[Air-l] feedback, overload, and equilibrium in online nets

Ben Davidson bendavidson at totalise.co.uk
Fri May 24 10:02:09 PDT 2002


Is there some rule of thumb that emerged from your work regarding basement
and ceiling levels?

Did your studies explore different 'tiers' of membership, and what different
proportions of members in different tiers might do to the interaction?  I'm
thinking eg of
- core contributors, who might always be in the thick of discussions,
contributing also lots of off-topic banter that brings cohesion and glue to
the group
- those who are well know but tend to come in only with specific, on-topic
- those on the peripheries, very occasional contributors, not known
- lurkers

My impression is that groups that work well have reached some sort of
watershed in terms of the first tier, and probably that the other tiers are
important too, in terms of a watershed of members, but decreasingly so as
the tier is further from the centre of things.

I'm not sure what the watershed would be - some function of (distribution of
members in these tiers) and (total number of contributors) and (frequency of
postings), presumably.

I'm more interested in the basement level at the moment than the ceiling
level, so it might be that we are looking at different ends of the spectrum,
but I'm interested to hear more from you anyway.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ronald E. Rice" <rrice at scils.rutgers.edu>
To: <air-l at aoir.org>
Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 5:18 PM
Subject: [Air-l] feedback, overload, and equilibrium in online nets

> I hesitate to resurrect such an old publication, but my dissertation
> developed and tested a mode of equilibrium among the network relations of
> users and groups of the EIES computer conferencing system: Rice, R.E.
> (1982). Communication networking in computer-conferencing systems:  A
> longitudinal study of group roles and system structure.  In M. Burgoon
> (Ed.), Communication yearbook, vol. 6. (pp. 925-944). Beverly Hills, CA:
> Sage.  It made a similar argument, that there is both a basement level of
> interaction required to maintain online groups, and a ceiling of
> beyond which people can't process more messages.  Groups must evolve
> the middle range, and reciprocity within and across groups is the feedback
> mechanism.  I know that Lin Freeman also applied Q-analysis to the maximum
> carrying capacity of online conferences, but don't know if he ever
> it.
> ============================================================
> Ronald E. Rice
> Professor, Chair of Department of Communication
> School of Communication, Information & Library Studies
> Rutgers University
> 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1071
> w: 732-932-7500, ext. 8122; f: 732-932-6916
> e: rrice at scils.rutgers.edu; http://scils.rutgers.edu/~rrice
> ============================================================
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