Distributed Authoring – Vocal Authors and the Silent Majority in Associations

ExampletendenciauthorspiechartsSome eye candy for those interested in Associations and Organizational dynamics. 

First, I firmly believe that successful online organizations can be identified by looking at three primary characteristics:

  1. Distributed Authoring – humans adding content and the wisdom of crowds
  2. Strong Subgroups – meaning active committees under 150 people typically
  3. Transparency – a level playing field must be in place for all with controls

These were first articulated in "Engaging Your Membership: What Are You Doing and What Should You Be Doing?" and the Distributed Authoring bullet was expanded in "The Concept of Distributed Authoring for Membership Associations ““ Getting Your Association to “Virtualization“.  And of course everything we program in Tendenci is designed to facilitate these three organizational goals.  But at the end of the day it is up to the association to determine the action and policies it will demonstrate.

Some data.  Here is one graphical snapshot from a randomly selected Tendenci client in aggregate.  I changed the numbers a bit, but in a statistically consistent way so the trends are valid.

ExampletendencisitedocumentsaddedalluserThis first graph is almost completely useless.  I am just sharing my initial frustration.  With over 10k users on the site, less than 50 are adding content for others to read. 

I filtered out stuff like editing a profile or registering for an event as those are more data entry in my mind.  Authoring means contributing an article for the newsletter or posting an event on the calendar (again this is subjective and my opinion).

ExampletendencisiteactiveauthorspowerdisOf the members of the sample association adding value to the group as a whole through authoring content, they follow something close to a power curve. 

I did try fitting a logarithmic and an exponential distribution, but the power curve was the closest match despite the divergence as it approaches zero.

This last graph is a pie chart limited to people who actually added content.  Again the data has beenExampletendenciauthorspiecharts changed a bit, but not much, so the trends are consistent with the actual distribution.  Note again that there are two or three super users adding most of the content that is read and absorbed by the entire membership

Specifically the top 5 users are adding almost 85% of the content. 

One possible explanation is that someone is functioning in an administrative role (not the security level but the act of functioning administratively) with others emailing articles and society events to post on the site.  This is likely in my opinion based on observing interactions and I made no effort to correct the data for author versus typist.

Exampletendencitrends_1A possible future post or article should probably look at which articles and events are being read the most.  Something along the lines of what AttentionTrust is interested in as long as it can be done anonymously for the users (nobody likes big brother, especially me!).  Thanks!

Quotable Futurist – Perhaps Baby Boomers Don’t Need Technology in the Future

PeterbishopI recently attended a presentation at IABC Houston by Dr. Peter Bishop, Houston’s resident futurist.  Some great quotes below, and then perhaps some constructive feedback and questions.

Riding the Future’s Waves of Creative Destruction
Dr. Peter C. Bishop Futurist, and Associate Professor in the College of Technology and Coordinator of the graduate program in Futures Studies
University of Houston

The Dr. Bishop is very quotable dropping a few lines on the future such as:

“What goes away (in the future) is the traditional job. “¦ if you are not using judgment and value adds then I can tell a machine to do that job.“

“The very thing you think you have the least control over, what happens 15 years out, is what you have the most control over.“

“When an era ends we will be in a world of confusion and risk. “¦ When the first person realizes they are in a new era they have a significant advantage.“

“Communication (in the future) is instantaneous and simultaneous.  If you are not instantaneous then you’re not there yet.  If your information is not simultaneously available to everyone then you’re not there yet.“

More quotes on the future here.

I had a presentation at 2:00 so had to leave the IABC luncheon quickly.  So we were not able to spend much time with Bishop after the presentation, but looking for a moment of bonding I asked briefly if he used bloglines.  "No time" was the response.  I protested that lack of time is the reason to USE tools that improve your consumption and filtering of information.  "For a futurist, I don’t use the computer much." was the follow up response. Baroo?

Note I am not protesting someone using alternate tools, Mac vs PC, Linux vs Unix, Photoshop vs Gimp, rather I am questioning an apparent unwillingness to look at tools of the future now.

"The future is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed." – William Gibson

So basically our baby-boomer futurist doesn’t keep up on communication technology.  I truly believe you can have great Doctors who aren’t tech savvy in the geek way.  But a freakin’ futurist?  This is just lack of discipline.  Perhaps a lack of respect for the craft of "futurism"?  Perhaps most damning is that by his own choice his communication inbound and outbound is not instantaneous and simultaneous. 

Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll get a Bishop trackback telling me I am nuts and got it all wrong.  I hope so for the sake of the future!