No really, too popular to succeed.

I learned about the Matthew Principle this week, via some readings…and I am kinda concerned. Defined somewhat like “more will be given to those that already have.”


“For example, popular sites in Google that appear on the first page of search results, are apt to remain so because people seldom search much further than that first page, so there is a positive feedback loop whereby those at the top tend to stay there.”

(“Collectives, Networks and Groups in Social Software for E-Learning” by Dron/Anderson)


So how does this affect eLearning trends  — I am concerned that current and future innovation might get stiffled by this effect – as can be seen by my informal survey performed on LINKEDIN recently, where I asked the question “Why is it so difficult to change the practice of Education?” -to which I received some interesting answers – but my summation was that existing condition have huge inertia which are terribly hard to change. Then I asked “How come more people don’t teach using stories?”, and a number of people answered because teachers might or might not see the value in changing from their historical (safe) methods.

Maybe the sun will continue to rise day by day, and new innovations will somehow displace yesterday’s hottest new thing, but I am simply a little skeptical – given the enormity of the Internet, and incredibly fragmented nature of technology across the globe (millions or billions of capable XML/PHP/AJAX programmers), making it ever so hard for a new innovation to garner a sizeable marketshare against not 10 but 10,000 open source, free alternatives!  Has our favorite tool’s popularity now become an impediment fo our innovation to succeed, and become the future new-new thing? (Maybe this is MS Office’s problem?)


3 Responses to No really, too popular to succeed.

  1. emapey says:

    Also, “Are search engines giving a fair representation of what’s actually available on the web? Not really. If pages were judged on the quality and the relevance for ranking, then there would be less search engine bias towards pages which are simply popular by “linkage voting”. Unfortunately, quality is subjective so finding a universally acceptable measurement or metric is not going to be easy. “. Source: Filthy Linking Rich by Mike Grehan

  2. suifaijohnmak says:

    Hi Mark,
    I read your article with interest. How come more people don’t teach using stories?
    1. Learner’s attention span is pretty short (at most 10 mins), so the story must be short and relevant to learner’s needs. Or else it must be funny/exciting/interesting.
    2. Most stories are anecdotes experienced by teachers, but for the students, why bother? So an alternative way is to ask learners to share their anecdotes, just like using these blogs to share their interests. This reduces the generation gaps. And learners don’t see much controls over them by the teacher.
    3. Some people like to learn through stories, like in some churches, when the parishioners share their anecdotes, that are of interests to others. But not every one is like that…so the teacher needs to be careful.
    4. Most teachers are not trained in such a way. because it could become preaching or lecturing…. and learners will quickly fall asleep..

    I have been teaching since 1985, sorry that I haven’t told you any stories. But you can tell me a story instead. And I will share some interesting stories of teaching with you….my blog:
    John Mak

  3. Otis Bendure says:

    This is a superb post and may be one to be followed up to see how things go

    A companion e-mailed this link the other day and I’m excitedly anticipating your next page. Proceed on the top quality work.

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