Growing inequality online

20 Oct

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.

3 Responses to “Growing inequality online”

  1. Stephen Davies 20/10/2006 at 8:05 pm #

    My theory is that the blog ratio will become more balanced in time. I imagine the lurkers will be those who have not grown up with the internet and don’t feel so comfortable with communicating online.
    However, fast forward 10 years when the Myspace, Bebo, Instant Messaging etc generation are further in to adulthood and we’ll see a lot more conversation and participation.
    I remember seeing a presentation on social media where one slide said “this is not your father’s internet” and it’s stuck with me ever since. It keeps reminding me how young this technology is and how far it’s got to go. The possibilities are endless.

  2. Charlotte M 22/10/2006 at 4:31 pm #

    I am a complete newcomer to blogging. As a graduate student in the field of mass communications, I can’t believe that I am now only being told of blogging’s importance. Even though blogs are relatively new, they are quickly becoming an integral part of the communications world. However, through my learning thus far, I would have believed that the percent of active bloggers would be a bit higher. I agree that educators need to be the leaders in communicating the importance of blogging. If it wasn’t for my current professor, I don’t know how much longer it would have been until I was introduced to world of blogging.

  3. MingLan 23/10/2006 at 12:55 am #

    I am a novice at blogging, too. With the appearance and growth of blogs, there are more and more people involved in the world of blogging. I am a user of personal blog as well as my space , even for me, I have to say that it’s not easy to express myself completely online at the beginning, because most people would like to be quiet participators rather than active contributors.
    It takes time to let people get used to blogging, and I believe the flourishing of blogs can be expected!

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