The "Participation Premium"

Data: Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, said in an article yesterday that he has 10177 people subscribed to him on FriendFeed, about half of the number of followers he has on Twitter.

Data: Allen Stern, founder of Centernetworks, said in an article today that Mike and I are one of the nine people that FriendFeed recommends (we’re right next to each other).

Data: Mike Arrington, according to FriendFeed, is my favorite user on that service. I like more of his posts than any other person, is what that means. So, everyone who is following me sees Mike Arrington’s posts and has an option to subscribe to them.

Data: 15,053 are following me on FriendFeed.

Data: Arrington’s blog is about 10x more popular than mine is.

Data: Arrington was named to Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people list.

So, why do I have 5,000 more followers on FriendFeed than Mike Arrington does? Especially since he has more advantages than I do (10x more people listen to him on his blog everyday than listen to me — hence he should be able to get thousands to join a new service simply by saying “it’s cool”).

I call this difference the “Participation Premium.”

Let’s look at how Mike and I participate on FriendFeed:

1. Comments. Mike has only left 17 comments, while I’ve left 2,356 comments over the same time period.
2. Likes. These are votes on different items, they basically are telling other people that you think this item is important to read for some reason. Mike has only done 6 likes, while I’ve left 3,625 likes.

What this is telling you is that you can easily get noticed in any community simply by participating. Yes, other factors do matter, but just by participating you’ll build an audience that “the popular kids” can’t get to.

In fact, this is exactly why Mike is at the top of TechMeme today. He participates in the blog world more than anyone. Holds parties. Takes his followers to the movies. Links to them. Argues with them, both on blog and on panels. He’s often seen here on my comments participating.

If you want to be Mike you’ve got to participate. There’s no other way.

Now, the question is, why am I participating in FriendFeed more than I’m participating in the blogosphere lately?

Easy: I think the community over there is geekier and more technology savvy (not to mention friendlier) than any other I watch (and I watch a bunch). It’s amazing how fast FriendFeed is growing, too. Remember, I’ve only been on FriendFeed four months. After being on Twitter four months I only had a few hundred followers. FriendFeed is a very viral community and is changing daily as new people discover it.

Is Microsoft trying to capture photography market?

This week Thomas Hawk (my favorite “Flickr-famous” photographer) and me will join a bunch of others on Microsoft’s campus up in Redmond, Washington, to attend a pro photography summit that Microsoft is hosting.

Why is Microsoft hosting a bunch of professional photographers?

Is it to kick off Microsoft’s Pro Photo Tools, Photosynth ( which got me, in 2006, to say it was the demo of the year), or DeepZoom? Maybe. After all, these things are really cool and photographers should flock to them in droves.

Is it because the digital photography market has finally gotten big enough to get Microsoft interested? Maybe.

But I think Microsoft has something else up its sleeve.

It knows that if Silverlight is going to have a chance against Flash it will have to get designers to give up Photoshop, or at least use other tools alongside.

Why?

Because designers now are in control of the toolset that many companies will chose. What’s the most important tool to these designers? Photoshop.

So, along comes a Microsoft salesperson trying to get Silverlight and the Microsoft toolset in the door. Things go well with the developers, because .NET code is a lot nicer than Flash stuff. The management likes the pitch too, because they probably will get a break on something else they are already buying (Office/Sharepoint/Exchange are all very popular inside most corporations). But then the team gets to the designers and they say “give up Photoshop? Over our dead bodies.” And the deal ends and the team chooses Adobe’s Flash. Adobe’s salespeople then get a call and they come over and show off Acrobat.com, which is a hit against Microsoft Office and you can see how this goes.

So, I’ll be watching this week to see what’s really behind Microsoft’s moves into photography. Is it to do something really remarkable (which Photosynth and Deep Zoom are)? Or is it to switch designers from Adobe stuff?

What do you think?