Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Nickull Threshold

Back to work for less than 48 hours after the holidays and I am already overwhelmed by the immense load of content being served up to me. The Web 2.0, RSS, Blogs, news, AJAX, Flash, HTML, click ads, pop-ups etc are all crying for my attention like a bunch of starving pigeons flocking to a park bench where the person is about to throw around bread crumbs. This got me thinking about a new term I am going to introduce and call the "Nickull Threshold".

The principle of the "Nickull Threshold" is to monitor the level of content being produced vs consumed. Note that when we all collectively produce more content than we can possibly consume during a specific frame of time, we have crossed the Nickull Threshold. At this point we have collectively diminished the usefulness of the internet and have collectively behaved irresponsibly given that on average no one will consume most of the content being created.

The formula:

The metric for the Nickull Threshold is an index NTi. Content Assimilated (CA) is divided by Content Published (CP) using an appropriate metric. For blog publishing, perhaps the rough measure is kilobytes. If I publish 1,000 kb in this blog and assimilate (read) 500 kb, my NTi is 500 / 1,000 or a value of .5. To achieve equilibrium, I must achieve a goal of 1.0 or higher for any specific frame. If I publish 1,000 kb of text and read 2,000 kb of text, I achieve a value of 2.

Look at this blog. Logically if I create one blog entry today, to do my part to remain under the Nickull Threshold, I must read one or more other blogs of equal size. If I only create this entry and read no others until I have made my next entry, I have crossed the line.

So what are the social implications of doing this? Everyone's talking but no one is listening. If we do not listen to each other for long enough, our own rhetoric spewing from our craniums into the netherworld becomes less and less relevant to the others given we no longer recognize what is important to them.

My Wishlist:

1. Radio DJ's should be forced to listen to double the amount of radio that they produce. Unfortunately, due to the quality of radio these days, this would not likely achieve anything other than a reduction in the number of DJ's which is probably a healthy thing IMO. Hey - you are not getting paid by the syllable!

2. News anchors MUST achieve a NTi of 5 or higher with their CA derived from facts only, free of opinions, adjectives, slants, spins, or anything other than truth. Yeah right - we'll see this sometime soon...

3. Anyone blogging must take a vow to read 2 or more other blogs for every blog entry they product. Automatic syndication of content to your blog is not allowed. At no point are the number of blog entries in your own blog allowed to exceed the number of comments they have received. This is a sanity check to ensure that your time blogging is well spent. (Note to self: check later to see I have more than 8 comments.)

4. Analysts probably have the highest NTi (good) given they have to read far more than they produce. Any analyst must maintain a NTi of 5 or more at all times. You are not allowed to read the same content twice nor does reading your own publications count. Each analyst MUST read at least 2 articles from other firms before writing on a subject themselves.

Anyone want anything else added?


  1. Nice one! I like this concept and really enjoyed the wishlist.

    I would definitely like to add Print Journalists to the wishlist:
    - Journalists covering areas other than the hard sciences or technology should have an NTi of 5 or higher. Same rules as for analysts apply.
    - Journalists covering the hard sciences or technology should have an NTi of 10 or higher. Opinions or interpretation must be based on the educated analysis of at least 5 known experts in the field, and are barred from using non-scientific or non-technical material as the basis for this.

  2. Here's some food for thought -- the notion of a reading vs. writing quid pro quo for blogs makes sense, given the social context of the blogosphere. But that principle doesn't necessarily apply to all forms of content. Take a traditional library, for example. It's value is in its sheer volume of available content, even though each individual reads only a very small fraction of it -- and the quantity of content any individual might contribute to the library is negligible, and essentially irrelevant to the value of the library.

    In many ways, the sheer volume of content on the Internet works the same, whenever it acts as a reference library. But when the Internet is thought of as a medium for conversations, then your quid pro quo applies. But it's not the medium that makes the difference, it's what the content is for.

  3. I really agree with the comment on DJs, I just blogged about the overplaying of the Gorillaz

  4. Really nice one , sometimes i feel like getting drowned in the sea of informations.

  5. i dont mind reading other analyst reports but not too many; a lot of them are crap.

  6. I dunno about this NTi stuff :-) Think about all of the crap that is out there...most of it is just opinion and diary type stuff. I could easily have an NTi of 20, but still not contribute to a dialogue because it just so happens that all of the subject matter experts I am reading are embroiled in a philosophical debate (for example, REST vs. SOAP, EDI vs. XML).

    The so-called NTi may make more sense in a more structured environment, a more structured environment where papers are refereed and such, authors tend to soak up content from other authors voraciously to avoid being rejected and/or ridiculed.

  7. An what happens to the NTi if you read your own blog entries?

  8. "An what happens to the NTi if you read your own blog entries?"

    I think it's kind of like inbreeding. The quality of the gene (idea) pool goes down and eventually affects the overall.



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