Bō Shuì

Cellular Trending: Fragmented Information Dissemination on Social Media Through Generative Lens

ACM-MM'22Bo Shui, Xiaohui Wang

Cellular Trending is an artwork that reveals information fragmentation on the social media through generative lens. It visualizes the fragmented information dissemination in social media with affective attributes integrated cellular automata to create artistic experience. A multi-level interactive system consists of CELL, FACT and VIEW is proposed based on information dissemination theory mapping to fragmented communication, thinking and reading. From information acquisition to opinion expression, the artwork resonates and arouses people's reflection on modern information dissemination and information acquisi- tion behavior in the digital age.

Video can be accessed here from Mainland China.


ACM DLPaperVideo
Shui, Bo, and Xiaohui Wang. "Cellular Trending: Fragmented Information Dissemination on Social Media Through Generative Lens." Proceedings of the 30th ACM International Conference on Multimedia. 2022.


Lison, Portugal, 10-14 October, 2022
ACM MM'22 Interactive Artworks Exhibition

System Framework

The information structure and interaction process framework of Cellular Trending system is shown in Figure 1.

Interaction Process

CELL: Fragmented Communication

The evolutionary behavior of cellular automata can be classified into four artistic properties: homogeneous, periodic, chaos and edge of chaos. From the social media trending, topic and content of the posts and top comments are crawled in real time and sentimental tendency of each post is calculated. The sentimental value as well as the hot value and rank index from the trending data are integrated as parameters into the iteration rules of the cellular automata. Cells in the automata represent individuals browsing social media. They behave differently in each generation as the sensibility of each cell is influenced by the parameters above and the distribution of topics is changing according to the cells’ behavior. The color, floating position and rotating movements mapped from sentimental tendency indicate active state of each cell. The distribution of gradient light and shadow of the space infers the overall state of the trending. This layer of iterating cellular automata maps to the macro phenomenon of fragmented communication of individuals in social media.

FACT: Fragmented Thinking

Entering the second layer, discrete cells from the automata cluster into topic bubbles, the positions of each topic bubble are calculated from the overall distribution of cells possessing each topic and are constantly wandering in the space. The blending feature of bubbles and lightings expresses the mechanism of forgetting and repression in the mental storage capacity model, creating the art of topic competition and information anxiety. This layer of bubbles fuses and clusters into each other maps to the memory system activation mechanism and fragmented thinking process in each individuals’ mind.

VIEW: Fragmented Reading

Affective words and emojis are extracted from the comments of trending posts using lexical and semantic analysis. As the user dives deeper into the content of the trending topics and interacts with them, affective words fall out of the topic bubbles and accumulate in the space naturally. Furthermore, if the user clicks the like button of a certain topic, which indicates that the user somehow endorses the content, emojis stickers extracted from the corresponding comments scatter in the design space and the sensibility of the cells possessing the topic is enlarged in the first layer of cellular automata. The semantic information exhibits phenomenon of fusion and disappearance of different information in reading fragmentation. And the sentimental feedback helps to arouse resonance from personalized generative art, which further stimulates behavioral reflection after the interaction experience.
This layer of accumulating affective words and scattering emojis maps to the fragmented reading process of individuals browsing the social media.


Cellular Trending takes in social media data and affective analysis into generative art to visualize the fragmented information dissemination. By integrating dissemination theory and mental storage capacity model into interaction process, the artwork creates progressive interaction experience, which tries to resonate and arouse people's reflection on social media information.
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