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## My Quotes in Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14

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### Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14

Instapaperthe long tail of weblogs with few readers will become conversational. In a world where most bloggers get below average traffic, audience size can?t be the only metric for success.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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as a blogger?s audience grows large, more people read her work than she can possibly read, she can?t link to everyone who wants her attention, and she can?t answer all her incoming mail or follow up to the comments on her site. The result of these pressures is that she becomes a broadcast outlet, distributing material without participating in conversations about it.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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Once a power law distribution exists, it can take on a certain amount of homeostasis, the tendency of a system to retain its form even against external pressures.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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there is no real A-list, because there is no discontinuity.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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the stars exist not because of some cliquish preference for one another, but because of the preference of hundreds of others pointing to them. Their popularity is a result of the kind of distributed approval it would be hard to fake.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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asking whether there is inequality in the weblog world (or indeed almost any social system) is the wrong question, since the answer will always be yes. The question to ask is ?Is the inequality fair??Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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What matters is that any tendency towards agreement in diverse and free systems, however small and for whatever reason, can create power law distributions.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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Note that this model is absolutely mute as to why one blog might be preferred over another. Perhaps some writing is simply better than average (a preference for quality), perhaps people want the recommendations of others (a preference for marketing), perhaps there is value in reading the same blogs as your friends (a preference for ?solidarity goods?, things best enjoyed by a group).Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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Think of this positive feedback as a preference premium. The system assumes that later users come into an environment shaped by earlier users; the thousand-and-first user will not be selecting blogs at random, but will rather be affected, even if unconsciously, by the preference premiums built up in the system previously.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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people?s choices do affect one another. If we assume that any blog chosen by one user is more likely, by even a fractional amount, to be chosen by another user, the system changes dramatically.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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Now, thanks to a series of breakthroughs in network theory by researchers like Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Duncan Watts, and Bernardo Huberman among others, breakthroughs being described in books like Linked, Six Degrees, and The Laws of the Web, we know that power law distributions tend to arise in social systems where many people express their preferences among many options.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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The basic shape is simple - in any system sorted by rank, the value for the Nth position will be 1/N.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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The data is drawn from N.Z Bear?s 2002 work on the blogosphere ecosystem. The current version of this project can now be found at http://www.myelin.co.nz/ecosystem/.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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The data is drawn from N.Z Bear?s 2002 work on the blogosphere ecosystem. The current version of this project can nowInstapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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The very act of choosing, spread widely enough and freely enough, creates a power law distribution.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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A ?1/N? strategy is almost always best with convex strategies (the dispersion property): following point (1) and reducing the costs per attempt, compensate by multiplying the number of trials and allocating 1/N of the potential investment across N investments, and make N as large as possible. This allows us to minimize the probability of missing rather than maximize profits should one have a win, as the latter teleological strategy lowers the probability of a win.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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The convexity bias, unlike serendipity et al., can be defined, formalized, identified, even on the occasion measured scientifically, and can lead to a formal policy of decision making under uncertainty, and classify strategies based on their ex ante predicted efficiency and projected success, as we will do next with the following 7 rules.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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Let us call the ?convexity bias? the difference between the results of trial and error in which gains and harm are equal (linear), and one in which gains and harm are asymmetric ( to repeat, a convex payoff function). The central and useful properties are that a) The more convex the payoff function, expressed in difference between potential benefits and harm, the larger the bias. b) The more volatile the environment, the larger the bias. This last property is missed as humans have a propensity to hate uncertainty.Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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(To use a metaphor from information theory, if you are going to a vacation resort offering you more options, you can predict your activities by asking a smaller number of questions ahead of time.)Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 14 -

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