Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Power Law of Viral Change (TM) is also the Power Law of 'Facebook distance' and 'email distance'. Wonderful data!

One of the key components of the Viral Change™ maths is the Power Law that governs most of the connectedness phenomena seeing in organisations, external social networks, electronic networks, the long tail economy, the web etc. As stated in the Viral Change™ book that means that a small group of individuals within the organisation are going to be relatively well connected whilst the majority (long tail) are not. For social influence, ditto.

Head and tail are powerful economic models as well. Amazon is a head and tail economy. It sells thousands of copies of Harry Potter as well as 4 copies of Pottery in Cumbria (bought by the girlfriend of the author, the author himself and two relatives). It makes money in both. My local village bookshop is definitely a head economy in the shelves: only Harries and the like can be afforded space (although his computer can access the long tail in the distributor). Obama campaign as mainly tail economy: millions of $10 donations vs the head economy of few $100 million. He was also viral:’ a family at a time, a person at a time’. Power laws explain blog life: a few well connected and reads, most poorly connected and read by few. Our change champions model entails the use of the ‘few well connected’ to spread new behaviours through their (powerful) social networks, creating critical masses of ‘new routines’.

Whilst anybody with a background in maths/physics/computer sciences etc would see the Power Law/logarithmic distribution as obvious as breakfast cereals, many people are hooked into the Bell curve/normal distribution as the one should be expected to find ‘everywhere’ (well publicised by the distribution of IQ (intelligence) where by design ‘100’ is the norm.

Due to the importance of understanding the Power Law of connectivity and influence, I am always collecting ‘powerful’ examples of power law distributions that may come in front of our noses as a way to illustrate: you see, influence/connectivity works the same way. This is why I was delighted to find in my scrolling ‘Google Fast Flip’ two wonderful examples

Summary: Experimenters studied data from 100,000 participants that were both Facebook users and email users. They found that most Facebook users' friends are within several miles of their location. They also found that emailing followed the same pattern: 41% of the emails that participants sent were within their own city.

('Most people use the web to talk to people nearby' Fast Company, 26 October 2009) )


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