Laurens Rademakers


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Does your TED-attention follow a Gaussian curve?

A gaussian curve follows a bell-shape: from low beginnings, the curve peaks, and then declines.

I noticed that a wave of people who came to TED-conversations at the same time as myself, are no longer very active here. My own participation in the conversation board has diminished. As has the number of lectures I watch.

From a gradual increase in attention for TED, I (and apparently they) peaked, and then went down.

Are you in the same case? And what could be some causes of this? Or is your story not that straightforward?

Perhaps the fluid nature of the gigantic amount of information on the internet encourages a rapid cycling of websites. You stay a while, then abandon, and move on to something "new".

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    Jun 23 2012: There's another conversation in TED where 'fear of change' is discussed and some commented that many preferred change because people always want new things and get bored easily. We used to call it 'fickle' - where someone doesn't stay with any one thing for very long. Maybe people 'think' they want something and then when they get it, they realize that's not what they wanted. Or maybe people have certain expectations of what they'll get, and when the get it, it doesn't meet their expectations. We're like water bugs, dancing on the surface, hopping around here and there while the tide rumbles underneath.
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      Jun 23 2012: Where does patience play into this water bugs life? What about peoples' patience?
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    Jun 22 2012: The TED format does not apeal to everyone. I am retired and have many interests. My theory is that if I have not learned something new today I wasted a day. I noticed that some like to dominate the conversation, some are passive, and some are just along for the ride. I can spend the time to watch and learn. I can sit at the computer for an hour or four hours depending on how I feel. My glass is always half full because I want it to be. We make choices and I cannot state what others see or do not see in TED. I enjoy all talks and chating with others to gain perspectives from around the world is priceless.

    I am not a curve I am a arrow pointing straight up.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Jun 22 2012: But to keep going straight up you need to exit earth's atmosphere and get into the vacuum of space. Hope your initial impulse and speed are high enough!

      Else, you'll just be pulled down by gravity - like the rest of us. :-)
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        Jun 22 2012: We are still measuring TED attention not the launch of my physical bulk into space.

        My TED speed is petal to the metal.

        I enjoy you posts. Thanks for the added humor. All the best. Bob
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    Jun 22 2012: A Gaussian bell curve cannot be interpreted as a 2-axis chart showing involvement (vertical displacement) versus time(horizontal displacement). A bell curve illustrates the variation of many samples about an established median. Anyway, like the waxing and waning of the Moon so go human habits. Rise and fall? Yes. Gaussian (bell) curve? No.
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    Jun 22 2012: If you plotted the overall paths of individual participation in TED, it would probably look gausian.

    But the individual participation curves would be complex. THere are a number of factors at play:

    interest in the talks: This would rise rapidly to a saturation point - there is only one new talk per day - so the curve would clip at that limit.

    Then if a topic grabbed the person's passion, they would create a user account and join the conversations. THis curve would behave differently - more like a sinusoid with high participation leading to a drop in participation landing on a slowly declining minimum.


    In my opinion, TED is ultimately defined by the talk selection panel according to its own criteria. this might be a broad criteria, but the viewer will eventuially saturate with information, gain the maximum benefit from it, and only view to update the key concepts of their improved world view.

    THen the conversations - the passion would ebb and flow, but there is another factor:

    No one is paid to contribute to TED, our real world lives apply constraints on how much time we spend here.
    Once the major part of teh value of TED is digested, the balance between real world and TED world starts to tip back to real world.
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      Jun 22 2012: Hey Mitch!

      How are you?! =)

      Back on topic.....sorta...

      Well why don't we supersaturate the participation and interest by raising the temperature of a solution and placing tedsters into this solution until solution and tedsters are leveled, then let the supersaturated tedsters solution cool down their excitement at room temperature...haha....but don't disturb them because the audience will burst out from ted.coms' mainframes. =P
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        Jun 22 2012: Oops, I forgot to mention the backwash phase - that's when you start watching all the talks back to 2005.
        And then the phase where you start seeking professional help.
        But it's often too late, and you find yourself on the TED data centre floor being inundated in halon .. and supersaturated tedsters.
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    Jun 21 2012: I am progressively coming back. Sin wave?
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    Jun 21 2012: I think I do. I'm just starting to become less active on TED.
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    Jun 21 2012: More like a continuing sine curve whose amplitude may vary. Periodically something prompts me to return to the site after a break.
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    Jun 21 2012: Do you think the fact that newcomers often pose questions that have been addressed often before is part of why people decline in their participation? Perhaps it feels "been there, done that?"
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      Jun 21 2012: True, and logically, the number of highly interesting or controversial topics up for discussion steadily declines as more of them are posted.

      Many questions and debates are posted more than once, get reformulated or repositioned and this may make them interesting again - but at times, indeed, we've "seen them, had them".
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        Jun 21 2012: Another observation may suggest a strategy for stimulating a higher proportion of new ideas relative to repetition. Many of the questions that are posted are either not related to, or only tangentially related to, the newest TED talks. That's fine, except for those who have already addressed the same question two or five times, and are tired of it.
        Those who are very interested in stimulating new ideas and creating new energy in Conversations might consider opening threads regularly related to newer talks.