Wednesday, February 12, 2003


Clay Shirky wrote a really nice piece explaining why the blogging world has a few "stars" amidst a sea of low traffic sites. It turns out that when consecutive selections are influenced by previous selections, you end up with a "power law" distribution that has a few stars and a slew of, well, not stars.

Since this is an unequal distribution people complain because Unequal Is Bad, and then fixate on the equation that describes the distribution. It's worth noting that even in a zero-coercion environment (people picking which weblogs they want to read is about as non-coercive as you can get) the notion that a few writers win big while most people don't strikes folks as...sinister.

The power law exists in weblogs because you need weblogs to *find* good content--the best pieces end up on high-profile blogs because that's where the author wanted it to be promoted, and that's where the reader wanted to find it. Any technology that strengthens non-weblog quality content location will weaken the power law distribution.


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