the short and long term. Additionally, the researchers noted that future studies might also add language, tone, and attitude toward public figures a year before and after death to see if the study would come to a different conclusion.
To conclude, the researchers found that the largest post-mortem increase in English-language media attention can be described as an English speaker of any gender who was already well known before death and who died a young death. and unnatural. So try to get famous before you die if you want to be remembered for a long time!
And if you’re interested in ways to avoid dying prematurely and save time to become famous, consider finding other ways to live longer and attend the 8th research on aging and drug discovery conference organized by the University of Copenhagen and Columbia University. I’m sure one way to become famous at the end of life is to set a longevity record, currently held by Jeanne Calment (122.5).