inequality in systems inevitably increases

I found this article this morning and wanted to share it. This article
is talking about power law curves in relation to blogs, which are online
diaries. However, this stuff is huge in implication. Take these quotes:

“Prior to recent theoretical work on social networks, the usual
explanations invoked individual behaviors: some members of the community
had sold out, the spirit of the early days was being diluted by the
newcomers, et cetera. We now know that these explanations are wrong, or
at least beside the point. What matters is this: Diversity plus freedom
of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more
extreme the inequality.”

“In systems where many people are free to choose between many options, a
small subset of the whole will get a disproportionate amount of traffic
(or attention, or income), even if no members of the system actively
work towards such an outcome. This has nothing to do with moral
weakness, selling out, or any other psychological explanation. The very
act of choosing, spread widely enough and freely enough, creates a power
law distribution.”

“The basic shape is simple – in any system sorted by rank, the value for
the Nth position will be 1/N. For whatever is being ranked — income,
links, traffic — the value of second place will be half that of first
place, and tenth place will be one-tenth of first place. (There are
other, more complex formulae that make the slope more or less extreme,
but they all relate to this curve.)”

“Now, thanks to a series of breakthroughs in network theory by
researchers like Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Duncan Watts, and Bernardo
Huberman among others, breakthroughs being described in books like
Linked, Six Degrees, and The Laws of the Web, we know that power law
distributions tend to arise in social systems where many people express
their preferences among many options. We also know that as the number of
options rise, the curve becomes more extreme. This is a
counter-intuitive finding – most of us would expect a rising number of
choices to flatten the curve, but in fact, increasing the size of the
system increases the gap between the #1 spot and the median spot.”

“We are so used to the evenness of the bell curve, where the median
position has the average value, that the idea of two-thirds of a
population being below average sounds strange.”

“Inequality occurs in large and unconstrained social systems for the
same reasons stop-and-go traffic occurs on busy roads, not because it is
anyone’s goal, but because it is a reliable property that emerges from
the normal functioning of the system.”

In other words freedom is slavery, and inequality is inevitable in
systems of free choice.