Brad Berens on “How Big Can the Web Get?”


Brad Berens commented on my How Big Can the Web Get? post that online to offline isn’t as interesting a question as heavy versus light use. I responded that I agree that the yearly dropoff rates are a relationally small number. He mentions the Nielsen Media findings of a few years back that the average American has 96 TV channels at his or her disposal but only watches about 15.

His thought is that it might be pre-emptive media filtering to me and I asked if that information had generational boundaries and took into account sites like ManiaTV.

If generational, we could be witnessing voluntary simplification on the web. This is something NextStage has been seeing for a bit and there’s not enough real evidence for it to be anything more than an interesting anecdote at present.

I agree with Brad that an interesting research venue is heavy versus light use, what Brad writes as “…an increase in the number of websites visited per session/day/week versus a more static number, etc.” This is something I think is going to be directly addressed by portals and especially portals where the visitor can place “browser windows” where they want, something alluded to in my recent IMedia piece on the death of the webpage.

Also, I think another question moving forward is what impact internet television is going to have on what people watch and how they watch it. I’ve been having some interesting talks with Drew Massey and Jason Damata of ManiaTV in preparation for an IMedia column. Interesting things are happening and, you betcha, what gets measured and how it gets measured is going to change.

What does this do to quorums? Not much, I think. The joy of quorums and quorum sensing is that they are elements of The Village (hate to harp on that concept and I do think it’s a powerful one). They come and go as required and are psychologically mobile, fluid, dynamic. Their size is more dependent on what the quorum needs to get done than the number of people willing to take part. Too large a social construct for a given function and it fractionates. Subgroups form which take on specific subfunctions, each group growing or fractionating until the optimal size for performing its function is reached. Bandura’s work pretty much confirms this, I think; quorums (groups) will form and dissolve based more on the group’s belief it can achieve some goal it defines for itself.

Quorum will sense they can form or not and that will continue. New media and new technology will only provide different petri-dishes, if you will. Society as a whole will only recognize the quorums have formed once the quorums begin to crawl out of the dish.

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Reader Comments

Hello. Some of my regular readers emailed me and flattered me greatly. They noticed I wasn’t blogging as much as usual. Was everything alright?

To anyone else wondering, yes, everything’s fine. I’ve been busy, NextStage is starting the new year far busier than I (and the rest of us, for that matter) anticipated.

I am very flattered by the concern. It is, to me, an example of The Village once again. That readers feel free enough to contact me with a concern means a society (granted, a small one) has formed around this blog. Wow. I mean, really, Wow!.

One comment I recently received did give me a chuckle. As often happens, a similar theme will come into my life from many directions at once. I take such things as a clue to pay attention. In this case, I was talking with a regular reader who offered that my lack of training as a marketer — specifically my lack on education in the interactive sector of the web market — gives an interesting cachet of credibility.

Like Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, I guess my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none. The reader offered that my credibility comes from being the outsider. He liked my perspective because I’m not carrying the preconceptions of others in the field. A few days later I was talking with a client who expressed the same thing to me. I make the team at her agency think because I say things differently than they do. It reminded me of something in an evaluation written by someone in one of our trainings:
“…all of a sudden with a clear understanding of something you didn’t even know existed before you started. And it turns out to be something that’s important to you! Amazing. What good does it do to tell you his methods are unorthodox? Probably not much. I attended every session, and if I were going to another tomorrow, I still wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to expect.”

I’m learning that blogs can and often are vectors of personality, making each blog unique to and uniquely the online voice of the blogger. Thanks for listening.

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How Big Can the Web Get?

Yes, okay, I’ll admit it. I’m reading again. Yes, I’m once again distilling from disparate sources to generate one single idea which (I hope) will be of value. I’ve written previously about my habit of reading and researching and reading and researching and then just letting ideas come to the surface. This time I was reading about ecosystems. I actually read this information several months back. Today I’m cleaning off my desk and found the material again so reread it and my notes.

By the time this post is out, my post on Quorum Sensing may seem like old hat, yet the two go together. I promised in the Quorum Sensing post that I just knew there was a mathematical tie between the two and yep, by golly, my notes on ecosystem development seem to be it. Even more so since my friend Brad Berens commented on the post and I promised to get back to him on it.

I’d written a while back about attending a Boston KM Forum conference on dark blogs. One statement made at that conference is that blogs are going to peak out soon. I’m not so sure about that and have provided pro and con links at the end of this post.

My unsurety comes an ecosystem perspective on the web in general and the blogosphere in particular. If the question is “Will web use in general and blogs interaction in particular increase indefinitely?” then I think the answer has to do with three major factors;

  1. Access
  2. The number of people willing to go online at any one point in time
  3. The number of people who simply stop going online for some reason (and I don’t think this is a real factor due to societilization factors, meaning people are now being trained to seek expertise on the web rather than from a book or some other information source)

Consider item 1: Access is increasing every day. Technology is making the web accessible to the remotest areas imaginable.

Item 2: The nature of the web and blogging give them the ability to address different needs rapidly and compare this to…

Item 3: Needs which are no longer met or not longer need to be met.

The gift of the web is communication and the ability for groups and cultures to form and dissolve as needed, something I’ve written about as The Village. This translates in the above as the number of available resources for publication and the availability of inexpensive publishing forums. This is the “Gutenberg Press in your Pocket”.

So long as available resources for receiving published material exist and so long as there’s a competitive market — both in writing resources (the trusting the author factor) and publishing the written material — for the material communicated, the web, blogs, and who knows what will come after, will thrive.

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Quorum Sensing

I was watching Nova ScienceNow earlier today. They showed a segment on “Quorum Sensing” that, with a few changes in language, was an excellent explanation of “Smart Mobs”. Smart Mobs are probably more familiar than Quorum Sensing so I’ll start there.

According to Wikipedia, a smart mob is “…a group that, contrary to the usual connotations of a mob, behaves intelligently or efficiently because of its exponentially increasing network links. This network enables people to connect to information and others, allowing a form of social coordination. Parallels are made to, for instance, slime moulds.” and slime moulds fits well with the concept of quorum sensing.

Quorum sensing is a biology term which describes what happens when enough of any one kind of bacteria get together. Get enough of any one kind of bacteria together and the bacteria recognize this fact and perform a unified act.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. The unified act is something that no one of the bacteria could do on their own. In fact, the unified act is something that it takes a critical mass of bacteria to do. Examples of this unified act are protection from predators and reproductive signaling, pretty good things to unify for, don’t you think?

Biologists are actively exploring quorum sensing behavior, just as sociologists are actively exploring smart mob behavior.

This brings us to NextStage and yours truly. There is very little that doesn’t interest me and I’ve written previously that I make a living thanks to my imagination. NextStage’s Evolution TechnologyTM came from my exploring four fields — anthropology, linguistics, mathematics and neuroscience — that most people wouldn’t normally link together. I was exploring those fields because they interest me. Did then and do now.

So I was watching this show on quorum sensing and my mind started going over what I’d read and studied about smart mobs. My imagination — more correctly, my ability to recognize deep similarities in very disparate fields — kicked in. NextStage comes up with crazy solutions to marketing and communications problems because of these kicks and these crazy solutions always seem to work.

So I was wondering if the mathematical and related recognition and prediction tools designed for one discipline work in the other, and then I started wondering if there was a mashup of these tools which could be applied to web based social network tools.

Stay tuned and give me a while. One thing I love to do is think…

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Interesting Content from Kimberlee Morrison

Often the greatest treasures are those we find in our own backyards. At least in our own “blogging” backyards.

Case in point and as I noted in Thoughts on Building a Business, part 9, fellow KMM author and assistant editor Kimberlee Morrison and the arc she started in [[(it’s gone, unfortunately)]] [[(what once was lost now is found thanks to Kimberlee KimChee Morrison)]] My Life as A Freedom Writer – Part I.

My nature is to bury myself in my research, surfacing only when required. I’m going to have to rethink this model if I continue to overlook the treasures in my own backyard. I knew nothing about the Freedom Writers until I read her and related entries on the subject. I’ve written before about The Village, how good causes are all around us just waiting to be found and carrying out actions based on what we learn.

Now, dear reader, it’s your turn. Find a cause, make a goal, take part. The whole world is waiting.


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