Wednesday, June 15, 2011

participation inequality and sturgeon's revelation

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.

According to Google, 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', or passive spectators, however there's the most growth value in getting this group to buy more therefore activating them is key.

Marry Sturgeons Revelation to the Participation Inequality Principle and the argument arises that the main motivation for growing any online asset is not simply the amassing of 'fans' but is to turn that into an asset for reach, putting it to work:

- Growing the 1% that will create (the most loyal).
- Make it easy to share
- Rewarding those who's contributions have the most share value
- Shine a light on the best contributors so the rest of the asset 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.

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