New Mediocrity Amplifier for Web Ships, Scoble Looks on in Horror
Posted by Bob Warfield on December 28, 2008
That Echo Chamber Fail motif that Loic LeMeur and Michael Arrington launched has taken on quite a life. Arrington lectures the blogosphere to, “get it together people,” he is right (surprised?). Scoble responds with one of the hilarious posts that only he can do with, “Thanks Mike Arrington for taking us off the rails into Twitter idiot land.”
This morning I see that some folks have rushed into availability a Twitter search engine called Twitority that does precisely what these two gents requested–it ranks search results based on how many followers (the “authority”) the Tweeter has. I heard about it from Loic’s blog, where he adds that he doesn’t see this sort of thing as censorship, but just one useful form of filtering.
Is Twitority an Echo Chamber as I predicted?
Well let’s do that search on LeWeb that Loic suggested was his reason for wanting such a feature. His problem was he didn’t want to read through 7,000 Tweets about LeWeb. Here is what I get from Twitority on the first 10 results:
1. Loic himself talking about the conference. Gee, that’s Echo Chamber fodder.
2. dotdean complaining about bots. Maybe useful.
3. Loic’s blog post about Twitority. More EchoChamber.
4. igorthetroll asking to be invited to LeWeb to annoy Loren.
5. Pandaran happy about seeing streaming video from LeWeb.
6. haropakorss: We need search by auhtority!
7. ledretch: response to lezepf about not having enough time with 3 jobs to look at LeWeb.
8. dalesio: Is watching the Gillmor gang live at LeWeb while his mom makes him bacon, pancakes, and eggs.
9. dalesio is also watching @garyvee at LeWeb because he brought the THUNDER!!!
10. ulihegge: It’s in German. No idea what he’s saying, but it looks like he is watching Gillmor gang too.
OK, not a lot of great insights there based on “authority”. Let’s try the first 10 on Twitter for comparison: it’s not a lot better, BTW.
1. TwitLinkRSS teling us of Loic’s post about Twitority.
2, 3: luv_leweb and jlegon post identical messages (retweeting is alive and well) on a video interview with Loic.
4-10: luv_leweb and others repeating itself about the problem with damned bots (same as #2 on Twitority). Seems the bots themselves have annoying feedback loops.
Here are a few thoughts:
- The Echo Chamber begats the Echo Chamber. You can try to make a living just writing about whatever shows up on TechMeme or whatever Arrington/Scoble/<insert favorite big name here> says, but you’re just doing more echoing, and people are tired of it. The web eliminates friction. If everyone conforms, only the few leaders at the top will benefit. Seek out the long tail and write about that. If you must write about the big stories, add some sort of unique value or spin. I’m trying to provide some analysis and a model for how to think about it, for example, rather than just calling names and creating link bait. Scoble gets this idea that the Echo Chamber begats the Echo Chamber when he says:
It is far more important who you follow than who follows you: if you follow people just to get followers you’ll end up being overworked, deep in information overload, and superficial to boot.
- Search is particularly hard when what you are searching for is caught up in the Echo Chamber. Searching for LeWeb is a prime example. It’s an Echo Chamber experience, and so neither set of search results had much interesting to say about it.
- Immediacy is a natural filter that trumps followers. When confronted with searching Echo Chamber Terms, opt for time as your filter. You want the earliest posts and not the echo posts. This has been one of the great charms of Twitter. It’s a lot less about searching and a lot more about being right there as it happens. That’s why Scoble lives on these darned feeds 24×7. That’s why he’s got the news and you don’t. If you don’t want to live on it 24×7, don’t write about the Echo Chamber stories. Head out into the hinterlands and find something interesting. If you succeed, people will be echoing you!
It’s clear from both search examples above that some smarter filtering is needed. Looking at these results, being able to get to the origin of things being retweeted in a smart way might be valuable. If I had only seen the Tweet that started complaining about bots (perhaps that was dotdean), and the other slots were other equally original thoughts and not echoes, that would have been more interesting.
The best filter would do what Scoble says he wants: to have smarter conversations every day.
Is that what you want?