Three different times I found myself wallowing in anguish while reading an Internet news story. Ready for the ride?
Klout is a social media metric that measures how influential you are and gives you a score between 1 and 100. The higher your score, the more people you influence. Apparently, there are companies and hotels and stuff that have started giving perks to people with high Klout scores. On one hand, this is the intended benefit of the company, on the other hand it feels like anti-democratic dirty pool. Some people get to cut to the front of the line because they’re more influential? What the fuck?
It made me think of the Chicago Tribune news stories about the recent scandal at the University of Illinois where it turned out that knowing someone important got you special treatment in the admissions process. The overall effect of the scandal was huge, but it mostly happened because the geniuses (and I don’t mean that sarcastically at all, I love that they did this) in admissions created a special track for clout applications. So there were literally records of people who got special treatment and why. This is, of course, the above board way to do it — if your boss is telling you to give the congressman’s neighbor’s kid a special review, you do so, but you document the heck out of it.
I hope that companies using Klout to give perks to some customers are exposed and punished by the marketplace for doing so.
Much of what I read makes me think this is a political move that stands hardly any chance of actually becoming law, but it still makes me absolutely goddamn furious. Go read about it, and weep for our lost freedoms. What I don’t understand is why so many Republicans would support this bill — I thought they were about less government, about Freedom, goddamn it.
It also makes me mad that it was rushed through with quick major ammendments at the last minute. This isn’t what democracy is about. This isn’t the public, fair debate of ideas aimed at making our country a better place. At best, it’s a wrong-headed and dangerous political game of chicken designed to make one party (or the other) look bad. At worst, it’s another reduction of the potential for individual liberty in the digital age taken by people who have power and don’t understands its implications.
3. Brogrammers – “Silicon Valley’s Brogrammer Problem”
The Mother Jones story about the rising visible sexism and Frat-house culture infecting recent tech startups doesn’t really point out anything new about the kinds of places twentysomething men assemble when left to their own devices. But it does raise a disturbing ripple effect that these sorts of myopic sexist idiots have on the wider culture of geekdom. Fortunately, the Internet seems to be smacking back pretty hard at these Mooks (to use Douglas Rushkoff’s term from Merchants of Cool), but not hard enough for my taste.
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On the upside, the Internet giveth as well as taketh away. My favorite thing about the Klout article, though, was its last paragraph, which encapsulates the hope I have for the wonderful Internet. Seth Stevens writes:
Over time, I found my eyes drifting to tweets from folks with the lowest Klout scores. They talked about things nobody else was talking about. Sitcoms in Haiti. Quirky museum exhibits. Strange movie-theater lobby cards from the 1970s. The un-Kloutiest’s thoughts, jokes, and bubbles of honest emotion felt rawer, more authentic, and blissfully oblivious to the herd. Like unloved TV shows, these people had low Nielsen ratings—no brand would ever bother to advertise on their channels. And yet, these were the people I paid the most attention to. They were unique and genuine. That may not matter to marketers, and it may not win them much Klout. But it makes them a lot more interesting.