Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lead Users and Peer-to-Peer backup

My favorite gaming blog just posted an entry on the subject of 'Lead Users' -- the power users of a service who generate above-average content that they then share with the other more casual users (think of the people making a living creating and selling Second Life virtual items).

I commented in response to the post that I think financial incentives for power users are likely to become more and more likely. As long tail businesses become increasingly popular, a lot of these new initiatives will need to attract the Lead Users to help initially seed the system with the quality content that will then in turn help attract the more casual users. Financial incentives aren't the only way to attract such users, certainly, but it is probably the easiest (in that it is the most readily understandable by the masses).

This subject reminds me of an idea I had a while ago for peer-to-peer backup and how Lead Users were at the core of the idea. As an example: a user signing up for the service for free (casual user) would could have access to 1Gb of network storage for their backups in exchange for 100Mb of space on their own hard drive. Lead Users, however, could have multiple tiers of additional advantages for increasing the amount of space that they donate to the network. Increased network storage space, increased redundancy (and therefore less chance that the data won't be available when you need it), etc.

There were a lot of issues with the idea that were difficult to get over (encrypting the data, a system for redundancy to ensure data was accesible when it was needed, stigma and fear over storing private information on unknown peer's computers, etc) but I thought the idea of encouraging Lead Users through incentives was a nice way to ensure there was enough available network storage space for the demands of the casual users.


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