Last week, a member of one of our sections of this course gave a thorough presentation of the service Klout, which measures the subscriber’s social network influence. This blog post at Cyborgology, one of the suite of blogs at The Society Pages, commenting upon a piece in Salon.com by Bonnie Stewart, also a previous contributor to Cyborgology, critiques how Klout helps shape our online interactions. This is an example of the deeper analysis of these technologies, particularly as they appear in this last segment of the course.
Stewart criticizes the idea of rationalizing our online interaction (i.e., submitting them to greater efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control). She also notes that Klout is limited in that it fails to measure how our online actions influence (i.e., augment) activity in the offline world. Finally, she discusses how knowledge that Klout exists influences the way people behave online, making them more inclined to act in such a way as to improve their score. Cyborgology editor Nathan Jurgenson recently described this tendency to view our present actions from the perspective of the documents they will eventually produce as “documentary vision.”
Both the commentary by PJ Rey and the original article offer rich analysis employing concepts such as rationalization and augmented reality. Though I am not a frequent Foursquare user, one of my friends in RL made a big deal about displacing me as mayor of a venue we both frequent—I had inadvertently displaced him while he was away on business. Klout may not only induce us to act in ways to improve our influence scores, it may do so in a way that separates online and offline activity (digital dualism), ignoring the latter. Both are worth exploring.