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Math Idle

The Math Behind the Hipster Effect 176

rossgneumann writes If everyone always wants to look different than everybody else, everybody starts looking the same. At least, if you use a recently published mathematical model describing the phenomenon. "The hipster effect is this non-concerted emergent collective phenomenon of looking alike trying to look different," in the words of Jonathan Touboul, mathematical neuroscientist at the College de France in Paris.
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The Math Behind the Hipster Effect

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  • This is not true anticonformancy. If you want to truly look different from most people it's not that difficult.
    • by duck_rifted ( 3480715 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @05:16PM (#48354623)
      Lady Gaga could write a book about this topic. I wonder if she could write a challenge to the mathematical model too.
      • by F34nor ( 321515 )

        Showed up to a rave in a suit and tie once, got called out for "looking like everybody else" by a candy raver wearing a MLB knock off T. Laughed my ass off at her. Irony was not detected.

        • Showed up to a rave in a suit and tie once, got called out for "looking like everybody else" by a candy raver wearing a MLB knock off T. Laughed my ass off at her. Irony was not detected.

          Good thing it wasn't a ska show, then she would've had a point.

    • just look at Mr. T, he was the fucking pioneer of that shit.
    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      This is as much anticonfirmancy as most people that want to hold-down a good white-collar-ish job with full benefits and matching 401K can do.

      Which is to say, that it's not really nonconformist at all. And besides, any counter-culture that establishes itself is a culture all its own, even if it is deviated enough from societal norms to where it doesn't mesh well.
    • If you've spent too much time being more anticonformity than thou, you've already done it all wrong.

      Stop looking at non-conformist types for what they non-conform to, how they do it, but why, and the history of the group, and who they are.

      Then you get why various subculture groups are the way they are. Then you get why hipsters simply don't get it, and why no one likes them.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )
      I agree. The Motherboard article made it sound like there's an oscillation between "A supermajority is doing A, so let's not conform by doing B" and "A supermajority is doing B, so let's not conform by doing A". What a real hipster has to do is figure out C, D, and E, like looking at cartoon chipmunks [fanpop.com] and other characters [nocookie.net] and getting the idea to wear an ankle-length shirt [pocketheaven.com]. Different enough that it hasn't caught on much outside the Middle East, yet still presentable.
      • by xevioso ( 598654 )

        Ravers back in the 90's used to wear very long t-shirts to raves, down to the knees, so that's close enough. It's been done already.

    • That's what the article said, but they said it with math.

      If you are down-moderated as off-topic for bringing up anticonformancy when no one was talking about it, don't be mad.

      rossgneumann did a shitty job with the intro. Let me re-phrase and then you re-try your comment.

      "Hipsters, in rejecting mainstream trends, seem to cluster around certain "minorstream" trends, how does this happen?"

    • This is not true anticonformancy. If you want to truly look different from most people it's not that difficult.

      It's worse than that. Rather than (more appropriately) just giving the paper a title suggesting they were measuring "popular trends", they... well, wait for it.

      It's not a "hipster" effect. While the authors may have analyzed it mathematically, this "effect" was noticed and even studies way back when hippies were the "in" group.

      So the researchers apparently were not aware of how -- you got it -- "hipster" they were being, by associating their study with current hipster culture rather than other similar

  • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @05:15PM (#48354613)

    I love it. Hipster-hate, in all it's forms, is the latest new thing! It's the latest trend.

    Which makes you a hipster. And if you were disparaging hipsters *before* it was cool, the you are definitely a hipster.

    Quick, get on board the hipster-hate train, before it becomes uncool!

    • by koan ( 80826 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @05:19PM (#48354645)

      Hipsterism was "uncool" the moment someone gave it a name, that's how these things work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I was pointing out how hating hipsters before it was cool makes you a hipster, before pointing that out was cool.

    • by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @05:27PM (#48354725)
      or you could, you know, not be a 15-year-old with an existential social identity crisis at age 35. You could also stop defining yourself around your consumption habbits.

      the real problem with hipsters, is beneath the beard, beneath the "ironic" whatever, or whatever knickknacks, and chockskies, are still empty soulless yuppie shitheads.
      • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @06:59PM (#48355483)

        I'm 41 with a gigantic oustache. I work in tech, live in San Francisco, like craft beer, and bike to work, all things associated with being a hipster (except my age). I don't define myself around my consumption habits; I just am. I like to bike. I like to drink craft beer. I like working in tech, and my facial hair rocks. It's the idiots out there like you who feel it's necessary to label folks different than themselves as " empty soulless yuppie shitheads." If you think that having a mustache or liking craft beer is what makes a person a shithead, then you are part of the problem.

        • you can't shit a shitter. Typical hipster, simply turn the problem around by simply rephrasing it, with no real substance or meaning.
        • I'm 41 with a gigantic oustache. I work in tech, live in San Francisco, like craft beer, and bike to work, all things associated with being a hipster (except my age). I don't define myself around my consumption habits; I just am. I like to bike. I like to drink craft beer. I like working in tech, and my facial hair rocks. It's the idiots out there like you who feel it's necessary to label folks different than themselves as " empty soulless yuppie shitheads." If you think that having a mustache or liking craft beer is what makes a person a shithead, then you are part of the problem.

          Hmmm, you're pretty close. What size pants do you wear, and how often do you wear plaid?

        • thats kinda funny, because as much as hipsters hating being "judged for being diffrent", 90% of problems with hipsters stem from them making very harsh, but every empty judgements of other people based purely on asthetical or nonsensical reasons. In fact, the entire essence of being a "hipster" is "keeping up on the jones" too far on a never ending search to be "hip" enough, owning the right trinkets, chotchkies, knick-knacks, that have close to zero meaning or relivance. You go buy "obscure" music records
    • by SJester ( 1676058 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @05:31PM (#48354777) Journal
      "Hipster hate" makes a great deal of sense compared to disliking other subcultures, because those other subcultures may not appeal to you but they're marked by their own clothing, behavior, and ritual. Hipsters however don't embrace a particular ethos beyond mocking other cultures. They appropriate symbols and cruft from different eras and movements and display them in a mocking 'irony' to underscore how 'uncool' is item X or garment Y. Of course their Ray-Ban sunglasses and Smurf lunchboxes are stripped of context but there isn't much cogitation involved, just peacocking. Put simply, hipsters are reviled across cultures because those hipsters are already hating you.
      • i'm a hipster [neyer.me], and i don't hate you.

        the things you ascribe to hipsters - those are more caricature than reality. if being a hipster is really about liking things before it's cool, you can see us as cultural forecasters. we perform a service for society akin to that peformed by record or film studio executives - we watch shitty movies and listen to shitty music, so you don't have to. you may call it peacocking, but if you think there's value in predicting the future of the culture - and shaping it - i'd s

        • by zieroh ( 307208 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @06:57PM (#48355463)

          we perform a service for society akin to that peformed by record or film studio executives - we watch shitty movies and listen to shitty music, so you don't have to. you may call it peacocking, but if you think there's value in predicting the future of the culture - and shaping it - i'd suggest that hipsters play a useful role in society.

          DO NOT WANT.

        • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @07:12PM (#48355581)

          Cool-hunting has been around forever and is done by all kinds of people, not just hipsters. Were hipsters in at the start with glam rock? Disco? New Country?

          Yet all those things were "cool" (for a certain value of "cool") once upon a time.

          So hipsters are at best a subset of cool-hunters, and not a very interesting set, because they differ from other cool-hunters in their stupidity, insularity and arrogance. Many cool-hunters want to find the cool and share it with others. Hipsters want to find the cool and keep it to themselves, to the point of denying that anything that has become popular is cool any more.

          Furthermore, you don't understand futures trading, even a little bit. Futures trading is about hedging, not discovery. They literally have nothing to do with each other. Futures markets are not predictive, they simply represent the mean of trader's expectations. They are an essentially homogenizing force. So if you think hipsters are like futures traders you are saying they are trying to make everyone the same bland and boring type.

          Another clue that hipsters have nothing interesting to say is their proclivity for using unconventional typography--such as eschewing capitalization--to draw attention away from the vacuity and falsehood of so much of what they say.

          Hipsterism is the practice of misdirection. Hipsters are lame people who have learned that attention is the scarcest human resource, so they can hide behind a few attention-grabbing quirks. It saves them from having to do anything actually interesting, useful or productive.

          It's kind of sad, really, but the hate they get is well-deserved, because they are socially useless people who are deliberating soaking up our precious, limited attention on completely pointless self-aggrandizement.

          • Mod parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Prune ( 557140 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @08:58PM (#48356225)
            This paragraph alone is enough to make a +5 post:

            Hipsterism is the practice of misdirection. Hipsters are lame people who have learned that attention is the scarcest human resource, so they can hide behind a few attention-grabbing quirks. It saves them from having to do anything actually interesting, useful or productive.
          • Another clue that hipsters have nothing interesting to say is their proclivity for using unconventional typography--such as eschewing capitalization--to draw attention away from the vacuity and falsehood of so much of what they say.

            I want to turn this sentence into a song.

        • by pavera ( 320634 )

          I've never met a hipster who wasn't uber interested in proving how uncool other people were. Mostly they find people "uncool" for being "late" to whatever thing they thought was completely awesome 3-6 months ago. I've never met one who wanted to be cool, at least not in the traditional definition.

          By definition they aren't interested in being cool, to be cool, you have to be doing what the majority of people are doing, and by that time the hipsters have moved on to whatever is next to avoid becoming "cool"

        • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @08:02PM (#48355895) Homepage

          we perform a service for society akin to that peformed by record or film studio executives - we watch shitty movies and listen to shitty music, so you don't have to.

          Are you actually serious? How about starving the shitty movies and music out of the market by not giving them a fucking audience? You're part of the problem, not the solution.

        • by Prune ( 557140 )
          http://thelastpsychiatrist.com... [thelastpsychiatrist.com]
        • by asdfj ( 3624547 )
          Hipster != indie. Hell, Vampire Weekend isn't even indie. Hipsters are not prophets of "cool." They're not some required demographic to seek out lesser known media. They're the bandwagoners who jump on to the latest retro revival trend and pretend they're the only ones doing it and nobody else has ever heard of Can or Sonic Youth because their parents weren't playing those tapes. But even if mommy and daddy only listened to pop and 80s hair metal, at least they still paid your rent and gave you the financ
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In my day, we called them posers.

        • by Prune ( 557140 )
          The name has changed, but not the substance. I saw more than I wish I had in the year I lived in San Francisco.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      It has ALWAYS been cool to hate hipsters.

    • I've discovered as I get older that a hipster is anyone under 30 that goes out of their way to adopt any sort of style that would not have had a definable context label 20 years ago.

    • I love it. Hipster-hate, in all it's forms, is the latest new thing! It's the latest trend.

      Nope. Hipster hate has been around since at least the 40's when it was associated with jazz. Hipster is a pretty much generic term for whatever twenty somethings are doing currently. It was used in the 40's and 50's became hippies in the 60's and 70's. The 80's seemed filled with a variety of alternative subcultures so they all got their own names, but it has returned for at least twenty years where I have heard the hipster hate in my trendy section of Seattle. The twenty somethings in the neighborhood are

    • by zieroh ( 307208 )

      I love it. Hipster-hate, in all it's forms, is the latest new thing! It's the latest trend.

      Which makes you a hipster. And if you were disparaging hipsters *before* it was cool, the you are definitely a hipster.

      Quick, get on board the hipster-hate train, before it becomes uncool!

      I think someone hit a nerve.

    • by Prune ( 557140 )
      There are plenty of substantial reasons to partake. http://thelastpsychiatrist.com... [thelastpsychiatrist.com]
    • I love it. Hipster-hate, in all it's forms, is the latest new thing! It's the latest trend.

      What's wrong with hippster? ... I love hippster. Nerdyness becoming the über-chique. That's awesome. For once, fashion has caught up with nerd-culture and not the other way around. In the 80ies it was Grundge and oversized, today it's hippster. Different name, same thing, basically. I can get huge and stable plastic frame glasses that are sturdy, cheap and let me see everything and I'm right ahead with the avantg

    • Quick, get on board the hipster-hate train, before it becomes uncool!

      Man, I think it's already been uncool for like 6 months. Get with the times already!

  • Why strive to look different? Instead act different.

  • Anyone have NCSA Mosaic for a Commodore 64?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Pffft. Amateur conformist. I get my slashdot by telnetting to port 80 and requesting it by hand!
      • by Agares ( 1890982 )
        Wish I had mod point for you lol.
      • Jokes aside, but I've been doing HTTP/web stuff since 1994 or so, I'm very familiar with telnet hostname 80 :) I've even sent HTTP .9 requests for a production server.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          Honestly these days the bulk of what I use telnet for is testing the mail servers. It's much faster to test SMTP that way than it is to open a client, especially when the bulk if what I need to know is if forwarding/relaying for a particular IP/range works or is blocked.
        • by jrumney ( 197329 )

          Pffft. Amateur conformist. I get my slashdot by telnetting to port 80 and requesting it by hand!

          Jokes aside, but I've been doing HTTP/web stuff since 1994 or so, I'm very familiar with telnet hostname 80 :) I've even sent HTTP .9 requests for a production server.

          Wannabes, the lot of you. I've been getting my internets by telnetting to port 70 since 1991.

  • As long as we all do it together in the same way!
    • That reminds me of a demotivational poster. "Goth Kids, being lonely.....together."
      • Or the clothing ad (forget which company, possibly late '90s or early 2000s) with a young lady opining that "I want to be different, just like everybody else."

  • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @05:25PM (#48354695)

    I guess that's why all iPhones look exactly the same then.

  • My wife often decides to hate things because everyone is “into” them. My daughter gets caught up in liking what others like for no reason other than that it’s the trend. Then there’s me who like many Slashdotters decide what to like based on what seems like good empirical evidence and an ability to just judge for myself.

    I think it is the dynamic between the hippster and trenders that give the wild oscillations in popularity for things and why trends come and go. Ironically it is the trenders that undo the hippsters as when the hippster/hatters reach a certain critical mass, then boom the trenders hate it to.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I take the skeptic approach, I'm not sold on new things just because they're new. I need to see a valid reason to use them; a benefit to whatever this new thing is over the status quo. With this mindset, I can tell you that the majority of new things are bullshit or are reimplemented old things trying to pass themselves off as new.
    • I don't think they forgot the "Trenders", who are identified in the abstract by the term "mainstream".

      Your daughter goes along, not because it's the trend, but because that's what people do. That it's the trend is beside the point.

      By being contrarian in nature, the hipsters go against the mainstream, and without awareness of what other hipsters do, they will tend to make the same contrarian choices. This seems to be a function of being aware of current trends, without such knowledge one cannot rebel again

  • If know one knows what you are doing, then you are original. Once all the major trendy stores start carrying it and it has a name it is mainstream. Once Wal-Mart starts carrying it, it is over.
  • Hipster culture is like a passive-aggressive punk culture. Both have a distinctive styles of clothing, music, and a strong counter-culture attitude. The main differentiation is that hipsters are less raucous, less extreme.

  • maybe we can get a vaccine.

  • John S. Hall (aka King Missile) It's Saturday:

    I want to be different, like everybody else I want to be like
    I want to be just like all the different people
    I have no further interest in being the same
    Because I have seen difference all around
    And now I know that that's what I want

    I don't want to blend in and be indistinguishable
    I want to be a part of the different crowd
    And assert my individuality along with the others
    Who are different like me

    I don't want to be identical to anyone or anything
    I don't even want

  • bottom line: everyone wears a uniform. i have my Hannah Montana underwear....somewhere.
    • bottom line: everyone wears a uniform. i have my Hannah Montana underwear....somewhere.

      I burned mine when Cyrus went off the rails.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @05:52PM (#48354997) Journal

    Not rocket science -- we saw the same thing in the sixties. Association with a movement -- "hipster" in this case, "hippie" back then -- although intending noncomformity, in truth only means conforming with a different set of rules. Or as Frank Zappa said decades ago, "Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform, and don't kid yourself".

    But -- and I don't think that having married a hippy has colored my judgement -- hipsters are a LOT more annoying. Especially if I get stuck behind one at Starbucks.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Both in the 60s and today, hipsters and hippies are distinct groups. "Hippie" is itself a derogatory term created by hipsters to mock those who thought they were hip, but weren't even close. Both terms came to be about the time people stopped being "hep" (the scene in the 40s and 50s was really a separate culture for hipsters anyhow, despite the term carrying over).

      • I get it. Hipsters drink strong coffee, dress in black, and won't listen to a band unless nobody has heard of them. Hippies dress more colorful and listen to more trendy music. I suspect hippies have sex more often. Neither realize that each group is wearing a uniform and following a crowd, despite any claim to being counterculture.

        Modern hipsters appear to delight in being as poor and bitchy a customer as humanly possible. In an earlier time, they would have a high mortality rate.

    • Not rocket science -- we saw the same thing in the sixties. Association with a movement -- "hipster" in this case, "hippie" back then -- although intending noncomformity, in truth only means conforming with a different set of rules. Or as Frank Zappa said decades ago, "Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform, and don't kid yourself".

      So long as it's not the same uniform as their parents, they're probably fine with that.

      • Not rocket science -- we saw the same thing in the sixties. Association with a movement -- "hipster" in this case, "hippie" back then -- although intending noncomformity, in truth only means conforming with a different set of rules. Or as Frank Zappa said decades ago, "Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform, and don't kid yourself".

        So long as it's not the same uniform as their parents, they're probably fine with that.

        Agreed. And they're probably not old enough to see the irony in that.

    • Speaking of hippies and uniforms, The stoner/hippie subset in the late 90's made me see it. My brother would always go for that kind of odd stuff that fit that style, and I thought it was fairly unique, until I dropped them off at a Phish concert. He may have looked different among his peers at high school, but damned if they all didn't look exactly the same at that concert. Desheveled hair usually in a white-guy-fro fashion, birkenstocks everywhere, and band/tyedye/simple t-shirts with ragged looking kh

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @06:11PM (#48355099) Journal

    Everyone knows the real non-conformists are the Goths.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday November 10, 2014 @06:12PM (#48355109) Homepage

    I like the idea that they're putting forward, but I think it would be a mistake to try to explain this behavior with math like this without dealing with other constraints. For example:

    As you can see, a clear tipping point is recognizable in which all lovers of small goats suddenly see that everyone is wearing Clarks, after which it takes a while for the lovers of small goats to all wear Timberlands. Until they notice that, and switch to something else, et cetera, until infinity.

    So what they're saying, I think, is that there's Event A, which is people recognizing that everyone is wearing Clarks, followed by Event B, where 'hipsters' rebel by switching to the less popular brand of Timberlands. Because there's a delay between Event A and Event B, people have all switched to Timberlands, making it the new popular brand, before the 'hipsters' realize it and have time to react by choose a new kind of shoe.

    However, it doesn't explain why everyone switched to Timberlands instead of various people switching to various other brands. Part of the issue must be some kind of market constraints, where there's some limits on which shoes people will realistically choose. More importantly, there is some level of social conformity going on in all of these groups. It's not clear to me who the 'hipsters' are, but I'm sure that among people adhering to the 'hipster' trends, there are some who are just following the crowd, as is normal. Part of the great irony of social movements that are superficially rebellious is that there must be a conformist aspect, or they wouldn't form a cohesive movement.

    More to the point, it seems to me that a lot of the phenomenon of what people call 'hipsters' are actually very mainstream. The real 'hipsters' were the cool kids doing this stuff several years ago. Most people wouldn't see it enough to complain about 'hipsters' until it became common and mainstream enough that they see it in their normal daily lives.

  • The essential tension of adolescence through young adulthood (and maybe some old adulthood too) is between the need for acceptance (i.e., to "fit in") and the competing need to distinguish oneself (to be seen as special or unique in some way). It explains a lot of what goes on during those years.

  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @06:38PM (#48355311)

    Hipster is all about defining oneself as a hipster.

    The rest of the world actually doesn't care.

  • by Zanadou ( 1043400 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @07:45PM (#48355813)

    "If everyone always wants to look different than everybody else, [then] everybody starts looking the same."

    Whoa. Probably the most insightful thing I've read all year. Worthy of putting on a T-shirt and wearing around (like a hipster).

    (It's turtles all the way down...)

  • What I find interesting is the recurring appeal of not conforming.

    It seems like nearly every iteration of non-conformity, from jazz-loving hipsters, to hippies, to the punks/alternatives, to the generally current crop of bearded hipsters ultimately becomes popular.

    Some of this can be explained by people who adopt the facile elements of these trends merely to appear popular, but many of these flavors of non-conformity end up having fairly enduring influence over larger culture which seems to be outsize relat

    • They're been "taught" that they are special snowflakes so they can't be part of the conformist group.

  • I gave up on conformity a long time ago (I suck at it) but I didn't strive to be a non-conformist (I would have preferred to be normal).

    Result? I've found that the opinions of others are all over the map. I stand still, they do the moving.

    For example, there was a time when everybody was wearing these glasses with really narrow lenses, like horizontal strips of glass. I hated them. I wanted the kind of glasses I've always worn--thick frames, big lenses.

    I get out to California, and for a year or two, peop

  • ...want to look different *from* everyone else.

  • hipsters... it's a derangement problem.
  • DEFINE your terms, if you're not really, really really sure that they're generally understood.

    What is a "hipster" ; I see the word used about every couple of months, and I've always taken it to refer to a low slung type of jeans, though whether they're on men, women, or androgynes has never been clear. And so what a "hipster effect" I guess would be what we call "builders cleavage". In America, it may be called "butt cleavage" - I heard the term occasionally back in the 1980s.

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