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Scientist Albert-László Barabási on What the Data Says About the Changing Laws of Artistic Success

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Some 20 years ago, Albert-László Barabási, alongside Réka Albert, coined the term “scale-free network,” showing how despite the belief that the internet put everyone on the same level, new forms of hierarchy were emerging within it.

More recently, the Romania-born scientist has turned his eye to the art world, making waves in 2018 as one of the authors of a study titled “Quantifying Reputation and Success in Art,” published in Science. Looking at the exhibition history of a half-million artists, Barabási and his co-authors argued that career prospects for artists were predicted by their connections to invisible networks of prestige.

Now, Barabási has put his mind to a realm that exists at the crossover between these two earlier interests, the web and art: the NFT scene. Last May, he published a piece in the New York Times looking at data from OpenSea to assess what determines success in the crypto-art space. The analysis showed, once again, that influence was extremely concentrated, with a few highly active NFT collectors dominating.

His paper “

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