Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Topplenomics

The term came to mind after reading some comments on the article linked to below. This is the "why free doesn't work" thing that people hype as well as why businesses and groups of people become unwieldy at high numbers. Simply put, they become top heavy. The few supporting the many overwhelms the few and leaves the many without service.

Article: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/138/who-needs-harvard.html?page=0%2C0

Earlier I was going to watch something on YouTube and stopped because of the slow loading. Why was it slow? Probably because of the number of people accessing it right then. Too much traffic.

This is a classic problem. Something is widely acclaimed and a large number of people want to partake. The problem is that it can kill a business or effort. If many people try to get something from you, but you only have enough for a tenth of them, 90% go away unsatisfied. The unsatisfied remember and tell others. There isn't much reason for them to return till their is proof you can satisfy them.

Yet that's only one possible result. Some pick themselves up, or can handle the flood. However, if they don't maintain a solid base, they can become top heavy. A little mistake and they fall.

So, why am I talking about this? Well, in both education and entertainment this has been a problem. People want to be the top and get all the rewards, but that makes for a bad dynamic. As lot's of people selfishly clamor to the top, there are those who get stuck supporting the greedy. Makes me think of a cartoon where a bunch of characters are climbing over each other till they are floating in the air or just a couple are trying to hold them all up. Then, they all come crashing down.

One merely needs to look at the economic issues to see the truth of topplenomics. People taking from others became successful by scamming and stealing, only to get caught and cause the whole system problems. The economy does best when people are spending and getting paid in a balanced way. It mirrors a guideline I learned in a business class. It's best for a business to be at about 80% capacity. Why, because there is something to fall back on and still plenty to keep going with. Higher means it's time to increase your capabilities, and lower means you should consider what to possibly change.

Personally, I would rather see a bunch of the groups share some of their resources, lower their costs and be able to offer better services for a lower cost to their consumers. This is a big goal of the initiative I mention a fair bit on this blog. Content is normally a one time cost, but services have recurring costs that both fuel and stifle economies. For instance several tutoring services could support a single educational content system. Several indie game development teams could work together to distribute small games through each others sites. If it helps you to send people to potential competitors, it becomes less of a competition and more of a collective effort. The key is to have several to many small groups connected. They can work together for big project and separately for small projects. For instance, selling games could become the business and making games could stay the fun side project. Not only is this idea sustainable, but it also removes business from art, service from content.

Have fun, spread the word and tell me what you think,
Igen Oukan
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