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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC Annenberg Awards Microsoft Innovator

Researcher Duncan Watts receives the Ev Rogers award for his work on Internet connectivity.

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism hosted the annual Everett M. Rogers award ceremony today. The prize honors “an outstanding scholar, practitioner of communication or independent writer whose own work contributes path-breaking insights in areas of Ev Rogers’s legacy.” These areas include cross-cultural communication, diffusion of innovation and entertainment education.

This year’s recipient is Duncan Watts, the principal researcher at Microsoft Research’s New York City lab. He has gained notoriety through his work on virtual networks and how things like disease, fads and social unrest can spread through a population. Previously, Watts was a professor of sociology at Columbia University and a research scientist at Yahoo! He has written several books, including his most recent, Everything Is Obvious Once You Know the Answer: How Common Sense Fails Us.

On Thursday, Watt lectured on how information circulated by social media can influence popular opinion. He discussed the ways in which social media can both spread rumors and contribute to positive social change.

The award is given in remembrance of Everett “Ev” Rogers, a former professor at USC Annenberg who passed away in 2004. He is known for originating the diffusion of innovation theory and introducing the term “early adopters.” 

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