Monday, August 11, 2008

Can the Elliott Wave Predict Library Usage Patterns?

In the 1930's, Ralph Nelson Elliott, a corporate accountant, studied financial market price movements. He observed that certain patterns repeated themselves and what may appear to be random and unrelated actually create a recognizable pattern. Elliott called his discovery "The Elliott Wave Principle."

While the theory is applied mostly to financial and commodity markets, the Elliott Wave addresses much more: it attempts to find patterns that underlie collective society. It can been viewed as a measure of mass human activity that can be applied to socio patterns as well (see: The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior and the New Science of Socionomics) These patterns underly the forces that drives the trends in human affairs from politics to popular culture.

Robert Prechter, in his book "At the Crest of the Tidal Wave," argues that using the Elliott wave principle that we are at the crest of a tidal wave of change in the public mood that will stall or reverse a 200 year cycle of rising Western European prosperity. Prechter predicts " the darkening of the social mood produces a falling stock market and ultimately, social upheaval." Yep, Wave theorists paint a extremely depressing picture of the future.

I am still trying to get a grasp of the concept, but essentially, the idea is that when quantified and graphed human activity creates a common and predictable 'wave' pattern. The trend line moves up or down the graph with the primary trend impulsively. These impulsive (dramatic) moves come in stair-step fashion, five waves at a time. Waves 1, 3, and 5 progress and waves 2 and 4 regress (or correct).

The total move in the direction of the primary trend progresses because the sum of waves 1, 3, and 5 exceeds the sum of waves 2 and 4. Waves 1, 3, and 5 move in the direction of the primary trend, while waves 2 and 4 can either move in the opposite direction or sideways.

The pattern is repeated on the decline as well as the incline. I believe that Wave and stock market watchers see the Great Depression as wave (4); the 2000 market as wave (5); we are heading down to corrective wave (A) - where Wave followers predict the Dow will drop to 1000. (You are saying by now "Thanks, Eric, for brightening my day!)

Assuming that there is something to the principle, I wonder if one looks at circulation, gate count, interlibrary loan, reference transactions if the Elliott Wave will show itself.
I will try to grab some stats in the upcoming month and report back if the Wave pattern emerges, or not.

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1 comment:

Jeff Scott said...

I think you made my brain explode. I am not sure if I really understand the principle here. I know from looking at my stats in the last five years, everything has gone up. I can get to the core of our usage to see what was the leader or cause of the increase. I have a lot of stats, and I would like to participate in your experiment. I am not sure how I would do that though.