For several years, there has been a rule-of-thumb, called “90-9-1″, that 90% of online participation in groups/communities consists of “lurkers” or more politely, “passive participants”, and only 1% are active creators. Jacob Nielsen’s 2006 post on Participation Inequality provides a good overview of this phenomenon.
A recent BBC survey of 7,500 people shows significantly different results. Here we see that passive lurkers make up only 23% of participants; active (intense) participants have increased to 17%; and there is now an “Easy” group in the middle who, “ … respond largely to the activity of others. This includes replying, ‘liking’ and rating, all activities where there’s little effort, exposure or risk.”
"Subsequently, the presence of electronic media for creating, distributing and communicating information, knowledge and meaning has grown more widely and more dramatically than perhaps even he could have foreseen.
Within this context, I want to try to stitch together a few concepts, perspectives and examples with which I am more or less familiar and perhaps update the core implication of McLuhan’s famous phrase."