Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Does the Number of Thinking Blogs Increase Exponentially?

Written by johnleemk on 2:43:03 pm May 22, 2007.

Not very long ago, I mused about the lack of Malaysian blogs with ideas and opinions. Most seem to have focused on reporting information and spreading gossip, rather than engaging in serious thought.

This seems to be changing, albeit slowly. Although I still find there to be an acute shortage of thinking sociopolitical blogs here, they are at least not completely scarce.

After all, I was able to scrape together five thinking blogs when this site was tagged as part of a meme. And there are many new thinking blogs on the block compared to when I first started following blogs over two years ago.

For example, there is the blog of Haris Ibrahim, who is running a project to hold our MPs accountable. And you have the veritable Malay Male, who has been the inspiration of many articles on this site.

This sort of slow increase has gotten me thinking. At the Bloggers United Malaysia dinner on the 19th of May, Jeff Ooi assured me that within a few years, more opinionated thinking blogs would pop up.

There seems to be no reason to reject this conjecture. But if this is so, it probably means that thinking blogs increase exponentially, instead of in a linear manner.

If the number of such blogs were to increase linearly, then, shall we say, the number of thinking blogs would double every year. (Errata: The slope of the graph is two, but what this means is that the number of such blogs would increase by two every year.) This is something like the slow progress we have been seeing:

Linear graph

But an even more accurate model, I think, would depict an exponentially increasing function. In layman's terms, the number of blogs with constructive opinions, rather than meaningless gossip, would multiply by itself every year — perhaps a graph would explain this better:

Exponential graph

Obviously at the moment we are at the left end of the graph, where things are still moving slowly and in something resembling a linear fashion. After all, 2 to the power of 2 is equivalent to 2 times 2 — two graphs showing both the linear function y = 2x and the exponential function y = x^2 for the domain 0 to 2 (Errata: values 0 and 2) would be exactly identical.

Mathematical jargon aside, why do I think the number of blogs which contribute the ideas which will drive change in our country and society will increase exponentially?

Well, there is the fact that blogging is a social endeavour, and generally when you have chain letters, Ponzi schemes, etc. — basically anything which relies on social growth — then the growth will be exponential.

"Wait a minute," you might think. "But don't all Ponzi schemes collapse?" That's right — when the number of people to bring in drops, then the scheme can no longer sustain its exponential growth. (Fortunately, unlike Ponzi schemes, blogs don't die once they run out of new bloggers to recruit.)

Basically, if there is any growth after the saturation point is reached (and there is no reason to think there won't be a saturation point, considering people who can think are quite rare in our society), it will return to the linear model.

But until then, I eagerly look forward to that steeply increasing exponential curve which we should be approaching in a few years. That there are several thought-provoking blogs to read these days (even if relatively few compared to, say, the American sociopolitical blogosphere) is an encouraging sign.

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

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