peer pressure, mailing list convergence, [fear of change]
Bradley M. Kuhn
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 01:52:25 -0400
Dave Long wrote:
> > software). This makes for a small community and the probability of
> > overlap becomes high (isn't that the birthday paradox or whatever?)
> The birthday paradox works the other way: with large numbers of
> people on two mailing lists, even if the the odds are low that any
> specific individual on one list is on the other, the combinatorial
> means that the odds are relatively high that there will be some
You are correct, of course. I was thinking incorrectly about the birthday
I thought for about 10 minutes about what principle I was using, but I
couldn't think of one.
I guess I was using some sort of "cocktail party principle":
Chances are, if you are at the party, you know someone else in the room,
because someone "invited" you all to the party, so the "Kevin Bacon" numbers
*must* be low. (Indeed, if one person invited you all, the "Kevin Bacon"
numbers can never exceed one.)
I guess I was thinking that people on these mailing lists have *so* much in
common that an overwhelming majority of the rest of the world's population
don't have in common , that the probability of people knowing each other
is high. In general, I think people tend to know many more people that know
the same things that they do then they know people who know different
things. Does that make sense?
In addition, the mailing lists are all about such narrow topics (mostly
technical or free-software-political, I would guess) that the chance of
overlap is very high.
I am planning on starting a pro-feminist-men mailing list. It will be
interesting to see if there is *any* overlap at all from that mailing list
to all the technical and free-software-political ones I am on.
I am beginning to wonder if this is really worth all this analysis.
 Internet users, enjoy being on multiple mailing lists, have software
that can handle the excessive flow of email, like free software
- firstname.lastname@example.org - Bradley M. Kuhn - email@example.com -