Tuesday, May 12, 2020

About Klout

Many years ago, there was a thing called Klout, which looked as if it might become a very big thing, but didn’t. It aimed to quantify an individual’s social media influence across various platforms, as a score out of 100, and to offer rewards to those who scored high. Anyone who saw the Black Mirror episode Nosedive, about a dystopian future in which everyone’s worth is determined by the vagaries of likes, will be relieved that Klout is no longer with us.

I wrote a blog post about the app, musing about the fact it judged me to be an expert on some mysterious entity called “#pak”, which turned out to be a reference to two or three tweets concerning the 2011 Cricket World Cup. And there the whole thing would have rested, until I received an email this morning from one Sarah Miller, editor of something called Fitness Volt. The missive is headed “Love your article about back pain! (and a proposal)” and goes on to explain:
My team actually just published a comprehensive article on Lower Back Pain: Common Causes and Prevention For Athletes which I think your visitors would truly appreciate and add value to your awesome article.
It’s not as random as it seems. The title of my original post was “Klout: I get a pain in the back of my neck”, a reference to the profoundly old Cleese/Barker/Corbett class sketch and a reference to the idiotic hierarchies that such apps support. What had happened, presumably, is that Ms Miller conducted a massive search for blog posts including the words “back” and “pain” and hoped that one or two of the authors would be interested in the “added value” she could offer. The funny thing is that her blunderbuss approach made the same error that Klout did, scooping up some random text and trying to squeeze it into the desired meaning hole, even if it didn’t fit. Back pain is the new #pak. She did actually unearth something that could have been useful to her; if only she’d got round to reading it.

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