Friday, April 25, 2014

The Face(book) of progress

Who dreams up these nonsensical questionnaires?

What rock band are you? What era should you have been born in? How English are you? What flower are you? What is your spirit bird? What sort of wine are you? What superhero should you be? Are you a proper snob? What flavor of jam are you? To find out, one is presented with some quaint choice questions with pictures and - ta-da! You're very 60s, you have an owl, you're Batman, you're tart quince...

You are a Facebook lemming! We all are. I fall for this brain fluff, too.

This current epidemic of question content is part of the Buzzfeed market grab, social media marketing. It is the current thing.

It arrives in our Facebook faces beside conventional news sources which now, instead of factual breaking news headlines, offer:

Amazing video of what Russians are doing in the Ukraine

11 faults politicians would like to have

Who went faster? The cops or the robbers?

15 ways not to use energy

Tony Abbott upset the palace. What did he do?

500 ways celebrity cult gossip dominates the news

A $5m credit card bill. Why?

10 things that will make you laugh.

Best-ever recipe for boiled egg. Etc etc.

All this is the result of a lot of desperate enterprises to grab a market in new media. All of them are under the impression that the social media target market is pretty damned dumb and can only be lured to information if the information is promised in the form of trivia.

And so we discover our information revolution is upon us as a tidal wave of infotainment tid-bits.

Let's not forget cat videos. They have been beloved since the Internet was a kitten. They're a running joke, very funny and good for the soul. So, the social media information purveyors have grabbed them like a fist full of dollars and re-presented them to the world as their very own viral phenomenon and a magnet to their ad-laden sites.

They stop at nothing.

And they have a marketplace of wide-eyed and willing players who are having too much fun to notice the cynical game afoot which promises to turn our computers into a spamland of endless sales, promotion and greed.

And to think that, just a couple of decades ago, when the Internet was being explored by the scientists, academics and geeks, the excitement flowed from the idea that it could be the great free sharing of knowledge. It was for a while. Until the men in suits found it.