This article was published on August 22, 2012

Things get heated when you mention Klout and Kred on The Next Web backchannel

Things get heated when you mention Klout and Kred on The Next Web backchannel
Martin SFP Bryant
Story by

Martin SFP Bryant


Martin SFP Bryant is the founder of UK startup newsletter PreSeed Now and technology and media consultancy Big Revolution. He was previously Martin SFP Bryant is the founder of UK startup newsletter PreSeed Now and technology and media consultancy Big Revolution. He was previously Editor-in-Chief at TNW.

The value of Klout, Kred, PeerIndex and the whole social influence measurement sector has been chewed over many times – most recently on our backchannel just now, when West Coast Editor, Drew Olanoff announced that we was planning a post explaining why he doesn’t write about the subject.

You see, Drew really isn’t keen on Klout and its ilk. Meanwhile, I agree that the algorithms of these services are pretty worthless right now, they’re the early stages of a movement that will most likely transform society for better and worse. Things briefly got pretty heated.

Here’s how it went down (also featuring TNW’s Alex WilhelmBrad McCarty and our intern Nick Summers):

Drew: Yes, I’m working on a social currency/influencer piece. I get asked by Klout/Kred why I’m not writing about them like Mashable and the rest do. Not a takedown piece of a company, just a very detailed explanation of why this whole idea is an abomination that turns people into asshats, or exposes existing asshattery.

Martin: BTW, I think we *should* covering these companies – not because we like them but because they’re interesting. It’s a space with huge potential. In 5 years’ time, the algorithms will have moved beyond their current rubbish state and be highly sophisticated tools for analyzing people and quantifying actions, decisions etc.

The idea of giving someone a job based on a Klout score now is ridiculous, but in five years time? I think it will be a common important factor (although maybe not Klout specifically).

Drew: My opinion of Klout’s current usefulness reflects on my opinion of its future usefulness. It’s dangerous, stupid, and rewards bad behavior and bad decisions can be made on important things based on garbage made-up metrics. Tweeting doesn’t mean you deserve a fucking job or not. Also, I have very high Klout and Kred scores.  My vantage point is important. It’s not ‘sour grapes’.

Alex: Hey, I have 40k tweets, I should be the CEO.

Someone tell Zee.

Nick: The concept itself could be huge. Not necessarily Klout, or what they specifically might do with their algo in the future – it could be any company going for that sort of model, but actually doing it accurately/fairly.

Martin: I agree it’s made up bullshit now, but it’s essentially a score based on someone else’s opinion of your performance against an arbitary metric – sounds like every academic qualification, or a driving license etc….

Drew: Driver’s license depends on an actual driver’s test. Meaning, do you crash into shit or not.

Martin: To an extent, but the rules of the road are made up – they could be different but still safe.

Drew: Drive in the lines.  Don’t hit people or cars.  Be careful of kids going to school.  Seems fair to me.

Credit scores are based on actual things you do. Good and bad, with money. Social currency is a farce. Choosing and picking your words and actions based on the hope you get a free phone or tshirt or job is destructive. My words, retweets, replies are NOT currency.  I am valuable, not my profiles on the web. Klout and Kred are the beginning of a demonstrative dehuminization of the entire Internet.

Brad: Can I just say how much fun it’s been to read this thread? Please turn this into a post.

Drew: Dude, that’s how it started. With the fact I’m writing a post.  Then it turned into a ‘we should cover them’, like we’ve gone down the avenue what…17 times? Hire someone who likes the idea FFS :)

Martin: Half tempted to say we should just turn this actual thread into a post, but probably better to do it as two posts arguing for/against.

Alex: Oh man – do the thread. I’ll give you 5 quid.

Drew: Do the thread. seriously.

Alex: Including us telling you to do the thread – hello world!

Martin: Putting this thread together into a post.

So, are social influence services the beginning of the End Times or are they the start of a bold new chapter of society where well-thought-out analysis of our behaviour meaningfully analyses our suitability for future jobs and other opportunities with an acceptable degree of accuracy?

Please, continue the debate in the comments.

Image credit: Ben Watts

Get the TNW newsletter

Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.