The society tries to be a power law

This was going to be a very long post, but after writing about 20 paragraphs of it, I decided that I should change it to be brief and remove all the references to my previous research (now you understand why it was going to be long).

Going to the point here, people have to be ready for the fact that human nature is to aggregate in a power-law fashion: very few people have a lot of <something> and a lot of people have very little of <something>. Nature (and I use nature in a broad sense here – more like “the physical reality”), although also exhibiting this behavior, acts in may ways to smooth this out. For example, the number of people I can know in my life is limited to the distance they are from me and how long it takes for me to get there.

However, broadcasting and now the web are breaking a lot of those barriers that nature was adding and making it easier for those “inequalities” to happen. Twitter is a huge example of it: it’s very easy to follow somebody and you have the tendency to follow who your friends are following and there you have CNNs or Ashton Kutcher with almost a million followers (at the time that I write this, probably much more when you read it). And that gives you power and people need to be ready to handle this unequal power.

The event that triggered this post was the whole Stephen Colbert and the NASA module name. He has so many people that watch his show that pretty much anything he enlists his people to do it’s very likely he will be able to get done. So he won the vote for the name of the NASA module. And NASA had to handle it by backing out of the idea to do it and named a treadmill C.O.L.B.E.R.T. instead.

And this morning, to make sure I wrote this (even being late to have breakfast and start my day), I watched this sort-of-interesting interview with Andrew Keen that talks about the same thing (but I think he doesn’t really get the core reason for it): the web is dominated and will be dominated by a few players and the rest will be followers. He calls this a feudalism-like system. Interesting…

Alright, now I can start my day.

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