Corante

Authors

Clay Shirky
( Archive | Home )

Liz Lawley
( Archive | Home )

Ross Mayfield
( Archive | Home )

Sébastien Paquet
( Archive | Home )

David Weinberger
( Archive | Home )

danah boyd
( Archive | Home )

Guest Authors
Recent Comments

pet rescue saga cheats level 42 on My book. Let me show you it.

Affenspiele on My book. Let me show you it.

Affenspiele on My book. Let me Amazon show you it.

Donte on My book. Let me show you it.

telecharger subway surfers on My book. Let me show you it.

Ask Fm Anonymous Finder on My book. Let me show you it.

Site Search
Monthly Archives
Syndication
RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Many-to-Many

« Comment Spam Solution | Main | Adolescence goes public »

January 13, 2004

Inequality

Email This Entry

Posted by Clay Shirky

I gave a half-hearted answer to Joi's Are Blogs Just post, explicitly ignoring the larger philosophical issues he raised from the "Inequality and Fairness" section of Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality. That was a cop out. I didn't answer his question because it seems to assume some things about inequality -- that one should take a position for or against it -- that I don't actually believe. So here's what I do believe: inequality is inevitable, and that being for or against it makes no more sense than being for or against the weather. Now there are many ways to treat inequality as inevitable -- you can adopt such a posture because you are or have become cynical, worldly wise, passive, or an adherent of realpolitik -- but I have a very particular way in which I believe inequality is inevitable. I believe that wanting large networks without inequality is like wanting mortar without sand. Inequality is not some removable side-effect of networks; inequality is what holds networks together, inequality is core to how networks work. Networks are deep patterns, but we have often treated them as shallow. Over the last hundred years, we have observed networks at work in a variety of places -- food chains, the spread of gossip, the electrical grid, the connection of neurons -- but we have often regarded those networks as second-order entities, whose behavior is mainly the product of their constituent parts. This is wrong. Networks are 0th order patterns, _deeper_ than their constituent parts. The way packets moves through the network is similar to the way gossip moves through an office, even though a router is nothing like an office worker. Once you network things -- _any_ things -- the subsequent patterns are more affected by the characteristics of networks than the characteristics of the things the network is made of. One of the characteristics of networks is a kind of structural inequality that holds things together. Call this a Zipf or Pareto distribution or a power law or any of the other names it's been given. If a system is large, heterogeneous, and robustly but sparsely connected, it will exhibit power law distributions in its arrangement, and that pattern will be reflected in whatever binds the network together, both statically and dynamically -- link density, popularity, messages sent or received, and so on. If this hypothesis is correct, there are two workable responses, and one obviously unworkable one. The first workable response is to exit the system by violating one or more of the core conditions.
  • You can get out of a system with power law distributions by giving up on scale. As Simon St. Laurent points out in Escaping the Googlearchy, one way to avoid the inequality of large systems is not to _have_ large systems. This seems to me to be an incredibly fruitful area of inquiry -- the web made us all size queens for a decade, but now that hardware, system tools, and most importantly programming talent and time are abundant enough, not everything has to scale. I believe we are seeing and will continue to see work on small systems that avoid power law distributions because, as Ross noted long ago in Ecosystem of Networks, a group of 12 is different from a group of 150.
  • The second way to get out of such systems is to violate heterogeneity. The US Army has systems that don't exhibit power law distributions of links in the command structure, because they control all the units. They can achieve hierarchical coordination by avoiding heterogeneity.
  • The third way to get out is to drop the idea that the network needs to be robust. If you do not require a network with the six degrees of separation principle, and can tolerate lots of cases where the nodes simply can't reach each other, you have much greater freedom in topological models. This is what Gnutella was like in its earliest incarnation, before the advent of super-peers. However, simply escaping systems that happen to have power law distributions is a really lousy solution for all sorts of environments we like to be a part of. This trio of characteristics -- large, heterogeneous, and robust but sparse -- is the one that allows us to have, say, billions of people separated by 6 degrees, or an internet where any two machines can reach one another in fewer (usually quite a bit fewer) than 30 hops. This brings up the other workable response to this sort of inequality -- accept it, but change its terms. Once you accept that there will be a power law distribution, instead of fighting it, you can concentrate on modifying it. There are several possible strategies here as well.
  • You can tax the system, moving more of X (whatever is being ranked) from where it is abundant to where it is scarce. This is how progressive taxation works, transferring money from those with most to those with least. The result is still a power law distribution (the economist Vilfredo Pareto called the distribution "a predictable imbalance" and found it in all market economies), its just got a shallower slope, and an average that's further from the #1 position and closer to the median.
  • You can limit the head of the curve. Sometimes this happens naturally -- even Joi Ito falls short of the number of connections required for a raw power law distribution on LinkedIn, while over at Friendster, they have placed an artificial cap at 200 links.
  • You can truncate the tail, periodically dumping those links that are below median or some other threshold. Brucker-Cohen's BumpList is an example of auto-truncation, though at a scale much too small to demonstrate power laws. I don't know of any systems that use auto-truncation at large scale.
  • You can also try to make the system more dynamic, by making it possible for new nodes to get attention. This is what Sifry is up to with his Interesting Newcomers list. These are not weblogs with a high _number_ of inbound links, but rather high _growth_. All of these responses leave the power law intact, just altered. The unworkable response is to assume you can destroy the power law distribution without also destroying (or at least altering beyond recognition) the factors in which caused it to arise in the first place -- size, diversity, connectedness. Last summer, a study came out describing the characteristics of the conservative mindset, which included, among other things, a tolerance for inequality. By this definition, I believe we will all be conservatives soon. Evidence that inequality is a core aspect of our large systems, is in many ways the signature of those systems in fact, will make utopian declarations of being 'against' inequality an impossibility for anyone who regards reality as a constraint on their world view. We can and should talk about the type of inequality we want -- right now, for example, most of the high-flow webloggers are men. We can ask why that is, whether we should do anything about it, and if so, what? We _can't_ ask how we can level out the difference between the high-flow end of the popularity curve and the rest of us, or at least we can't ask that unless we are advocating the destruction of the blogosphere. The interesting and hard question is "Since there is to be inequality, how shall it be arranged?" I think we are going to see an explosion in work designed to alter the construction and effects of this inevitable inequality (viz Sifry's experiments on moving recent blogs up the Technorati list) and I am optimistic about this change, as I believe the concentration of real thought and energy on what is actually possible, as opposed to cycles wasted on utopian declations, will be tremendously productive.
  • Comments (26) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: social software


    COMMENTS

    1. Stewart Butterfield on January 13, 2004 4:14 PM writes...

    Thanks for writing this -- I've been meaning to weeks to put together thoughts on this topic, but you already said it better. I'd even go one further: "... being for or against [inequality] makes no more sense than being for or against the weather."

    It's more than being against any particular type or instance of weather (i.e., "I am against this rain.") but similar to being against the fact that there is weather at all.

    Permalink to Comment

    2. Lindon Parker on January 13, 2004 5:29 PM writes...

    "… being for or against [inequality] makes no more sense than being for or against the weather."

    Well it depends on your view. If inequality = unfairness, and I think that's whay Joi's post was inferring, then being for or against it is important. It may be re-expressed as (generalising it upwards) "Is the power-law of blogging fair?" and if not how would we make it more so.

    Power-law distribution is NOT a given in the internet space, and I am sure there are several ways we could think about structuring tools and service(outside of legislative approaches) that would make them go away in the blogging space. Ths is a more interesting subject dont you think?

    We've wasted enough time pointing at power-law distribution saying "there, see, there!" Identification and self-congratulation about that is less interesting now than to say "hmm, what would make this situation change?"

    Permalink to Comment

    3. Lindon Parker on January 13, 2004 5:34 PM writes...

    ...dont you just hate it when a blog entry changes and this makes your comment pretty pointless...

    Permalink to Comment

    4. Clay Shirky on January 13, 2004 6:02 PM writes...

    _Power-law distribution is NOT a given in the internet space_

    I doubt this.

    More explicitly, I think you would like this to be true, but I'm guessing you have no evidence to back it up.

    I've spent a good part of the last 3 years looking at various network topologies, both social and technological, and have yet to run into a large, heterogenous and robust system that doesn't resolve into powerlaw distributions of link density.

    Can you point to a large network (>10K nodes, say) that makes your case?

    Permalink to Comment

    5. Kaleem Aziz on January 13, 2004 6:37 PM writes...

    "inequality is inevitable, and that being for or against it makes no more sense than being for or against the weather."

    Inequality can be looked at as you view it -- unequal amount of talent or unlike understanding of similar concepts. However, inequality can also be viewed as an oppression system where the unequals are at constant conflict.

    I will agree with your statement if inequality is seen as the diversity of how different people look through different windows of a room and disagree with each other as to the object inside the room. However, comparison of inequality with "weather" is not how I'd view it. Even if we can't regulate weather, we are not really as helpless in matters of regulating inequality.

    To believe that human society can't be regulated just because we cannot (yet) regulate the orbit of Jupiter would be like believing: "inequalities are facts like weather, therefore there's no point in having traffic laws (red, green and yellow)".

    So, yes, I think I understand what you are saying, but I also thought there were two parts to the definition of inequality -- one that is natural (i.e., okay) and one that is shocking.

    Permalink to Comment

    6. Adina Levin on January 13, 2004 7:03 PM writes...

    Will continue to push back on the definition of inequality. I think you're conflating the unit of measure with the unit of value.

    Will there always be some bloggers with much higher traffic than others? Absolutely.

    Is my password-protected personal journal, read by a handful of close friends, less "valuable" than a public weblog with many thousands of readers? No.

    Are low-to-mid-traffic bloggers writing about local topics in the AustinBloggers network less "valuable" than Andrew Sullivan? No.

    These sites are unequal in traffic. But they are not comparable in "value."

    Permalink to Comment

    7. Clay Shirky on January 13, 2004 8:11 PM writes...

    But Adina, I didn't say anything about value. I specifically avoided that term, because it is a producer of false consensus.

    Furthermore, *I'm* not conflating the unit of measure with the unit of value, because I'm not talking about units of value at all. Inequality _means_ unequalness, and I'm arguing that not only is unequalness inevitable when measuring networks, whatever you think of hte value of the thing being measured, but that that unequalness is of a very particular and predictable sort.

    And you flatten the point I _am_ trying to make when you say "Will there always be some bloggers with much higher traffic than others? Absolutely." This is too anodyne -- almost any large system that exhibits declining rank order will have this characteristic.

    What I mean is something much more rigid: as long as there is traffic, roughly 20% of the weblogs will get 80% of the traffic. Ditto links. Ditto mailing list subscription numbers. Ditto mailing lists posts per user. And so on.

    This isn't just about generic inequality, in other words, but a specific and systemic sort that should inform our conversations far more than it does, because it will prevent us from equating inequality with unfairness, and will instead point us to what I still think is the hard question: Since there is to be inequality, how is it to be arranged?

    Permalink to Comment

    8. Daniel Varga on January 13, 2004 9:02 PM writes...

    I really enjoyed your argument, but as a mathematician, I'm very concerned about the axiom you build it on:

    "If a system is large, heterogeneous, and robustly but sparsely connected,
    it will exhibit power law distributions in its arrangement, (...)"

    This is not a scientific fact. As a trivial rule of thumb, the more costly the link for the more connected of the two nodes, the more equal the network. I believe clear-cut cases of power-law distributions were observed only in highly cost-asymmetric networks, like when you link to a webpage. As an important example, offline acquintance networks (depending on the exact definition of acquaintance) are more cost-symmetric and more resource-bounded. This means they are most possibly not scale-free. But they are still very robust.

    For example, here is a paper about some networks that violate your rule: "Classes of small-world networks" by Amaral et al.

    http://polymer.bu.edu/~amaral/Papers/pnas00a.pdf

    Another important paper is "The structure of scientific collaboration networks" by Newman:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0007214/

    Newman observed robust networks with an exponential tail of the degree distribution. The wiw.hu online social network I am studying also seems to fit nicely to his so-called "truncated power-law" distribution. (It has 44,000 nodes.) These are much less unequal systems in any possible sense than regular scale-free networks. (I don't know what an "equal" degree distribution would be like. I do think these systems are unequal in many senses. But they are much more equal than a power-law would predict.)

    Permalink to Comment

    9. James Farmer on January 13, 2004 9:04 PM writes...

    'It's not the tools that make the rules'... are we spending too much time pontificating over the technology when the real question is of the people who use it?

    Permalink to Comment

    10. Tim Keller on January 13, 2004 9:48 PM writes...

    OK. Power laws are about mathematical inequality. Fairness is about social inequality. People are definitely getting the two ideas confused.

    If people feel that the natural way the network works (power laws) is socially unfair, then they need to decide what to do on the math end to make it fair. You can handicap some people, boost others, there's lots of options. Wasn't there a book about this, where people who were smart or talented had handicaps attached to them by law? Basically this is what we're talking about.

    What does a "socially fair" network look like, how is it different from a natural power-law network? Once you answer that, the rest is just math.

    Tim

    Permalink to Comment

    11. Matt on January 14, 2004 3:21 AM writes...

    Don't a lot of conservatives believe we are not altering the weather through our actions?

    Oh - I've got the wrong end of the stick, haven't I.

    Permalink to Comment

    12. Irdial on January 14, 2004 6:11 AM writes...

    A simple solution to the power law "problem" would be for someone to create a tempered popularity index which inverts the list so that the top blogs appear at the bottom of the list. In this way, the eternally popular sites would always be excluded, and the listed sites, would be a list of less "unequally" selected links.

    Of course, if the list became popular, those "meat of the sandwich" sites would (may) become popular due to the power law asserting itself. They would naturally be pushed down out of sight.

    The trick will be selecting a window on the curve that preserves a list which shows what people are fiinding to be hot, cutting out the usual suspects, whilst keeping away from the chaff at the bottom end. You would also have to keep this wiindow small, so that it was managable, and not a list of 200 sites.

    I'm speaking specifically about popularity indexes that track blogs.

    Permalink to Comment

    13. Seb on January 14, 2004 7:39 AM writes...

    Irdial: yes, that's pretty much what Sifry is on to with his "interesting newcomers list" at Technorati.com.

    Another idea is for everyone to adopt a honor code to stop "linking up", i.e. linking to people who have more links/traffic than they have. I doubt that such a behavior could ever become the norm, but wonder what it would do...

    Permalink to Comment

    14. cbrayton on January 14, 2004 9:02 AM writes...

    I consider the whole muddled issue of "inequality," conceived on the model of a broadcast network of micropublishers vying for mass market share, a red herring at best. (The "marketplace of ideas" is a bad metaphor (http://www.blogalization.info/conspiracy/TheMarketplaceOfIdeas) coined by a 19th century Supreme Court justice.) The question is not which micropublishers attract the most eyeballs, but whether the network can be made to deliver relevant content to those who need and want it. It is not unfair that most of the world is not interested in my blog on new research on Akkadian grammar — this is inconsistent with the fact that the vast majority of people want to read about Britney Spears' Las Vegas divorce — but the network is not operating efficiently if it can't make that content readily known to those who ARE interested in it. This is where Technorati's Interesting Newcomers feature, for instance, is pitifully inadequate. Interesting to whom? For what purpose? All it tells us is that some number of linkers-back are interested in some content for some unknown reason. That's not really that interesting, or useful. Knowledge is an ecology, not an economy?

    Permalink to Comment

    15. Ben Hyde on January 14, 2004 9:49 AM writes...

    Daniel Varga - Great articles. I think they demonstrate examples of the kinds of mechnisms at work that Clay enuemerates for shifting the shape of your power law. For example if you create a cost threshold to be part of a network then you assure that the long tail is cut off and as you approach that cut off the tail falls faster than the simple model predicts.

    Clay - thanks for writing this. I'm getting tired of people who want to argue about the existance of the these distributions and can't move onto the next phase of the conversation: how and why would you engineer them or how does one power-law network compete with another.


    Permalink to Comment

    16. Seyed Razavi on January 14, 2004 10:18 AM writes...

    If scale-free networks are inequal, their injustness only seems to be a factor of the preferential attachment in their growth. A meritocratic growth model can deliver real justice.

    I don't understand exactly how the term "unfair" is being defined but I do understand that inequality doesn't necessarily equate to injustice. I thought we had discredited notions of justice purely based on equality when we saw the folly (and futility) of communism and religious political structures.

    The Internet is not an unjust place even if it is inequal. Take Google as an example. It achieved its hub status simply due to its merits. There are countless other examples in this medium.

    Where there is injustice it is a factor of the limits of the interface between the Internet and the wider social and economic networks of the real world.

    It seems to me, to achieve justice we should examine the preferential attachment of growth within these networks, specifically:

    * The gender bias of economic networks (why are women less likely to be in positions of authority in our wider community? I don't think its a question of merit but of bias in the established hubs. I would be interested to understand why that bias exists at the psycho-biological level.)

    * The genetic bias of academic networks (why are Ivy League schools more likely to accept children of alumni than other equally or better qualified candidates? why are certain ethnic groups less likely to achieve equatible results in our education system?)

    * Why are certain nations poorer than others? (well, this one has many reasons but it's a question worth asking when considering why the Internet is dominated by the US)

    The nature of scale-free seems to indicate time is an important but not an overriding factor.

    As an example for the blogosphere I would point to the success I had with BlogShares which came later than many other blog-related sites and achieved top hub status (according to Technorati) for a period of time. Why? Simply because it was better at other sites in obtaining links (due to the way it incentivised links back to it).

    Also it strikes me that all discussions of equality and justice in ALL scale-free networks are value neutral. On the Internet, the value of Google versus some other site is purely subjective. Likewise in the blogosphere nobody would say BlogShares was more valuable than any other site. In the human socio-economic network, Mother Theresa's value is not equatable to billg's.

    If such analysis is free of value-judgements then why is it so important? Is it simply due to the fact that human beings are (for evolutionary needs) highly attuned to their position in the pecking order? If so, how much of the happiness of individuals is tied to their relative position within these networks? And in any case, should we even adjust our behaviour to increase individual happiness? Enabling the pursuit of happiness is one thing but changing the topology to somehow enforce happiness seems wrongheaded to me.

    And if happiness isn't the driver for these considerations, what is? Is it efficiency? Is it productivity? Is it progress?

    It seems to me that equality is enemy of efficiency and productivity whilst progress seems to benefit from the fastest possible growth rate which means reducing, not raising, the barriers of growth.

    Permalink to Comment

    17. Clay Shirky on January 14, 2004 10:32 AM writes...

    Daniel, yes, I should have added "low-cost" or "unconstrained" to my list of characteristics in which this arises. In social situations, I suppose it could be restated as "no limits to preferential connectivity."

    I'm working on an illustration of constraints comparing a city grid (no power law distribution), the hub-and-spoke system of air travel (power law with a "deflected" head -- the same pattern as LinkedIn, btw), and router connectivity on the net.

    And yes, the wiw.hu community is a really interesting example, as it tends to be contrained by the energy required to meet someone in real life, unlike, say LiveJournal.

    Permalink to Comment

    18. Adam Rice on January 14, 2004 11:00 AM writes...

    I also commented on Joi's "are blogs just" post, but I don't think I really understood the issue until now.

    Seyed above touches on the point I want to make: that a social network can be unequal but meritocratic.

    Right now, a disproportionate number of people reading this are economically comfortable white guys who like gadgets. And within the community of ECWGWLGs, there are some stars, like Clay Shirky and Cory Doctorow: their position in this community is achieved based on merit. Still, in some quarters, this automatically raises suspicions that perhaps some people are being excluded.

    But there are other communities of bloggers, like teenage girls on LiveJournal, that intersects little if at all with the ECWGWLG community. I have no idea who the stars of that community are (if any), but I'd imagine they have become supernodes based on merit, again.

    There's little stopping people from other demographics getting involved in some way in the whole online social network thing. If and when they do, they'll nominate their own A-listers. The fact that this hasn't happened yet (that I know of) doesn't make social networks unjust or unfair.

    Permalink to Comment

    19. Tim Keller on January 14, 2004 7:15 PM writes...

    What does a “socially fair” network look like, how is it different from a natural power-law network? Once you answer that, the rest is just math.

    On reflection, there's another problem which moots the whole issue, enforcement. Daniel's non-power-law networks can happen because someone owns the substrate and can mandate a progressive connection cost scheme. Nobody owns the substrate of the blogosphere and nobody will ever be able to mandate any artificial cost scheme over enough connections to make a difference to topology of the network as a whole.

    I just don't think it can work in the real world, even if we should. I don't think we should, so it's just as well.

    Tim

    Permalink to Comment

    20. Lindon Parker on January 14, 2004 8:02 PM writes...

    Clay commenting on what I said:
    ----------------------------------------------
    " Power-law distribution is NOT a given in the internet space"

    I doubt this.

    More explicitly, I think you would like this to be true, but I’m guessing you have no evidence to back it up
    ....
    Can you point to a large network (>10K nodes, say) that makes your case?
    ---------------------------------------------

    Clay you are mis-interpreting what I said:

    I DID NOT say: :"there are large networks(>10K nodes) where the power law does not hold as true" in fact I didn't say this was the case for any size network. What I said was that it didnt have to be that way and we could work towards a "farier" solution. That would be an interesting issue to attempt to resolve no?

    Mearly pointing at the fact man had not made a heavier than air flying device did not stop the Wright brothers, and as we saw, their solution was interesting when compared with the "there is no solution" (finger pointing) position. You now seem to be in this later camp....please prove me wrong.

    Permalink to Comment

    21. Lindon Parker on January 14, 2004 8:06 PM writes...

    Clay says:
    --------------------------------
    But Adina, I didn’t say anything about value. I specifically avoided that term, because it is a producer of false consensus.
    ---------------------------------

    I disagree, it produces an ALTERNATIVE consensus, dificult to quantify I agree, but in the end it is the one the audience/market values more, its the cluetrain thing OK?

    Permalink to Comment

    22. Daniel Varga on January 14, 2004 10:19 PM writes...

    "Daniel’s non-power-law networks can happen because someone owns the substrate and can mandate a progressive connection cost scheme."

    English is not my mother tongue, so maybe I misunderstood you. But these costs are not mandated, they are most natural. Writing a scientific paper has a natural cost. To make friends with someone has a natural cost. (Mostly time, in both cases.) Nobody owns the substrate in these cases. Web links are an extreme: they do have a cost for one of the participants, and do not have a cost for the other (the one with the gain). This is the most fertile ground for inequality.

    "Nobody owns the substrate of the blogosphere and nobody will ever be able to mandate any artificial cost scheme over enough connections to make a difference to topology of the network as a whole."

    This is certainly true for the current blogosphere. And maybe it is an intrinsic property of any successful, large scale content publishing system. I really don't know. This is not my expertise. But as a thought experiment, I really liked Seb's idea about "a honor code to stop linking up".

    Permalink to Comment

    23. Tim Keller on January 14, 2004 11:10 PM writes...

    English is not my mother tongue, so maybe I misunderstood you. But these costs are not mandated, they are most natural.

    My bad. I should've followed the link. Still, whether it's an artificially enforced cost or a natural property in the case of the networks you've studied, my point still holds that without ownership of the substrate it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to enforce a progressive connection cost on the blogosphere.

    "For the good of the network" just isn't a strong enough motivator to handicap yourself, especially if you're in competition with others who don't see any reason to follow suit. Status is an extremely strong motivator.

    Tim

    Permalink to Comment

    24. Tim Keller on January 14, 2004 11:26 PM writes...

    I DID NOT say: :”there are large networks(>10K nodes) where the power law does not hold as true” in fact I didn’t say this was the case for any size network. What I said was that it didnt have to be that way and we could work towards a “farier” solution. That would be an interesting issue to attempt to resolve no?

    It does have to be that way because it's a mathematical property of the system. You'd have to change the rules of math for it to work. You might as well try to find a solution that works if only you could change the value of pi.

    This is one of those things that really can't be done, unless you own the whole system & can dictate rules to everybody. Then you can make pi equal to anything you want. :) But in the blogoverse? Not a chance.

    Tim

    Permalink to Comment

    25. Lindon on January 15, 2004 5:46 PM writes...

    Tim,
    you need to read Daniels earlier posts to see examples of large networks that do not exhibit power law distribution, when you do you'll see there are instances of large networks "where the power law does not hold true", so already its "not that way"

    I agree the power law of distribution is immutable, but I'm saying its application to large networks is not mandated, and there are several ideas, including Seb's about downward linking social conventions(which, like Daniel, appeals to me) that may provide methods of dealing with the issue.

    Permalink to Comment

    26. Tim Keller on January 15, 2004 6:07 PM writes...

    you need to read Daniels earlier posts to see examples of large networks that do not exhibit power law distribution, when you do you’ll see there are instances of large networks “where the power law does not hold true”, so already its “not that way”

    Those networks have different natural laws. As an analogy, pi is natually not equal to 3.14159 in those worlds.

    Actually what it seems to be is, there's a different connection cost in those networks. But that's not a value we can mess with in the blogosphere, not without buy-in from all bloggers. Hey, if you think you can get the entire blogosphere to agree on a social convention "for the good of the network" and not have anybody cheat on it or go back on the decision, go right ahead & try. It's a nice thought experiment but it's just not workable in the real world.

    Tim

    Permalink to Comment

    TRACKBACKS

    TrackBack URL:
    http://www.corante.com/cgi-bin/mt/teriore.fcgi/1318.

    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Inequality:


    EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

    Email this entry to:

    Your email address:

    Message (optional):




    RELATED ENTRIES
    Spolsky on Blog Comments: Scale matters
    "The internet's output is data, but its product is freedom"
    Andrew Keen: Rescuing 'Luddite' from the Luddites
    knowledge access as a public good
    viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace
    Gorman, redux: The Siren Song of the Internet
    Mis-understanding Fred Wilson's 'Age and Entrepreneurship' argument
    The Future Belongs to Those Who Take The Present For Granted: A return to Fred Wilson's "age question"