The top 1% contributors to Wikipedia, ranked by size of collaborative effort, are responsible for more than 2/3rds of the content produced on the site. Many other social media projects are also dominated by a relatively small number of voices. Yet, the deeper meaning, the mechanisms, and the effects of the observed unevenness are still under debate. Matei proposes a “structural differentiation” perspective to understand online collaborative production of content. Uneven contributions are seen as the result of an evolutionary process, which generate new types of social structures. Matei uses entropy and “elite stickiness” analysis of Wikipedia and Stack Overflow (a popular Question and Answer site) to detect discrete phases in the evolution of the two projects. A “steady state,” signaling that structural differentiation has stabilized, is found in both spaces. This final state, is however, dynamic. Matei calls it “adhocracy,” to recognize that leadership is achieved, not ascribed, and roles are temporary and mission-driven. More important, structuration and stickiness of elites interact and have a tangible impact on content quality. The workshop will summarize some of the findings of the structural differentiation in social media: Adhocracy, entropy, and the 1% effect volume, published by Springer Nature
Sorin Adam Matei, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, College of Liberal Arts and Professor of Communication, Brian Lamb School of Communication, studies online social structures and the interaction between technology and online groups. He is the founder of the NSF funded project Kredible.net and has initiated and founded several forward-looking interdisciplinary teams at Purdue University that connect humanities, social sciences, and computer science. He is also the leader of the Global Perspectives on Internet Communication program in Paris, France organized with experts from the French National Assembly, Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (FCC-equivalent), and The French Laboratory of Excellence for the Study of Media and Creative Industries. His most recent publications include the volumes Data factories,Transparency in Social Media, Ethical Reasoning in Big Data and Structural differentiation in social media: Adhocracy, entropy, and the 1% effect.