The Importance of Critical Mass

During yesterday’s domain of one’s own class, I started thinking about network technologies. Network technologies increase in utility as more people and more people use them; that is, the benefits of using network technologies increase as they gain critical mass. A perfect example of a network technology is the telephone. If I’m the only person using the telephone, I can’t talk to anyone else using my phone, so my utility from using the telephone is fairly low. As more and more people use the telephone, I can use my phone to talk to others, thereby increasing my own utility from using the telephone.

So, how is this relevant to social media instructional technologies (e.g., twitter)? I think social media technologies can be perceived as network technologies. If I’m the only person blogging or using Twitter, the benefits of using these technologies aren’t that great. On the other hand, as more and more of my colleagues and students use these technologies, the benefits of using these technologies increase for me as well as for my students and colleagues. As more of my colleagues and students blog and tweet, I can learn from their blogs and tweets and the more others who read my blog can learn as well. Essentially, the benefits of using these technologies will increase as they are more widely adopted. So, please continue to blog and tweet.

One thought on “The Importance of Critical Mass

  1. I think this is an interesting insight, Dave. And one of my take-aways from yesterday’s discussion is that there is also too much of a good thing … with a network that’s too big, the signal can get lost in the noise. Seems like a balancing act.

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