So it's 2 in the morning but I can' t sleep without writing. No ! Please. Don't ask me why. The title says it all actually : I'm wondering how to reconcile the butterfly effect with the 80/20 Pareto law. The 80/20 rule is about power laws. One might think it always means that 20% of a sample is responsible for 80% of the output or anything in that sense and therefore one might end up thinking this is very similar to the butterfly effect since a little (20% = flap of the wings of a butterfly) is causing a lot (80% = tornado). This would be even more confusing if I told you about the 99/1 principle which occurs quite often in nature, especially when it comes to studies about your and my productivity (we do 99% of the work in 1% of the time we spent trying to do it)
Enter the blip:
The thing is however that the 80/20 priniciple also stands for systems that are resistant to change. So for example, the internet where 80% of the links refer to roughly 20% of the existing websites. The thing is that these websites have nothing to do with our butterflies. They are the heavy mamoths of the web (the new york times and Google and Facebook ...) that are very unlikely to be the unespected small butterfly that'll change it all.
So I'm wondering at 2:15am now (thank god my mom does'nt read this blog) how is it that a butterfly is capable of shifting the status quo of this very resilient system. We know new-comers have the potential to stir up things, especially on the web and we've seen hackers making the news and Anonymous bringing down giants but the web is still here as it was with its traditional 20% of mamoth websites.
So here's my question: What can a butterfly do in a power law environment ? Is it supposed to change things slowly and nicely until they reach a tipping point ?
Examples of historical leaders such as Napoleon and Lenin are coming to my mind and I guess that yes, they did build momentum by bringing up, by educing as Dee Hock would put it, the desires and asprations of their yet-to-become followers.
Evolutionary examples also come to mind. How does a given version of a species come about ? It has to survive in its environment, better than others. That's it ! It's not only the species doing the work, it's the changing environment alos that's making hard on the old versions of the species, on the guys whi didn't have Lenine's and Napoelon's thoughts (the one's the people needed to hear) and also on the Web's mamoths.
That's how My Space came to an end. The changing environment and the lurking butterfly (Facebook). Beware of the lurking butterfly. I see.