Micro-elites and user generated content

Andy Oram discusses how only a miniscule subset within the hordes of users participating in Web 2.0 type collaboration actually add value. Interesting viewpoint, helps see any Web 2.0  user numbers in better perspective.

But I have a couple of points to add:

  • Notion of elites is not always necessary to add value to content. We need to think about what types of content we are looking at. Say Flickr, you don’t need much beyond ability to click and upload a photo. In contrast an entry on Bosons requires a good knowledge of particle physics.
  • Perceived elitism can mangle a open collaborative framework. Better to allow inclusion by default. Even having filters, lets say a certain educational qualification to contribute on Wikipedia, to keep out irrelevant or low value contributions will give rise to a distinguished class. I like the Wiki model of self-correcting collaborative and open systems, than the selective collaboration of closed systems. Of course the self-correction happens by chosen elites!
  • I see better social value in the process of collaborating, regardless of the utility of the outcome. Content needs to gathered first. It should be the problem of those who want to harvest this information to look at the chaos through the lenses of reason and order.


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