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The Cumulative Advantage

Skip over the headine about Justin Timberlake. This is a brilliant, meaty article about success (or non-success) in writing and other “cultural industries,” and how it’s a) unpredictable, no matter how much you know about your business, and b) highly dependent on social influence.

“The reason is that when people tend to like what other people like, differences in popularity are subject to what is called ‘cumulative advantage,’ or the ‘rich get richer’ effect. This means that if one object happens to be slightly more popular than another at just the right point, it will tend to become more popular still. As a result, even tiny, random fluctuations can blow up, generating potentially enormous long-run differences among even indistinguishable competitors — a phenomenon that is similar in some ways to the famous ‘butterfly effect’ from chaos theory.”

Hat tip to Shrinking Violet Promotions! And all the more reason to just write what you love best.

1 Comment

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  • otherlisa

    Must read carefully. Must Tweet! Thanks!