There is hysteria about how powerful they will become how quickly, and there is hysteria about what they will do to jobs. As I write these words on September 2nd,I note just two news stories from the last 48 hours.
Subscribe to the mailing list. A persistent theme among people writing about the social aspects of weblogging is to note and usually lament the rise of an A-list, a small set of webloggers who account for a majority of the traffic in the weblog world. A new social system starts, and seems delightfully free of the elitism and cliquishness of the existing systems.
Then, as the new system grows, problems of scale set in. Not everyone can participate in every conversation. Not everyone gets to be heard.
Some core group seems more connected than the rest of us, and so on. Prior to recent theoretical work on social networks, the usual explanations invoked individual behaviors: We now know that these explanations are wrong, or at least beside the point. What matters is this: Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality.
In systems where many people are free to choose between many options, a small subset of the whole will get a disproportionate amount of traffic or attention, or incomeeven if no members of the system actively work towards such an outcome.
This has nothing to do with moral weakness, selling out, or any other psychological explanation.
The very act of choosing, spread widely enough and freely enough, creates a The future of power essay law distribution. For much of the last century, investigators have been finding power law distributions in human systems. The linguist George Zipf observed that word frequency falls in a power law pattern, with a small number of high frequency words I, of, thea moderate number of common words book, cat cupand a huge number of low frequency words peripatetic, hypognathous.
Jacob Nielsen observed power law distributions in web site page viewsand so on. We are all so used to bell curve distributions that power law distributions can seem odd. The shape of Figure 1, several hundred blogs ranked by number of inbound links, is roughly a power law distribution. They were InstaPundit and Andrew Sullivan, unsurprisingly.
The data is drawn from N. The current version of this project can now be found at http: The inbound link data is just an example: Yahoo Groups mailing lists ranked by subscribers is a power law distribution. Figure 2 LiveJournal users ranked by friends is a power law.
Figure 3 Jason Kottke has graphed the power law distribution of Technorati link data. The traffic to this article will be a power law, with a tiny percentage of the sites sending most of the traffic. If you run a website with more than a couple dozen pages, pick any time period where the traffic amounted to at least page views, and you will find that both the page views themselves and the traffic from the referring sites will follow power laws.
All mailing lists in the Yahoo Groups Television category, ranked by number of subscribers Data from September LiveJournal users ranked by number of friends listed.
For whatever is being ranked -- income, links, traffic -- the value of second place will be half that of first place, and tenth place will be one-tenth of first place.
There are other, more complex formulae that make the slope more or less extreme, but they all relate to this curve.
Now, thanks to a series of breakthroughs in network theory by researchers like Albert-Laszlo BarabasiDuncan Wattsand Bernardo Huberman among others, breakthroughs being described in books like LinkedSix Degreesand The Laws of the Webwe know that power law distributions tend to arise in social systems where many people express their preferences among many options.
We also know that as the number of options rise, the curve becomes more extreme.
This is a counter-intuitive finding - most of us would expect a rising number of choices to flatten the curve, but in fact, increasing the size of the system increases the gap between the 1 spot and the median spot. A second counter-intuitive aspect of power laws is that most elements in a power law system are below average, because the curve is so heavily weighted towards the top performers.Why the future doesn’t need us.
Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species. From the. My third post about typography in sci-fi has been gestating for a while now.
Indeed, it’s been slowly taking shape – you might say it’s been forming itself inside of me – for really quite some time. Why the future doesn’t need us. Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species.
From the. The inbound link data is just an example: power law distributions are ubiquitous. Yahoo Groups mailing lists ranked by subscribers is a power law distribution. Albrecht Dürer: The Genius with a Great Soul.
Albrecht Dürer was not only the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance, but also a unique personality, his genius coexisting with a pure, noble character. An Essay on the Principle of Population An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr.