Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, December 26, 2020

I don’t know how much of a secret it is that, when it comes to social networking or other audience-participation activities, most of the action is fueled by a minority sliver of the total users.

I’ve always referred to these activists as the vanguard, i.e. those committed (or addicted) participants who feel an especially tight bond with the larger whole, and devote more time and attention to it than their fellow members. This manifests itself in a range of social groupings, from professional associations to politics to hobbyist pursuits. Essentially, this vanguard provides the momentum and guidance, as tempered by the greater membership; it’s a symbiotic relationship, and a natural group dynamic.

When it comes to online community-building, the same dynamic applies. I guess the user-generated ethos of the Web was supposed to turn the old rules on their heads, but indeed, human nature overrides the possibility of any leveling-out of this vanguard class.

Two recent models have emerged to illustrate this persistence among the range of social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and even blogs):

1. The 90-9-1 principle, which simply states:

- 90% of users are the “audience”, or lurkers. The people tend to read or observe, but don’t actively contribute.

- 9% of users are “editors”, sometimes modifying content or adding to an existing thread, but rarely create content from scratch.

- 1% of users are “creators”, driving large amounts of the social group’s activity. More often than not, these people are driving a vast percentage of the site’s new content, threads, and activity.

Simple, if a bit too simple. For a rule of thumb it works, even if some of the larger sites out there are heavily skewed away from this: For instance, YouTube, Flickr, and Wikipedia all run on active user participation, or vanguards, that comprise well under 1 percent of each site’s total traffic/registration population.

2. Forrester Research’s Social Technographics profiling offers a similar minority report on who drives how much of active online content, although it defines that activity differently:

…when it comes to social content 21% of online US consumers are Creators, 37% are Critics (those who react to content created by others), and 69% are Spectators.

Forrester’s definitions involve a good deal of overlap between those above categories, as well as others. Plus, Forrester’s breakdown takes into account the online interaction of Web surfers across all the sites they visit, versus the 90-9-1’s application to just the self-contained ecosystem of a single website.

Still, in both cases, we see a decided minority of users who provide the churn. Most people like to passively absorb the media information as presented to them, rather than contribute/create their own; I’d guess their chief action option is to exercise their right to stop visiting if the content on a site doesn’t suit their tastes. The vanguard within those larger communities take an active role in content creation, and as a result, feel a closer affinity and sense of ownership relating to their online hangout.

Again, I don’t know how new this is to most. But it’s a new iteration on an established human-behavior pattern, and always helpful to keep in mind when dissecting why we act the way we do in groups, online and off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/26/2008 05:49pm
Category: Creative, Politics, Social Media Online, Society
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When it comes to currying favor with Afghan warlords versus the Taliban and al-Qaeda, CIA agents have opened up a pharmaceutical front, aimed at the libido:

For some U.S. operatives in Afghanistan, Western drugs such as Viagra were just part of a long list of enticements available for use in special cases. Two veteran officers familiar with such practices said Viagra was offered rarely, and only to older tribal officials for whom the drug would hold special appeal. While such sexual performance drugs are generally unavailable in the remote areas where the agency’s teams operated, they have been sold in some Kabul street markets since at least 2003 and were known by reputation elsewhere.

“You didn’t hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones,” said one retired operative familiar with the drug’s use in Afghanistan. Afghan tribal leaders often had four wives — the maximum number allowed by the Koran — and aging village patriarchs were easily sold on the utility of a pill that could “put them back in an authoritative position,” the official said.

Little blue pills could be just the first step in this effort. Why not unleash the entire spectrum of happy drugs that the Western biopharm industry produces? Blood pressure medicines, botox, steroids, anti-depressants — the possibilities are endless. It could put an entirely different face on these Middle East scrub wars. And it’s not like any industry ever went broke by being a government supplier.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/26/2008 04:59pm
Category: Creative, Politics, Society
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I looked it up, and sure enough, “dozenth” is a proper word. An alternate, and I suppose more colorful, way of saying “twelfth”.

It’s an odd-looking ordinal, though — both spoken and spelled out. And it’s hard to imagine it coming up in regular English usage — how often to you count off in dozens? Maybe if you’re an egg farmer.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/26/2008 04:31pm
Category: Wordsmithing
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