Chart from David White, JISC funded ‘SPIRE’ project 2007 Survey,
Via Stephen Downes comes a pointer to a David White's JISC funded ‘SPIRE’ project 2007 Survey, a British-based, of 1400 respondents, on the use of Web 2.0 technologies. The respondents are self-selected, so expect the numbers to skew high. However, as Stephen notes, the data is very useful.
Indeed, I've been looking for some research that confirms that the lurker to participant ratio in online communities (see Nielsen) holds true for some web2.0 online communities, like tagging communities, digg communities, and others. Ha, I found something on page 8 and illustrated by the above chart.
Respondents were asked if they contributed to each group of tool or simply viewed the material offered. This was an attempt to find out the ratio of contribution to ‘lurking’. The fact that this question was only asked after groups of services and not after individual services produced what seem to be unreliable results. Also, the concept of contribution is subjective. Recent research in this area distinguishes between ‘comments’ and ‘content creation’.
“It's an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will "interact" with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other
89 will just view it. It's a meme that emerges strongly in statistics from YouTube, which in just 18 months has gone from zero to 60% of all online video viewing.”
Guardian Online July 20, 2006.
The survey results show a much higher level of contribution than this, with 20% of those who use mySpace and youTube contributing in some form. This could be indicative of a general increase in this area but is probably an effect of this aspect of the survey being too simplistic.
This area requires more research especially into what motivates individuals to comment or create. The follow up email interviews to the survey were designed to gain an insight into this issue but are not very comprehensive.
I also think that in tagging communities we see some nuances of behavior based on frequency or at least based on an unsciencetific analysis of NPTech Tagging data.