Quotes & Questions - Chapter 5: Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production

Wikipedia’s self-correction process (Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales calls it “self-healing”) is very robust. There is considerable value created by the public review process that is continually ongoing on Wikipedia – value that is very easy to underestimate, for those who have not experienced it adequately. (quoting Larry Sanger, p. 116)
Search Wikipedia for an article related to your field or possible dissertation topic.
  • Describe the accuracy and detail of the article.
  • Were the results surprising?

Any system described by a power law, where mean, median, and mode are so different, has several curious effects. The first is that, by definition, most participants are below average. This sounds strange to may ears, as we are used to a world where average means middle, which is to say where average is the same as the median. You can see this “below average” phenomenon at work in the economist’s joke: Bill Gates walks into a bar, and suddenly everyone in the bar also acquires a below-average income. The other surprise of such systems is that as they get larger, the imbalance between the few and the many gets larger, not smaller. As we get more weblogs, or more MySpace pages, or more YouTube videos, the gap between the material that gets the most attention and merely average attention will grow, as will the gap between average and median. (p. 127)
  • Which systems can you identify that are largely described by power laws?
  • What does this tell us about the systems?
  • Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody. New York: The Penguin Press.
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