Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stumbleupon: More like Stumble Loop?

Rigged! Rig-diculous! Bullshit!
So, like the legions of new bloggers, I've turned to the "social bookmarking" and other new technological services in the ATTENTION ECONOMY. Unless you just swoon at the sound of your own voice (or the sight of your own words, er blog), then you're doing this to address people. Good thing there are all these helping tech-hands for you.

I am really disappointed in Stumbleupon. I've read that it is essential for those attention-deficients like us. Yet when I spent about an hour on it this morning, filling out profile stuff, and then stumbling, I noticed that the order of stumble appearance is rigged. I clicked stumble and then ran into the first ridiculous site "When I was little I thought I had the power to change stop lights," and then the next was simply a page advertising all the different social bookmarking services. This was followed by "How to tick people off." I was amazed that none of these sites seemed to clearly correspond to the interests I had checked, which were supposed to streamline my "stumbles" on to particular sites. The only reason for this, I hypothesize, is that some of these sites create hundreds (thousands?) of stumbleupon entries as new identities and/or they build a massive "friends" network to favorably review them, which builds their appearance power. Strange algorithms for stumbling. What is worse is that these same three sites appeared again and again, when I'd hit "stumble." These same sites appeared twice out of 12 clicks, half of the clicks took me back to these same sites.

So I tried my other stumble ID, for my other blog (as far as I can tell, one can have but one blog per stumble identity). Lo and behold the same experience as before! I give stumble a big thumbs down, or perhaps more fitting: an erect middle finger!

This is the age we live in. The blog is a fantastic new technology, potentially democratic, which reverses older media relationships of production and consumption. But the fact that one produce something, regardless of quality of product, hardly guarantees any attention at all. This dynamic, unfortunately, is much more like older media and the "free market" outside. Attention to products and sales have very little if anything to do with quality of the product. It has everything to do with advertising, at which bigger companies with bigger budgets (time included) have a colossal advantage.

True, the internet attention economy is not just about having an advertising budget. But the point is that the product has little to do with the attention it gets. All of the networking, "friends", multiple profiles with the same blog listed on many of these new attention-getting services--what kind of culture is it promoting? Who are we caught up in this, as we tweet from our cell phones, "I am just leaving the office. God did that blow!" ? Reality TV and voyeurism? The fetish of being the object of a voyueur? Tabloidization of the internet?
Oh, I know, you'll just tell me I have sour grapes for having a couple of hundred registered followers on my blog, the majority probably cool hunters and other bloggers trying to leave comments to direct my readers to their blog...
Your thoughts?

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