Why the 10% rules the 90% like you!

Why. Why do I enjoy writing… Probably it’s the innate desire to create and communicate. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how short our attention spans are, and how often we come away from addictive consuming habits like facebook and twitter (or even rss) feeling so empty.

Knowing which category you lean towards gives you some dark satisfaction. For me it was being a Producer more than a Consumer, and I think my wife also agrees with that now and she is a Producer with her food blog.

The truth is producers gain something, it’s not the same gain as consumers. It’s different. A consumer may gain satisfaction from the use or consumption of something. He may pay for it in terms of money, time or attention. A producer on the other hand, has to use time, money and attention to produce and create. Generally, the producer comes out richer and the consumer comes out enriched.

Once I identified I was a Producer, I started asking another question whether ‘creation’ was enough. What about being a Curator/Distributor i.e. curation or distribution (or as referred below: Editor/editing). What was more valuable, content creation or content curation?

Creation requires more effort and time. It is limited in that an individual can only produce so much. Curation also has its place, in that there’s only so much content created (mostly crap, thanks to publishing becoming mainstream with blogging) that it requires someone to curate it, because we don’t have the time to read everything, we prioritize. So we are willing to exchange money/attention for time saved from curated content.

Ever heard of The 90–9–1 Principle? The idea is simple: In social groups, some people actively participate more than others. Researcher Jakob Nielsen calls this “Participation Inequality“. Social participation tends to follow a 90–9–1 rule where:

  1. 90% of users are the “audience”, or lurkers. The people tend to read or observe, but don’t actively contribute.
  2. 9% of users are “editors”, sometimes modifying content or adding to an existing thread, but rarely create content from scratch.
  3. 1% of users are “creators”, driving large amounts of the social group’s activity. More often than not, these people are driving a vast percentage of the site’s new content, threads, and activity.

Then I came across this interesting retweet from Dave McClure of 500 Startups, referencing CurateHub (possibly a 500 Startup company?); I jumped on the opportunity to ask him this question, and we hit a short interesting conversation.

@curatehub @500 @davemcclure What is more valuable, created content or curated content?
— Jose Paul Martin (@jpmartin) August 31, 2012
@curatehub @500 @davemcclure given this -> go.jpm.cc/Ufubzn — imho its the 1% that services 90% as more valuable 90–9–1.com
— Jose Paul Martin (@jpmartin) August 31, 2012
@davemcclure @curatehub true. So the equation simply should be 10% serves 90%.
— Jose Paul Martin (@jpmartin) August 31, 2012

But with regards to content creation vs. curation, I still haven’t come to the conclusion as to which is more valuable, but let’s just say there’s a place for both and that the 10% who serve the 90% are more valuable. But then again would you have consumers without producers!?!?

Originally published at josepaulmartin.com.