More ranting. Step back so no one gets hurt. I realize that this is useless for those at TechCrunch. They won’t listen. They’re confident they know everything. But, it is at the very least therapeutic for me. I’ll also be able to use this as just one more case study example of the cluelessness my students should avoid in sites like TechCrunch.
Does anyone else get really turned off by these lame attempts of people trying so desperately to assign rankings of authority to all things blog, Twitter, etc.? I do. And, I’m fed up.
First, let’s consider the term authority, please.
An authority is “a person or body of persons in whom authority is vested” and/or the authority is an “accepted source of information, advice, etc.” (Source, and isn’t it sad that we have to share a definition for something like this?)
Techorati has been touting authority in their indexing of sites for some time. They still put the image in their results. You have to click the lil’ “?” to see that it is only Technorati’s version of authority. Translation? They need to have a good word to try and make their results look legitimate – even when they are not legitimate. And Technorati’s claims of legitimate authority is ridiculous.
At least they have now decided to label it “Technorati Authority” in their definition, but they don’t use the “Technorati Authority” label throughout their site. This makes Technorati continue to be a laughing stock with regard to rankings and research.
What’s the problem with these uses of the term authority? Technorati, for instance, does not actually vet the sites and links they are using to assign these labels of authority and ranking. Gee, come to think of it … even Google doesn’t vet incoming links/clicks either. Hmmm? They are, quite simply, just counting things. Is counting enough? No. “In counting tests, an African Grey Parrot, Magpies, Ravens, and squirrels can ‘count’ up to 6.” (Source) Maybe the parrots, magpies, ravens, and squirrels are running some of these sites.
Yes, I’m sorry to tell you this but … squirrels are in charge of TechCrunch. Meet the co-editor squirrel at TechCrunch. Squirrel #2 put paws to keyboard and tapped out this little gem: It’s Not How Many Followers You Have That Counts, It’s How Many Times You Get Retweeted.
Squirrel boy is all excited. I think he had a blogasm. Seriously.
[blawg az-uhm] –noun
the physical and emotional sensation experienced at the peak of blog comment excitation, usually resulting from stimulation of the social media link-bait blego (blog ego) and usually accompanied by (mostly males) commenting, tweeting and blogging with idiotic glee. Synonym: ignorance (is bliss)
Some people have created a few little toys that count things. Woo Hoo!. This has sent squirrel boy (and his friends; the parrots, magpies and ravens) into an apoplectic frenzy of sycophant reach-around joy. See Full Metal Jacket, if you’re not familiar with the phrase.
You see, they’ve found a new link bait post topic that will likely carry them through a few days of the startup downturn and holiday “we can’t find any real news” vacuum that exists today.
What these tools are doing (yes, the scripts & the people) is counting what is sort of an exponential shell game. Certainly the Twitter users with the most followers have a greater potential to be retweeted. That doesn’t mean they are influential. It doesn’t mean they are writing interesting content, either.
Has anyone followed back to see who the retweeters are? Has anyone followed back to see if the retweeters are making fun of the post? These are just a few of the possibilities. You see, the most influential and/or interesting retweets might well be taking place between a group of just three or four people. Has anyone looked into that? No. So, we now have just the simplest examples of why these simple counting scripts are pretty much worthless as a research tool.
One person is making some ridiculous claims with his lil’ toy, too.
My comment, which I chose to post here instead, is as follows:
Well, it is an interesting script that counts stuff. However, it really has very little meaning, now does it. In research, we tend to compare similar variables. When you write, “They are the once (sic) producing most interesting content across the twittersphere” you’re stating a falsehood. No, they are (at best) posting content of interest to their audience. That’s all. You have not vetted the content in each retweet instance. Therefore, you don’t know if they are making fun of the person or retweeting it because it is interesting or any number of other possibilities. You are, quite simply, counting RT. That’s it. This is nothing more than an exponential shell game and/or fetish with assigning ranks.
We won’t waste time by discussing independent, status and/or dependent variables here. The squirrels may be able to count, but they sure won’t understand the concepts behind research.
Folks, when you see people all excited about their new abacus (that’s a compliment, by the way … these guys probably couldn’t work an abacus) run the other way. They are clueless. It is more TechCrunch self-absorbed nonsense.
Would a more powerful and useful version of search for Twitter be welcomed? Yes. Do these new tools do that? No.
Yes, I realize this is perhaps the beginning of development of useful tools. But, don’t get all hyped up with terms like authority and rank when your current toys don’t accomplish the feat. Please, stop the insanity. I beg you.