Corey Inscoe

Power Law

In his book, Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky explains the power law distribution as a  model where a small group of people produce the most content while a lot of people produce considerably less content. This can be seen also something like book sales, where a majority of the books sold in a store are a small number of titles and the majority of the titles sell a much smaller number.

Power Law Distribution

Power Law Distribution

Shirky claims that this can be used to explain the difference between small community weblogs and more popular highly trafficked weblogs. “As is normal in a power law distribution, most writers have few readers,” Shirkey says. “Such readers and writers can all pay similar amounts of attention to one another, forming relatively tight conversational clusters.”

This can be seen in blogging communities like OP where the main posters are a small group of people and they all seem to comment on each others writing. The small group of people allows them to interact more with each other and form a tighter cluster.

“As the audience grows larger, into the hundreds, the tight pattern of ‘everyone connected to everyone’ becomes impossible to support — conversation is still possible, but it is in a community that is much more loosely woven,” Shirky continues. This is true of BlueNC. Although the community is small enough that there is some conversation, the group is not as tightly knit as BlueNC. There does seem to be a small group of people (mostly administrators) that do have tight conversations, but they are only a small sample of the users as a whole.

But with over 100,000 users and even more readers, there is no way for there to be tight conversation and instead writers are basically broadcasting their material to a large audience. There are hundreds of comments that other users use to respond, but there is no way that the writer could respond to each one and foster a tight community.

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