Real world gamed?

Techmeme creator Gabe Rivera in an interview at Wired:

“The way I view it, Techmeme is gamed continuously because the real world is gamed continuously: Gamed in the sense that bloggers have always traded links and various other gestures of attention, sometimes through unspoken agreements, sometimes not. This was going on before my sites arrived, though these kinds of things can affect Techmeme. It’s hard to say how much.”

(my emphasis added)

Techmeme creator Gabe Rivera in an interview at Wired:

“The way I view it, Techmeme is gamed continuously because the real world is gamed continuously: Gamed in the sense that bloggers have always traded links and various other gestures of attention, sometimes through unspoken agreements, sometimes not. This was going on before my sites arrived, though these kinds of things can affect Techmeme. It’s hard to say how much.”

(my emphasis added)

The interview question that led to Gabe’s response was probably aimed at more insidious gaming, but Gabe realizes that it’s all one spectrum. The real world is all about gaming: the online equivalent only makes it easier to see. This applies to so many things…a major feature of the Web is the recording of human behavior in its many forms. To a lesser extent is the creation of truly new behaviors.

Over time, we’re going to learn a tremendous amount about how people interact socially with one another because we can record things on the Web. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had lately with designers that ended up like “well, we’re doing design, too, but we’re really doing a ton of psychology”. The amount of effort and design energy being focused on the social interactions of people around a service is growing. Part of this results from the realization that we’re all not building the next MySpace. Most of us are working on something much smaller in scope, but still all about connecting people. Take an existing, successful service (or a startup), and figure out what social interactions will help that service grow and be successful.

Back to Techmeme. There is only a scale difference between those people who quickly post about a top story to get included in Techmeme and those who seed it in some other reverse-engineering way. I’ve known folks who reverse-engineer it fully, who figure out what you have to do at what time to get a story posted, even down to manipulating the way that Techmeme clusters posts, but it was mostly harmless geek fun. The advantage to Techmeme is that, so far, it has really felt unbiased in the way that content has been chosen. The stories that should be big are big on Techmeme.

Read the rest of the interview with Gabe at Wired.

That said, I do think that gaming Techmeme and gaming Digg are two different animals. As I’ve written before, the gaming on Digg has a lot to do with the design of the interface…practically asks for gaming, really. Techmeme’s interface certainly shows priority and changes over time, but it feels more opaque than Digg.

Published: May 18th, 2007

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