Yesterday Mike Arrington took us off the rails and into the idiot land.
Listen, I’m as egotistical as the rest of them. I can say “follow me” along with the best of them. According to Loic Le Meur and Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, I have more authority than either of them because I have more followers on Twitter. Their words, not mine.
That idea is patently idiotic. We have been derailed from the promised land of smarter conversations on Twitter and have moved into the idiot land if that’s the way we think.
Even worse, my post yesterday about this got 12x more traffic than my two video posts did (even though one of them was with the guy who named Web 2.0 and is my favorite interview of the year). The 12seconds.tv video post took far more time and money to do (and more time to think about and consume too). The fact that no one cares about actually learning something and trying a new service or hearing about how the entrepreneurs are doing it is telling me a LOT.
We’re off the rails and well into idiot land now.
Why is former TechCrunch author Duncan Riley is writing about celebrity news more on his Inquisitr blog than trying to find another tech scoop? Look at the traffic curves. TechCrunch is headed down for the past few months. Inquistr, Riley’s new site, is headed up.
We are a land of idiots. Idiots care about who is following them. Idiots care more about celebrity news than science. Or technology. Or geeky stuff.
Idiots try to rank things based on who has the most followers. Idiots can’t be bothered with thinking about adding value like Tim O’Reilly or Jay Rosen, all guys who teach you something in nearly every tweet and who I can’t remember ever caring about how many followers they have.
Look at this attitude close up in this post by Jesse Stay, who posted his defense of the follower idiocy on Louis Gray’s blog so it could “get to more eyeballs.”
Of course, Mike Arrington is not an idiot. Neither is Loic Le Meur. Neither is Jesse Stay. So, what are they up to?
They know there is money in idiocy. That is where their future traffic will come from. That is where their profits will come from. There aren’t enough smart people so you gotta create some drama to pull in the idiots. Steve Gillmor figured it out.
Maybe I’m the idiot. Sigh.
Now, to be fair, the post that started this mess, from Loic Le Meur, had a good goal: to make it possible to find better tweets in searches. In other words, to separate the news from the noise. Except Loic used the word “authority” and hooked it to popularity: the number of followers one has.
Loic claims he didn’t do that to start a fight, but that demonstrates he just didn’t know that the idiots would rebel against the thought that they don’t matter as much as someone else. It also fed the idiots who believe that the only thing in life that matters is celebrity. How lame.
Here’s why I’ve been saying for the past year that 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. You won’t have a philosophy. It +will+ show. You might be able to fool most of the idiots most of the time, but eventually they’ll see the difference between the “collect follower” types and the “surround yourself with smart people” types like Tim O’Reilly or Jay Rosen.
I can smell the “follow me” types a million miles away, can’t you?
One crowd is off the rails in idiot land, the other is building something of lasting value.
Which one do we want to incent? The “follow me” idiots? Or the “try to get smarter” crowd?
I know I’m swimming upstream, but I want to get smarter. Screw the page views. Screw the business models. They all are lame anyway. I want better friends. Better content. Better news. Better ideas. That means I need to find better people to be part of my social network. Idiots be damned.
So, when I say that listing search results by numbers of followers is idiotic, now you know where I’m coming from. There are a lot better ways to find the high value Tweets. I covered that yesterday. But no one cared, which is why that post didn’t show up on TechMeme.
I guess I should just give in and join the idiot crowd. I bet this post gets on TechMeme or, even better, Digg.
See, this is why I really don’t care about Mike Arrington’s claim that I should blog more because my traffic is going down. If I cared only about building a business or making money then he’d definitely be right.
My goal, though, is to have smarter conversations every day. Does anyone else care about that goal? Or are you all wanting to be celebrities so you can sell stuff on your Twitter account, like what Jesse Stay is advocating for?
How do we get this back on the tracks now that Arrington has derailed us?