Klout and the Ease of Forgetting Social Media’s Promise

“Yes, ‘winning’ matters, but it’s winning at hard things – intrinsic motivation – that really matters. People aren’t stupid. Pasting scoring on trivial activities doesn’t make them less trivial. As Rilke said in his poem The Man Watching, ‘What we fight with is so small, and when we win, it makes us small.'” – Tim O’Reilly as posted on Google+.

It’s a great point of view from Tim about what he calls the shallow end of gamification.
As I start this week in a somber mood, trying to get a grip on some hard things in my personal life (no, I don’t tell you everything online), it brings me back around to thoughts that have been floating around in my head for a while now.
Klout list of most influential women

There’s a little blue sticky note on my desk with two sentences written down to remind me to put it to paper post. It says, “Klout has added foursquare, flickr and others. What’s next? My Fandango account?”

My initial thoughts were around privacy and how little it really takes for us to give up more and more of it. A free Spotify account earlier than everyone else and $30 worth of free moo cards? Sure, I’ll connect you to my Goggle+ account!

I throw no stones. I stand guilty of accepting both of those “Klout perks” referenced and of connecting every new service they bring on board to which I currently subscribe.

The human ego is so easily stroked that we forget how small a thing increasing our Klout score is and how it can make us small. It can make us forget what all this social media was supposed to be about.

What brought this home for me was an interview with Klout’s founder Joe Fernandez that I read in “The Social Media Monthly” magazine during my recent travels (the fact that there is a print publication out there focused solely on social media is a whole other post to be written). In it he says:

“A year from now I think we continue our march as being the standard around measuring influence. And we’re really focused on how do we make consumers, end users, care that they have Klout Scores? I get mad when I see CNN scrolling tweets and they don’t have Klout Scores next to them. I want you to see that Klout Score everywhere you go.”

So, does he mean CNN should only show tweets from people with high Klout scores? Or, we as readers of the tweets should only pay attention to those with high Klout scores?

Either way, I thought the beauty of social media was that it gave everyone a voice and you didn’t have to be “someone” to be heard. Too idealistic?

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