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Audience

The first important factor that determines whether a hypertext application can attain critical mass, is the audience it targets. A web-savvy audience is more likely to adopt a hypertext application, than an audience of people that distrust the web on principle. Dorine Andrews, for example, found that middle-aged career-switchers don't trust forums, unless they are visibly moderated and backed by a trusted party.

Another maybe obvious, but important thing to consider, is that there must be a need or a desire to use the application among the intended audience. For example a group that already forms a community in the off-line world will likely be interested in communicating after moving their communications onto a (new) platform. Similarly, people that have fewer other outlets for their writings might be more interested in contributing them to a hypertext-community. To speak with Maslow and his pyramid of human needs: if their higher needs are met elsewhere, or if their lower needs are not met, people are unlikely contributors.

Also a small shift in peoples interest in, or perception of, an application, can have big consequences. A good illustration of this is that, as explained by Philip Ball, in a simulation of green and blue agents a strict segregation will be achieved if they have only a slight preference to live near agents of the same colour. Thus while obviously a web-community for digital humanists is more likely to succeed than one for Luddites, the digital humanists group is also more likely to succeed than one for slightly less web-oriented humanists.

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