After many years of batting back attacks on the science fiction genre from critics who summised that ninety percent of SF is crap, the American science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon concluded that;
To say 90% of science fiction is crap is meaningless, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.
In other words, we must judge all other culture by the same yardstick.
It must therefore be argued that 90% of all film, literature, products, marketing, advertising etc is crap.
This law became known as Sturgeon’s Revelation.
Knowing this is useful when fending off the brickbats from social/mobile sceptics.
We should ask them to hold all other media to the same high standards that we hold ourselves (to paraphrase Jaffe)
According to a Google mouthpiece, more content is posted online in each day, today, than was created in the entire history of the internet pre-2003.
So, yes, 90% may be shit but the bigger the pie the bigger the 10%.
But the 10% still needs filtering
I'm certain most of us will be aware of the 90-9-1 principle of online communities.
Sometimes referred to as the Participation Inequality Principle, it's a fairly simple equation.
In any engaged online community around 1% of constituents will create content (videos, blog posts, threads, reviews etc), around 9% will comment, share and edit while the 90% majority will generally just watch.
This 90% are often known as 'lurkers'.
Marry Sturgeons Revelation to the Participation Inequality Principle and the argument arises that the main motivation for growing any online community is not simply the amassing of eyeballs but is:
- Growing the 1% that will create content.
- Make it easy to contribute
- Rewarding those who's contributions have the most value
- Shine a light on the best contributors so the community can see what to do
Notice I'm highlighting the 1%.
While 90% may be crap, the 9% can also be simply mediocre.
Mediocre being invisible it's as good as crap.