Monday, April 27, 2009

How to improve quality of online comments

At best, comments are distractions or ego-boosts , depending on the bloggers personality. Once you read the first 5-10 comments below a highly commented-upon post, you know you have read all the comments - it is rambling echo chamber, if not a free-for-all self-promotion pulpit.

Writing about the disappointing quality of online comments, Virginia Heffernan writes in The New York Times,
Commenters, in short, rarely really sock it to a columnist. They also too often go automatic, churning out 100-word synopses of one stock ideological position after another.

But most disappointing of all, for readers, is that commenters don’t, as literary critics say, read an article against itself to show how, for example, an argument framed as incendiary is in fact banal, or one that’s meant to be feminist is retrogressive, or one that touts its originality is a knockoff.
How do we fix online commenting? Virginia offers her solution, citing the example of
Creating registration standards, inventive means of moderating and displaying comments, membership benefits for regular posters and ratings systems for useful comments are just some of the ways that other news outlets like Slate have improved the quality of reader responses.

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The coming age of booklogs

In short, booklogs are excerpts from books posted as blog articles and readers rate them, add comments a nd so on, sort of Youtube for books. Again, copyright issues will be sent for a toss but I think writers of controversial and racy paragraphs will find it easy to develop a following.

Booklogs will be fueled by Amazon's e-book reader Kindle, which is still in its early days. Steven Johnson writes about booklogs in the Wall Street Journal:

As the writer and futurist Kevin Kelly says, "In the new world of books, every bit informs another; every page reads all the other pages."

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Swine flu and the uselessness of Twitter during emergencies

Mathew Ingram once said "Twitter is the first draft of history." Sadly, this first draft is taken for truth on Twitter, multiplied with each Re-tweet.

What is more, in case of emergencies, Tweets become 'the first draft of fear'
- with little or no context, Retweeted over and over, until only nonsense remains.

The Foreign Policy blog explains the uselessness of Twitter during emergencies:

Unlike basic internet search – which has been already been nicely used by Google to track emerging flu epidemics – Twitter seems to have introduced too much noise into the process: as opposed to search requests which are generally motivated only by a desire to learn more about a given subject, too many Twitter conversations about swine flu seem to be motivated by desires to fit in, do what one's friends do (i.e. tweet about it) or simply gain more popularity.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

It is Paid Media, not Social Media

For every success like Obama, Susan Boyle or the Battle at Kruger, there are millions of tonnes of social media spam. Social media experts have taken over social media from genuine social media users.

The abundance of cheap server space and mass availability of bandwidth has made sure that advertising remains as pervasive and sometimes deceptive as before.

In the Old Media Age, we all could identify advertising.
In the New Media Age, everything is promotion - Including the medium.

For every genuine Fan page on social networking sites, there are 100 Fan Pages created by overpaid so-called social media experts , populated by fake fans bribed with freebies, if not money.

For every genuine link posted on Twitter, there are services like that pay users to put links in their accounts.

For every tweet from genuine experts (like Jay Rosen or Dave Winer) or a passenger on a plane that has just crashed, paid hacks at PR firms are tweeting for their celebrity clients. Celebrity Tweeting is worse than Celebrity Blogging.

For every genuine complaint on consumer sites like, there are fake reviews on especially created blogs and fake forum accounts by people from so-called Digital Ad Agencies. There are Ad Agencies in India who are experts at pushing down negative reviews.

For every genuine link for tag such as 'bike' there are 100 repeated links to empty pages for the same tag.

For every genuine consumer review at sites like, companies are being pressured to pay for positive reviews.

For every forum post by a genuine young gamer, overpaid interns are posting fake praises for dumb-ass games.

The Confused Person's Guide to Web 2.0
Social Media is dead in 2009