Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Wikitorials and the Snowball Effect

The LAT gives up Wikitorials, at least for now.

I think there are a few things to consider here.

First, trivially, anyone who wants to leverage peer production has to forgo old notions of quality. This is exactly why peer production is disruptive. I'll never read an NYT columnist say 'shitface', because of their focus on quality, but I might read RudePundit saying so, because of his focus on satire. Put another way, mass market notions of quality are exactly what peer production disrupts.

Second, I think the LAT has gotten confused between what I call the snowball effect and distributed scale economies. These are different phenomena.

The snowball effect is a function of complementarity; when you realize increasing returns from other producing complements (links, tags, comments, playlists, etc) to your micromedia good. Think Powerline or Atrios.

Distributed scale economies are about Web 2.0 technologies enabling communities of ultraspecialized microproducers to costlessly contribute tiny chunks of knowledge. Think Wikipedia.

Now, if we're after the most interesting opinion, strategically, we'd like to our dominant strategy is to leverage the snowball effect - not distributed scale economies, because we're not interested aggregating tiny chunks of knowledge. We're interested in finding the opinion that generates the most discussion, buzz, etc.

So, the LAT's made a good effort - but I think it's misunderstood the economics of the game it's playing a lil bit. If it wants to focus on Wikitorials, it should begin by understanding the distinction between different kinds of Media 2.0 economies (or by emailing me, if you like).

Oh yeah, and also by not getting scared by a troll posting a goatse, for god's sake (thought it was pretty funny). Not to make an asinine comparison, but /. and MeFi don't exactly shut down everytime someone pulls a goatse.

-- umair // 8:51 AM // 0 comments


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