Bloggers and wiki editors delight in the low barriers to entry of social media. We’re doing something anyone can do, or so we assume. Research points the other way: Jakob Nielsen has identified a growing divide between lurkers and contributors.
With blogs the ratio is something like 90:9:1 (90% lurkers; 9% occasional contributors; 1% active contributors). With Wikipedia the gulf is even more pronounced, with active contributors making only 0.2% of the unique users in the US.
Nielsen argues that ‘participation inequality’ will always be with us – though there are some things that system designers can do to encourage participation. There are some things educators can do about this too, and I applaud the pioneering blogging and social media courses run by Philip and Robert.