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Bursts: The Hidden Patterns Behind Everything We Do, from Your E-mail to Bloody Crusades

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  449 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The bestselling author of "Linked" returns with a ground breaking new theory that will enthrall fans of "The Tipping Point"
Can we scientifically predict our future? It's a mystery that has nagged scientists for perhaps thousand of years. Now Albert-Laszlo Barabasi-the award-winning author of the sleeper hit "Linked"- explains how the digital age has yielded a massive, pr
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Published April 1st 2010 by Plume Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,214)
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David
Here is my dilemma; I truly did enjoy reading this book. Every page of it. But the author seems to be schizophrenic. In the beginning of the book Barabasi shows that so many seemingly random events behave, not as from a Poisson distribution, but obey a power law distribution, instead. This is very interesting; so many events in our lives and in nature, occur in bursts, rather than at random intervals in time.

But then the author starts a historical outline of a revolution attempt that occurred i
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Jesse Goodsell
Albert-laszlo Barabasi the Author of "Bursts" asks the question: "Can human behavior be predicted by applying the quantum physics principles of the Dispersion Theory of Particles?" If the answer is yes, then the trajectory of disease, ideas, innovation, and human activity could be predicted with a reasonable amount of confidence.

The book weaves the story of a medieval hungarian knight, who when appointed to lead a crusade to the Holy land, turns his army of peasants against the Hungarian nobilit
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Mina Edgerton
I should have given up on this book but I finished it anyway, expecting a payoff late in the text. Unfortunately, my initial impression was correct, and this is a magazine article pretending to be a book.
The basic idea - that most human activity occurs in short, concentrated bursts - is interesting enough, but all the author's supporting evidence could have fit into about three pages. The alternating chapters may be interesting to someone really into Eastern European history, but to me they read
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Rahyab
I wanted to like this more than I did. Was a fan of Barabasi's last book on networks but I couldn't help but find this one a bit weak. While the concept of "bursts" as a pattern to explain much of human activity over time is interesting it just doesn't seem to resonate like the power laws of the last book did. Also found the constant switching back and forth between the present time and some of the historical stories a bit annoying and staged. There were many interesting bits throughout the book ...more
Alejandro Ramirez
I had been craving a book since the plane took off for Munich, my logic was that the trip was going to be so busy, and there were still so many things to investigate in the travel guides, that there would be no time for leisure reading. I was wrong, there were many hours were I could have really used a book, specially the long train ride between Copenhagen and Stockholm, and the flight from Stockholm to NY. Only there, with just a small connecting flight to Toronto left, I ventured to the bookst ...more
Tlaloc
Being in the middle of a neurology/psychology book spate when I picked this up, I figured it would be more or less something between the two.

Instead, it was a clumsy combination of historical tale tied to the drab thesis which basically stated that people do things in flurries of activity . Very uninformative. Two stars is potentially generous.
Jim
May 25, 2012 Jim marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: try-again-later
I haven't read this yet.

However this book has one of the most unusual web promos, I feel compelled to share it.

Found here

http://brsts.com/

Joe Ginese
Nothing we do is random. Everything is within a routine or expected area of acting. Very interesting read.
Allisonperkel
I found the story of Dozsa fascinating and that story alone kept me going with the book. The concept, people are bursty and power laws rule, is nothing earth shattering. In fact the science part of the book amounts to a very small portion of the book. I felt Dr Barabasi was trying to write more like Malcolm Gladwell rather than writing something with a little more gravitas. In fact this book would have been closer to a 5 star book should the good Professor have told the story of Gygory Dozsa.

If
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Larry Gallagher
I'm torn in my opinions. The book was well written, the prose flowing, even a "page turner" in places. The content is an odd hybrid of popular-press level discourse on patterns in human behavior juxtaposed with a dramatic narrative of a 16th century Hungarian rebellion. As other reviewers have noted, in spite of the author's attempt to link the two, the book could have done quite well without all of the space devoted to the rebellion.



Regarding the scientific meat of the book - the author left me
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Geert Hofman
I have mixed feelings about this book. It has it's good moments and now and then I get the same feeling of awe and inspiration as I got with his "Linked" book, but by mixing the historical background story with his personal exploration of the importance of bursts in nature, science and humanity, the cocktail didn't really work for me.

I often get the impression it's more of a personal diary of glorification instead of a scientific exploration. If it had been written by another person than himsel
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Keith
Kind of a nerdy book, but a good one. The main idea is that things don't just happen all the time in sequence or even exponentially, sometimes surprises take place and this has an underlying mathematical model also. These 'bursts' occur in other places and times, not only in math. Many things in the modern world follow this pattern and other things that seem that way don't. The author does get a bit obscure in using a historical model for his idea: An uprising in Hungary in the 1500's. He altern ...more
Julie
This book would've been far more interesting had it been about a third the size. Every other chapter was the author telling the tale of some cardinal in the Crusades and a battle and.. well, I can't accurately describe it, because by about the third time this happened, I stopped reading them. I was intending to skim them, but I couldn't bring myself to even do that. Even if it did have something to do with Transylvania!

Now, he does refer to this incident from time to time, but it wasn't importan
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Tom
The author has another book out called Linked, which i have and plan on reading and I also hear is a much better book. In fact, one of the reasons I picked this book up was because Linked looks really good and this book has the subtitle: The Hidden Power Behind Everything We Do. Given that subtitle, how could one not have any interest at all in reading it?

Having read it...i wish i hadn't picked it up. He intertwines history with science and doesn't accomplish either one particularly well. Especi
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Boris Limpopo
Barabási, Albert-László (2010). Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do. London: Dutton. 2010. ISBN 9781101428429. Pagine 323. 19,34 $

Letto subito dopo la sua uscita, nella primavera-estate del 2010, ma poi non recensito.

Barabási è un fisico di origine ungherese, nato in Transilvania nella comunità Székely. Questo ne spiega, anche se non ne giustifica, l’acceso nazionalismo: gli ungheresi ritendono, forse a ragione, di essere stati penalizzati nel trattato di Trianon, al termine della
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Eniko
I liked this book a lot, but not for the reasons I was expecting. I thought I wanted to read it so I could learn something. (Who doesn't want to be smarter?) But in the end, I kept with it because it was so gosh-darn entertaining.

There are several things going for this book. One is that the author is very good at writing. He has an engaging style that makes reading his book FUN. It was great when out of the blue he would illustrate what he was trying to explain with a funny yet clearly relevant
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Mirek Kukla
I'm not really sure what to make of Bursts. I loved Barabasi's last book, and was excited for this one. But whereas Linked was a fascinating and focused scientific investigation, Bursts is a confused jumble of disconnected material.

For some unfathomable reason, Barabasi spends almost half of the book talking about a Romanian historical figure named Gyorgy, who led a peasant rebellion. The forced ways in which Barabasi tries to tie this material to his thesis are laughable. Another quarter of the
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אורן בוצ'מן
While it takes long to get tot the point it does offer somewhat different points of view concerning power laws and preferential attachment networks. I think that social scientist may get some new slants on this subjects and also some readers may be interested in the haphazard way scientific discoveries are made.
I am intrigued at the application of entropy to human behavior and its use in estimating our predictability.
The use of simulation to compare poisson processes, random walks, brownian mo
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Kylie
This one was a disappointment for me. I found the basic idea interesting--that the daily pattern of human activity is bursty--short flourishes of activity followed by randomness because I have noticed that pattern myself but I did not learn any more about that pattern from reading this book. Barabasi uses long drawn out examples to prove his point--I lost interest in the examples and skipped to the straight science. It was almost like he was trying to be Malcolm Gladwell, pulling together dispar ...more
Beth Barnett
I picked this up on a whim and found it to be a fast read and compellingly written. The author covers various topics from (mostly present day) scientific inquiry relating to human and animal behavior that pertain to his interest in "bursty" behavior patterns. Alternately mixed in is a recounting of a story of a history-making Knight and a military campaign from 16th Century Hungary and Transylvania.
I'm interested in history, so this eastern European story was fascinating to me. I'm still not s
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Ninakix
What's most interesting about this book is the fact that it reads like fiction. It tells the story, not only of bursts and new ideas around human behavior, but also how those new theories came into being. Writing papers never sounded so captivating - I found myself paging through the book just to see what came next. Unfortunately, I think all the story telling is hiding the fact that there's not yet that much there. The most interesting part of the book comes towards the end, when Barabasi write ...more
Ken
Feb 29, 2012 Ken rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
Wow…. This book has my vote for book of the year in the “Huh?” category. Most of the book is devoted to the history of 16th century Hungary. One immediately gets the feeling that the author is very proud of his heritage and wants people to hear his story… despite the fact that the history is only marginally related.

If you are willing to wade through the history you will learn some real scientific jewels… For example: Most email users don’t send emails at the same rate hourly rate during a 24 ho
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Mito Habe-Evans
Dude, what? Such a confused jumble. Barabasi interweaves an epic historical narrative of the 16th century crusades with scientific theories of social patterns and predictability, which seems intriguing, but the logical thread that connects the two is so thin I am left decidedly unconvinced. Yeah, the story of the battles was engaging, but had nothing to do with his main thesis except that one guy argued that the crusades might cause instability among the peasants and cause them to revolt against ...more
Debra Brunk
The overall concept of this book is interesting - and the chapters that actually focus on the math and science of human predictability were very interesting and informative. However, these chapters could have been developed a lot more, easily displacing the historical thread that just didn't seem to fit. Essentially, there are two 'books' here. One is the history lesson - which if further developed could have provided a bit more foundation for those of us having no knowledge of the crusades. The ...more
Nick
The organization of this book frustrated me. Barabasi seemed to try to emulate his title by writing in short snippets, each following a different topic and story line. Halfway through the book, he acknowledged this by asking how it would be possible for all of these snippets to come together, but that it was time to bring them together. Nothing changed, however, and the book continued to its end fragmented, disjointed, and difficult to understand.

Many of the storylines fascinated me. The story o
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Kasandra
What a waste of time and paper! The whole book boils down to: "humans pursue activity in bursts", and "if you know someone's past, you can use that to partially predict their future". The rest of it is a mix of Hungarian/Transylvanian history which was boring and pointless, some anecdotes that weren't very interesting for the most part, and even a made up company, LifeLinear, just to alarm readers who were probably falling asleep by that point like I was. This book reads like it was promised to ...more
Andy Wilkins
I found this book difficult to understand as the main principle of "bursts" just seems so common sense to me. Take the example of emails, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out people are likely to send several emails at once and then none for a while as opposed to a random schedule. Likewise, though I found the history of the Romanian Crusade interesting, it seemed that he took a lot of license in terms of attributing feeling and intentions and I just couldn't connect this and the sto ...more
Mia
Did not enjoy. Read over a 4 week period perhaps better if read in a smaller time frame. Did learn about the crusades and hungary which i did not know before. Bothered by the constant story switching and time periods movement. Great quote that redeemed the book for me:

"Are we fated to be forever at the whim of leaders whose private priorities drive their - and hence our - next moves, dragging us time and again into bloody quarrels? I heartily hope not. I hope that instead one day Lewis Robertso
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Nicole Marble
Some authors get right to the point with what they want to say.
Some authors love their own parade of thoughts they have trouble getting to the point.
This is the latter - a book in search of a good editor.
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Albert-László Barabási is a Hungarian-American physicist born in Transylvania, Romania, best known for his work in the research of network theory.
More about Albert-László Barabási...
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“Keep in mind that imagination is at the heart of all innovation. Crush or constrain it and the fun will vanish.” 9 likes
“Today we know more about Jupiter than the guy who lives next door to us. We can predict where an election will go, we can turn a gene on or off, and we can even send a robot to Mars, but we are lost if asked to explain or predict the phenomena we might expect to know the most about, the actions of our fellow humans.” 6 likes
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