The Romanian judges give you a 7.5.

All of these people had a Klout score of at least 72.

All of these people had a Klout score of at least 72.

(With apologies to the Star Wars Wikia from which the above was yoinked.)

There’s hand-wringing aplenty that can be taken from articles like the one Jeremiah Owyang posted a few days ago about social profiling and the ways this might shape up in the coming years.  Certainly, there are a great many people who, upon learning about services such as Klout, would not care to learn that

  1. their online activities are being watched,
  2. their online activities are being judged, and that
  3. these judgments are being rounded up by a proprietary algorithm that actually has credence with the places we shop.

How long until the kinds of discriminatory scenes that are today’s tongue-in-cheek sci-fi become very real inconveniences, or worse?  Like those put-upon protocol/astromech droids denied entry to the Mos Eisley cantina, the flipside to the Palms thing (wherein people with higher Klout scores were quietly receiving upgrades to their service) could turn the tables on current social hierarchies.

Rainbows End

No, it's not actually supposed to have an apostrophe.

Which means that right now is a hell of a time for me to be reading Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End.  It’s one of those futurist joints that was, when written, felt ripped from tomorrow’s headlines.  Reading it now, you can still sense the just-around-the-corner-ness, but even that’s become any-second-now-ness since its writing.

Characters in the nearish future are subject to scoring mechanisms that are a dime a dozen, and half-heartedly pursue this or that one to try and rack up points on a lark.  It’s a shiver-worthy reminder that today’s reward systems are tomorrow’s marketing tool to categorize and, in Owyang’s words, digitally groom.

The glass half full side of what may strike many of us as highly Big Brotherly, though, is that

a new pecking order in business could emerge that breaks corporate hierarchy, wealth, or attractiveness.

…which is potentially good news for the 99%.  How far off is a social ecosystem where the jowly, hair-gooped corporate tandroids who say things like “It is what it is” are told, sorry, there are no tables available, while regular-ass you and me are ushered past the velvet ropes?
Words invented in this post: tandroids.
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Gamifying Communities

People who know me personally are pretty much sick of hearing me say this: “…which reminds me of something in Reality is Broken.  Dude,”—(And that’s the gender-neutral use of dude, just so we’re clear, à la gender-issues think tank Less Than Jake)—”you should really read that book.”

You should, though.

The point is that lots of people in lots of businesses are thinking about games, game creation, and game mechanics. Some figure out what the motivates their communities, and it’s fun and it works. Some take the copy/paste approach use this reasoning:

  • I saw [online community] use an XP system, and it worked.
  • Therefore, we should employ an XP system, and accordingly, all sentient beings will be drawn to our page, and they will have The Funnest Ever, and the throngs will teem with diversion and merrymaking, and songs will be sung of our engagement in the mead-halls of community management henceforth.

This doesn’t always work out because of what I hope will one day be called the Longcat Tautology: Different communities are different.

That’s why I urge caution when I detect calls to leap upon, or otherwise heave oneself bodily, atop the moving bandwagon. (I just thought up the word “brandwagon” but I opted not to use it. Sometimes it is the job of the writer to explore the ghastliest depths of punnery and then, perversely, protect the reader from it.) I don’t agree with the statement that

Ultimately, people play games for a chance to win

or a great many other statements in that article, but I do agree with the nobility of efforts to

Know what motivates the various groups in your community and feed those motivations.

from same.  I feel that, from a purely gaming perspective, a spacious swath of counterexamples abound, from Diablo to Draw Something. Unless you are Charlie Sheen, winning is only superficially the point. The act of actually playing it—testing your mettle against those arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions—is the actual fun part. In the world of what I refuse to call “hardcore” gaming, where consumers swing, Tarzan-like, from one $60 vine to the next, completion is assumed.

There is really a paralyzing volume of topics to be explored at the intersection of gaming and communities. I presume this will be the first of many returns to the topic in the coming months, but I want to see what kind of themes arise from the people I speak with and go from there.

That reminds me, you should read Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal.

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Good problems to have.

I just saw a community manager on a community management Facebook group post their community managerial problem.  Well, problem, pronounced with emphatic air quotes.

She is a CM for a local business, and customers and fans had set up their own adoring Facebook group about her company.  She expressed that she thought the two pages were incompatible and that she felt threatened.  After all, what use is there in having a CM if your customers are serving that role?

This might just be my marketing experience talking (you’ll know if it is, because it will probably use a marketing word), but  customers inspired to do volunteer cheerleading for a brand (Dammit!) is not only a great sign, but also a priority-one place to engage.  If they’re not coming to you, go to them.

Elliot Volkman has written about external online communities, and one takeaway is that it isn’t a bad thing…

[W]hy on earth would you want to constrain conversations to one specific location unless you wanted full control of what was being said?

…but it should be treated differently.

Unfortunately just because you build something, does not mean people will flock to it. You must go to them, and by them I am referring to your intended audience.

Find where your potential members are currently discussing related things to entering the work force, open some dialogues, and build credibility. From there people may come to respect your opinion, and that is where you can either pull them back to your community or simply begin tracking engagement externally.

(Link to article on  Certainly some shrewd, mad-scientist-like beard-stroking must be done over the strategy: trying to move them to your page could be risky, and the cost in goodwill is a very real peril.  Each community is different and it’s up to the community architect to identify those differences and engage accordingly with appropriate tools and personality.

Conclusion LolConclusionThat said, if you find that your fans, customers, or whatever target audience (Dammit!) are out there interacting with one another solely because of your company, please let your first reaction be

instead of


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If I told you I was going to try to enforce some standards on the internet, you might say that sounds remarkably like attempting to herd cats.  Cats with white Impact-font captions, even.  That’s why

This not about policing the internet from a place of top-down authority


the goal here is to attribute ethically, regardless of how you do it

according to the “Why Attribute?” section at The Curator’s Code.  No, that’s not a thriller novel about freemasons hiding secret messages in our animated GIFs.  (…yet.  Race you to the copyright office!)  It’s a simple, straightforward way of attributing not just the source but the thread of discovery using ᔥ (for “Via” in cases where you are directly reposting a thing) and ↬ (for “Hat Tip” in cases where your headwear is literally doffed you elaborate or add something to the topic and would prefer to nod at where it came from).

Why do I like it?  Because:

  1. It’s got that whole “academic integrity” thing going on, instead of having that whole “we are parrots in cyberspace blindly repeating or copy/pasting things” thing going on,
  2. Their site has tasteful graphic design and I am an unabashed sucker for slab serif fonts,
  3. The same news stories tend to come at me from fifteen directions in a day (“Hey did you read that—” “No, I haven’t seen that because I don’t have an omnipotent robot in my pocket oh wait I do it’s called an iPhone and yes that was on Mashable like fifty minutes ago.”), and finally
  4. because quote trolling is a valid artform and also one of the best ways to enrage fans of any major entertainment franchise in existence.  But it should be recognizable from at least twenty yards away by reasonable humans.

So I’m going to try to adopt it where possible.  That said, in a moment of some of the most heavy-handed irony I have yet experienced this weekend, I actually have no idea where found out about the Curator’s Code.  At the time of this writing, I have about seven squillion tabs open and not a trace of the conceptual path that lead me there.  So, off to a great start!  The next post will be written with my right hand as I facepalm with my left.

The Curator’s Code.


No, you published 1 posts!

At the risk of getting meta, here’s what happened when I posted a single post to this site.

I am assuming that after 4 more (3 more, now) I become Level 2 Blogger.  I’m planning to put my talent points into “Brevity.”

I know RPG elements invaded not only all popular video games in the last 5 years or so, such that progress bars and XP treatment had shown up in everything from the biggest console bro shooters to, but I hadn’t realized that writers were susceptible to that kind of feedback.

Also: “1 posts,” amirite?

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Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Novelist Stephen Marche covers some new research at The Atlantic suggesting that while our world is rapidly becoming more and more, like, interconnected (crunch, crunch) maaaaaan, we are becoming less social.  “We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information.”

I haven’t finished reading it yet, so shh.

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