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!

Presenting at American Creativity Association International Conference in March 2006

While preparing for an upcoming presentation in March at the American Creativity Association International Conference 2006 I was researching white papers on association and organization trends.  First some information on the speaking engagement for ACA – I am an attendee as well so I am really looking forward to the conference!

American Creativity Association International Conference 2006
Ed Schipul CEO
Schipul – The Web Marketing Company

Wed 22-Mar-06 8:00 AM to Sat 25-Mar-06 5:00 PM

Now for an interesting white paper from Mr. Barkan who I have not met nor read previously, but I found the following short very interesting from a visual communication perspective.  And of course it may be a bit “the sky is falling” but it IS true that many organizations experience a real performance gap as described below:

Strategic Review on Association Development: International Trends, Issues and Options
Mr. Terrance A. Barkan, AGS (Association Global Services) www.agshq.com

Association_rate_of_change_threat <snip pg.6>Associations with their consensus decision-making processes, tend to be following rather than leading organizations in the implementation of new business practices, programs and services.  In contrast, it is within associations that professional development issues, trends, standards and benchmarks are debated, forged and communicated.

When the rate of change of the external environment exceeds the ability of an association to anticipate or react to that change, a gap develops between what the environment demands and what the association can deliver.  It is this disconnect between the rate of change in the environment and the capacity rate of change of the association to adapt that poses a serious threat to the continued relevance of the organization.

Blatant plug disclaimer. It is the closing of this association performance gap that Tendenci represents.  Even if you don’t know what CMS, RSS or Podcasting are; you get them anyway.  That is the power of a cutting edge MMS application sold in the ASP sales model where everybody wins and your organization remains relevant.  The most important aspect is the enabling of distributed authoring for the association members.