This article in MIT Technology review made me think. The author sets out comparing Moore’s law and Zuckerberg’s law and notes that there are fundamental differences between them. Z’s law says that online sharing will double yearly over the foreseeable future. The article author notes that this is not interesting in itself without an additional concept of “caring”.
We could simplify this and think of the caring/sharing ratios for different network: how much material we share and how much we care about or actually consume. (Presumably we could even define social networks as networks that depend on their care/share ratio for survival long term). As the c/s-ratio approaches zero there is a point at which people just quit.
That allows us to ask a couple of interesting questions about social networks:
1) Is the c/s-ratio dependent on the number of connections or other network properties? I.e. is there a social density relationship? This seems almost certain, but I am not sure what the relationship looks like.
2) Is the c/s-ratio dependent on social segmenting (lists, circles et cetera)? Does social segmenting help us care more?
3) What is the unit of measurement? Time spent caring/sharing? Or mbs shared/cared about? One way to understand Zuckerberg’s law would be to say that it applies to the amount of data shared, as in the size of the shared data set. That will grow as we share more high-resolution images, and that will happen as laws like Moore’s increase capacity of technology. But if I share a 1 mb picture one year and a 2 mb picture next year — is it really accurate to say that my sharing doubled? It seems clear that Zuckerberg’s law was conceived based on mb, not hours. Therein lies a lot of the challenge to it.
4) Is the c/s-ratio applicable to other online phenomena like gaming? I share and care at the same time when I play WoW, right? It seems that there is something asynchronous going on in the c/s-analysis.
5) It seems obvious that the c/s ratio will develop in a certain way over time, and that it will compete with other things we care for. Attention economics needs to be developed more in detail. Is there any way that we can increase our attention? I think visualization – as the article author hints – maybe really important here. Applications like Wisdom allow us to “meta-care” about things aggregated into visualizations.
6) What does the c/s-ratio look like if we order the networks we participate in today? 4sq, FB, Twitter, G+…I think my order is G+, FB, Twitter and then everything else (but of course I am biased). I guess my email has a c/s-ratio too. Hm.
There is a lot more (some notes also here), but those are some initial thoughts for now. On a not so related note there is snow in Sweden, and everything is very christmasy. It is kind of nice to have snow in December. I did not think I would feel this way.