Visibility is in Feedback Loops [en]

[fr] Ce qui est populaire le reste, et devient plus populaire encore, justement parce que c'est populaire. De temps en temps un pic de visibilité se présente à  nous (comme le montre l'illustration ci-dessous). Est-ce que ceux qui sont les plus connus le sont simplement parce qu'ils proposent un menu qui convient à  la majorité, et qu'ils savent tirer avantage de ces pics pour rester la tête hors de l'eau? Est-ce vrai? Est-ce bien? Est-ce mal? Qu'en dites-vous?

Last month, I had a jump in my Cheese Sandwich stats:

Traffic peak graph.

This was because the post Get an iBook! had for some reason or another made it to the “Fastest growing weblogs” list which appears in every dashboard. And it stayed stuck there. I think there was a bug or something and it got stuck there, but it might also have been a little feedback loop: what is popular becomes more popular because it is popular — I’ve discussed this briefly regarding a photograph of mine which suddenly became ‘interesting’ in Flickr.

So, let’s first note one thing: this little peak of traffic finally had no long-term effects for me. My traffic is back down to what it was before. Sometimes a feedback loop can send you into another playground, but most times it doesn’t. So either you try to create another popularity burst, or you just keep plodding along your way.

My second thought is that popularity, visibility, fame, or whatever-you’ll-call-it mainly has to do with feedback loops. If something is very visible, you’re more likely to know about it. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? I think I’m coming to accept it’s a rule of the game. But to stay in the limelight once the feedback loop has put you there, you need certain qualities. Which ones? Look at the latest interesting photos on Flickr. What do they have in common?

I think you can have a great mind, great style, great many things, and still stay in the shadow if the right feedback loop doesn’t come along. Is being successful just a case of managing feedback loops and getting them to work for you? Is this bad?

I know nothing about feedback loops, actually, so what I’m saying here might very well be a lot of BS. I’ll let you decide. I’m feeling very conversational after LIFT.