In our paper on Competition among memes in a world with limited attention in Nature Scientific Reports, Lilian Weng and coauthors Sandro Flammini, Alex Vespignani, and Fil Menczer report that we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas. The findings have been mentioned in the popular press, including Information Week, The Atlantic, and the Dutch daily NRC.
A follow-up effort by Lilian Weng, Fil Menczer, and YY Ahn and published in Scientific Reports explores how virality of a meme can be predicted by analyzing the structural diversity of the early retweet network. This work was reported on by Scientific American among others. More information about this work can be found at Lilian's Website.