Product & Startup Builder

The Wizards of Buzz - The influencers deciding what's cool on our behalf

Added on by Chris Saad.
The Wall Street Journal has an interest post about "The Wizards of Buzz".

From the article:

"Most sites are based on a voting model. Members look around the Web for interesting items, such as video clips, blog entries or news articles. A member then writes a catchy description and posts it, along with a link to the material, on the site, in hopes that other members find it just as interesting and show their approval with an electronic thumbs-up vote. Items that receive enough votes rise in the rankings and appear on the front page, which can be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. When an item is submitted by a popular or influential member -- one whose postings are closely followed by fellow members -- it can have a much better shot at making the front page."
It's a little scary. They imply that services like Digg, Reddit and Netscape have made influencers out of little-known everyday people. Why is that scary? Because we don't know these people. They have not been vetted by public opinion and to many users they are an opaque part of the process. It's not democracy if there is a small group of people pulling the strings.

No one diggs around digg looking for the 'Top Diggers List' - in fact now they CAN'T dig around Digg for it - because Digg has taken it offline. Check out the article to get a list of the top Digg, Reddit, Netscape and StumbleUpn user they found. It's not a list of people I want deciding my news for me.

So these popularity platforms are giving rise to micro-influencers who are actually having a huge affect on our news and information choices and most of us have very little idea who they are. That doesn't sound very social, transparent or desirable to me.

As I have said in previous posts - while popularity engines are fine for working out "what's cool" the real question should be "what is personally relevant: - finding news that affects my life and aligns with my interests.

Then, the only influencer in my media consumption is me and my Attention Profile.

Jason Calacanis thinks having top influencers is great. I guess he would because he also thinks paying the top contributors is great too. I'd invite him consider the Personal Relevance angle (he seems to be taking up challenges this month so why not).

Thanks to Marianne for pointing out the WSJ post to me.