Klout.com:	  The	  problem	  of	  pseudo-­‐descriptive	  metrics	                                                         ...
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Klout: The problem of pseudo-descriptive metrics

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Transcript of "Klout: The problem of pseudo-descriptive metrics"

  1. 1. Klout.com:  The  problem  of  pseudo-­‐descriptive  metrics   By  Martin  Svetlík  [socialnimedia.blogspot.com]      Its  been  a  month  since  I  first  checked  my  klout  score,  a  sort  of  standard  for  value  in  social  networks.  After  shooting  to  54  in  the  first  week,  it  has  been  falling  down  steadily  since.  Well,  it  does  not  bother  me  that  much  –  until  someone  uses  my  klout  score  to,  for  example,  see  if  I  have  enough  network  value  for  a  social  media  specialist  job.  This  is  what  Bonnie  Stewart1,  my  today`s  inspiration,  is  writing  about  in  her  post.  I  would  like  to  go  a  little  further  in  my  thoughts.   The   reason   why   klout   is   the   evil   of   social   networks   is   far   more   pragmatic   than  Bonnie  thinks.  The  reason  is,  of  course,  money.  In  the  old  times,  when  the  main  goal  of  social  networks  was  to  connect   its  users,  give  them  means  of  communication  they   had  not  had  before  and  bring  some   benefit   to   the   online   community,   everything   was   fine.   But   most   social   networks   did  not  last  long  in  this  stage  and  the  “user-­‐owned”  platforms  started  to  become  stock  market  traded  corporations,  whose  main  objective  is  to  maximize  their  profit.    Monetization  of  the  social  capital  However,  their  only  way  of  generating  profit  comes  from  the   sheer  number  of  users  and  the  depth  of  their  interactions.  In  seek  of  profit  growth  the  networks  have  to  push  for  greater  user   activity.   A   user   with   40   friends,   who   visits   his   account   once   in   a   week   and   avoids  brands,   is   basically   “user   trash”   for   Facebook.   His/her   social   capital   is   very   small   and   the  potential  for  monetization  approaches  zero.  Therefore,  efforts  of  these  social  networks  (i.e.  corporations  behind  them)  are  to  maximize  each  users  social  capital  and  thus  maximize  own  profit.  Once   a   neutral   platform   now   forces   us   to   use   the   network   according   to   its   rules.   Klout   score  will  never  be  a  relevant  indicator  of  our  impact  in  any  social  network,  but  rather  an  indicator  of  our  exploitability,  as  it  forces  us  to  conform  to  the  ideal  user  who  is  present  in  all  social  networks,  influences  everybody  else,  and  most  of  all  –  serves  as  a  perfect  source  of  money  when  sold  over  to  the  marketing  departments  of  companies.    Why  is  high  klout  score  good  for  you?  The   maliciousness   of   the   system   is   that   it   looks   neutral   and   descriptive,   when   in   fact   it   is  profoundly  normative  –  it  motivates  us  to  maximize  our  exploitability  with  a  clear  evaluation  criterion:  the  higher  the  score,  the  better  we  are.  The  point  is  that  user  involvement  in  social  networks  is  usually  not  a  race  with  others.  But  for  corporations  operating  social  networks,  this   precise   race   among   users   over   who   will   be   more   social,   is   the   very   optimum,   since   it  increases   the   profit   from   each   user   (more   social   capital   of   the   user   =   more   profit   for   the  platform).  Is  there  a  solution?  Well,  as  long  as  Wikipedia  resists  to  have  sponsored  stories,  product  placement  and  for-­‐sale  positions  in  its  search  engine,  there  is  hope  that  social  networks  can  operate  on  non-­‐profit  basis,  without  the  malignant  desire  to  maximize  (whatever  they  want  to  maximize).  But  as  long  as  Justin  Bieber  has  the  highest  klout  score,  we  have  to  beware,  because  it  means  that  there  is  something  rotten  within  the  current  pseudo-­‐descriptive  metrics.                                                                                                                  1 http://www.salon.com/2011/11/13/klout_is_bad_for_your_soul/singleton/   written  for  [socialnimedia.blogspot.com]  

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