Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

My prediction for 2012 and beyond: gamification of the entire social web

I like to compete!

I’ve been “fiddling” (as I do) with Empire Avenue and Klout lately. These are two very different attempts at measuring a person’s online influence and authority. If I’m not careful I can spend up to 30 minutes a day on Empire Avenue and I check my Klout most days.

Empire Avenue is far more elaborate than Klout, in may ways. It’s a deeply “gamified” experience, where you are given all kinds of things to do to increase your share price and wealth, to interact with others, and to, well, waste lots of time.

But standing back from these two services, and others like them, I am conscious of another much bigger opportunity for someone big. Think… Facebook big, or Google big. I’m thinking about the gamification of the entire social web.

Can you imagine it? In the not too distant future (a future that is approaching us at “internet speed”), pretty much everything you do online will be measured and will be intelligently ranked against pretty much everything everyone else does online, to give you a very detailed influence/authority score.

Presently, systems like Klout, Peer Index and Empire Avenue are very limited. They give us only the slimmest idea of what’s coming. They are limited to measuring you on a pathetically small handful of services: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and the like. The limitations of this should be obvious.

If you’re the most influential book reviewer on Amazon, none of these ranking services can see any of that. If you’re the most authoritative contributor to a large niche discussion forum on, say, day trading… none of these ranking services can see any of that either.

To suggest that Klout, Empire Avenue, Peer Index or the like can hope to give you a fair and comprehensive ranking is a nonsense. There are only three kinds of people who rank highly on them now: celebrities, social media professionals (who spend all day online and are “strategically prolific” in talking amongst themselves) and hackers – people like me who write and deploy scripts and other trickery to generate “activity” to make us look bigger and more awesome than we may actually be.

It’s also a fundamental flaw of these systems – in claiming to offer a single-digit representation of a person’s social media influence and authority – that they see the social media world as one homogenous “cosmos”. I may be Justin Bieber with a perfect score of 100/100 on Klout, but that doesn’t mean I’m in any way valuable to that huge and lively forum of day traders. I’m a total zero over there.

So what’s the end game here? What needs to happen? What do I think WILL happen?

Firstly, I think this is fundamentally a Very Big Data opportunity. So that means Google, Facebook or Microsoft. It’s only these sorts of monster internet businesses who can possibly hope to track your every move online. Google pretty much already does, but has a track-record of doing search+advertising sales brilliantly and pretty much everything else averagely. Microsoft does nothing really well outside of the enterprise or the desktop, so that leaves Facebook, who are very slow about extending outside their own domain name.

If I think Google is still a good chance it’s because their analytics product is almost everywhere, so they’re already tracking more online activity across websites, at least, than anyone else.

See, I think the big game here is about your identity! The winner is the company which can come out owning your identity online. That means: knowing more about you than anyone else, tracking where you go and what you do better than anyone else, and paying others for that information handsomely.

And no company is going to achieve that without giving you an enjoyable, rewarding, engaging experience, in the context of which you will be happy to stay loyal to them, to give them all your gory details, etc.

But for this winner to emerge, more than anything else, they are going to have to collect comprehensive information on your online activities. And as Facebook’s latest announcements make clear, there will need to be a lot better data collected on you than ever before.

Right now Facebook is transitioning from a service which allowed you to “like” or “recommend” things, to a service which waits to see what you actually do. It makes sense that Alister Cameron buying a book on Amazon is a more accurate indication of his interest in that book than Alister Cameron’s “liking” of that book.

The best data to collect reflects what you do, moreso than what you say you like. And so it is that Facebook is “democratizing verbs”, so that in the near future your Facebook timeline will record that you read an article, bought an event ticket, donated money, rated someone’s comment on a blog, etc.

As the guys over at Badgeville are putting it, your “behaviour graph” is in every way more important than your “interest graph”. That’s where social media reputation scoring is going.

But if we know what data we’re trying to track, we still have a fundamental problem: comprehensiveness. Badgeville is developing a fantastic product called Social Fabric. But it’s for an individual site to implement for their own user base… only. We’re back to the same problem we identified earlier. There’s no one doing the two critical elements of this: tracking what everyone actually does online, and building game mechanics around that to provide incentives, rewards, and recognition for it. And finally, no one has figured out how to do this in such a way that a given person’s specific expertise is surfaced and rewarded, based on what they’ve actually done, rather than on what they or others say about them. But that’s all coming…

These are some initial thoughts. I need to develop them a lot further, but I’m at least certain of this: that there is enormous money to be made out of the kinds of data to be collected from what you and I actually do online, and there is definitely a way to make it so that the gameplay follows you around online, pretty much wherever you go. And that you have massive fun with it!

Can you imagine that? Does what I’m describing make sense to you?


Note: Commenter website links are not no-followed, in case
you were wondering... I believe in rewarding commenters!

  1. RichieB
    Posted 10 years ago // Permalink

    Because China runs one massive proxy server, they are actually doing this via a company set-up and managed by an Aussie maths professor. His company crawls 180 million + websites to build a profile of people of interest for whomever is paying…

  2. Posted 10 years ago // Permalink

    With the huge reservation that I have not read any of your posts but this one, I would say you’re stating the obvious about ambient data as it pertains to individual persons. The difference (and reason you have so much to still think out) is that most of the work you’re imagining will earn bucks will come from the predictive analysis, something that ranges from routine (path analysis of likely eateries between workplace and home) to the sublime–what kind of car or home the individual is likely to purchase. Good luck in figuring out any one part of that puzzle. Thanks for a thought-provoking post. I’ll let you know if any breakthroughs this end. One question: Any idea of a minimum number worth analyzing? E.g. min. one million before disagregation (transactions, persons, etc.) To help with the frequency of analysis.

  3. Daniel
    Posted 9 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    it will be helpful, thanks…

  4. Darren Butt
    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    Hello i am Darren Butt

    I enjoy reading your articles

    I am looking forward to read more..

  5. Posted 9 years, 8 months ago // Permalink

    Interesting post and thanks for sharing. Some things in here I have not thought about before.Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written

  6. Rick Measham
    Posted 9 years, 8 months ago // Permalink

    My $0.03¹:

    Owning identity is the end-game right now. The “social web” will not come of age until the identity problem is solved. And whoever solves it will be the winner of the big data game.

    If [my organisation] were the indentity owner, I’d provide the trust that other services need to indentify a user as a legitimate human and that they’re a particular person.

    Amazon would subscribe and know that reviews by Alister Cameron came from you. Twitter would subscribe and know that you’re the Real Person tweeting. Google would subscribe and log all your searches and what ads you click on. That, natually, makes me the single most powerful person in the Big Data world.

    Here’s an actual situation where this matters:
    Right now, you can get a terrible experience with a removalist you found with five stars on Yelp. You’re not a regular Yelper, so your negative review will be buried with the other 18 hidden reviews here:

    This happens because Yelp’s algorithm doesn’t trust the reviewer. They don’t know the reviewer. It could just be a competitor slamming this removalist².

    Once the identity problem is solved, Yelp will “know” the person submitting the review and be able to trust the negative review. In fact, they’ll be able to get a legitimacy score from me rather than creating their own. It would take a dedicated team of people to create fake personas that could stand the test of Big Data.

    Whether we see gamification or not, we need to see the identity problem solved. Both Google and Facebook are already desperate to be the single identity provider.

    ¹ Long comment is three cents. Actual value may vary.
    ² There’s likely several things going on here including the freshness of the outraged users, plus the fact that someone in Savannah GA is reviewing a business in North Hollywood as I’m guessing Yelp doesn’t account for the fact that removalists work with non local people.

  7. Posted 9 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    I think that most of the services like Klout are overrated and don’t need to exist.

  8. Posted 9 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    I am sure you are correct on the gamification of the social web; I have to admit to not using any of them – it’s not my bag, what can I say. However, this probable analysis and ranking of persons is somewhat frightening to me; a paradora’s box, which I could perceive leading to some unfortunate results. I love the Web without a strict hierarchy; one which respects every user equally.

  9. Posted 9 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I had hear of Klout, but Empire Avenue is totally new to me.

    Nice find!

  10. Posted 9 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I’m a little surprised that gamification hasn’t yet happened in a big way on the net – Microsoft has been using a form of it with Xbox Live for years and the rest of the industry followed suit pretty soon after (Playstation Trophies, Steam achievements, etc). The web surely has as much data available as those guys, perhaps we’re a little behind because of computing power or something.

  11. Posted 9 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Gamification has it’s advantages. Services like Klout owe much of it’s growth to gamification. However gamification of the entire web would prove hard.
    As you have mentioned Klout scored can be easily gamed and doesn’t represent true authority. But as one commenter mentioned Identity will be even more important.

  12. Posted 9 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I would call it “digitizing of identity”: what you are is going to become a bunch of numeric rankings, links and pictures on the web.

    I also see that fewer people are using Facebook. I think a lot of people find digital life insatisfying and it will lead to big movement to disconnect.

  13. Posted 9 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    Some pretty interesting ideas.

  14. Posted 9 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    I don’t understand why I need Klout and Peer Index, for me twitter and facebook is enough.

  15. Posted 9 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    Every business owner wants to be the voice for his industry, whether nationally on a local level.

    Keeping up with the latest and greatest social networking platform takes ALOT of valuable time.

    It won’t be long before every business will need a dedicated social media person to do this full time if they are in a competitive niche.

    I agree that google will be the one who is best suited to capture all of the data and social signals.

    But many of these social platforms like to hide their DATA and view google+ as a competitor.

  16. Posted 9 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    There’s probably some informational benefit to Empire Avenue, but by and large it seems like a way to ascribe value to behavior that may really just be a waste of time. Reminds me of Farmville, to be honest. Should I tweet more to bump up my social networking “value”? Probably not, when there are plenty of activities that have real world value.

  17. Posted 9 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    Really interesting article.. it seems as though in order to compete in this sphere your brand personality needs to become a game player. I see more and more companies creating brand personas to act as authorities within their niche, gaining trust naturally though their extensive knowledge of their industry. It will certainly be interesting to see how it all pans out in the future. My guess is that these digitized identities will have to become a whole lot more personal and natural in order to build trust in the social web.

  18. Posted 8 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    Great post and a very interesting read.

  19. Posted 6 years, 10 months ago // Permalink

    2015 here – you were almost right! 🙂

  20. Alister Cameron
    Posted 6 years, 8 months ago // Permalink

    It was worth a try 🙂

  21. Posted 4 years, 7 months ago // Permalink

    I came back to this site (after seeing it bookmarked) – ready for more content for you, a good one would be a review of your thoughts on the gamification of social media. I hardly hear mentions of this anymore in terms of klout/EA but I do know it”s going on.

  22. Posted 3 years, 10 months ago // Permalink

    Interesting. Some of these came true too!

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Gamification Increase Productivity? November 11, 2011 by Rich Tehrani & Slideshare… 52. My prediction for 2012 and beyond: gamification of the entire social web 2012/01/04/ by alistercameron 53. Is Gamification Right for Your Business? 7 Things to Consider […]

  2. […] My prediction for 2012 and beyond: gamification of the entire social web ( […]

  3. […] guy who knows a lot about this, whom I trust more than a lot of sharks swimming around, is Alister Cameron. He writes about blogging and its power. He knows a […]

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