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Fame: the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Twitter tool

With everyone looking for ways to grow their Twitter following, many will have fun playing the new Fame game without understanding that it is temporary and not at all intuitive to get out of.

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Fame: a viral Twitter game invoking the name of Lady Gaga

Fame is designed by New Yorker Adam Ludwin as a side project to give random users a gigantic follower count once a day. Users to to the Fame site, give it permission to access their Twitter account which enters them into a raffle with everyone else who connect, and daily, a random winner is chosen. The winner is automatically followed for the day by everyone who has entered the raffle.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Ludwin has actually spoken with Twitter about the project and had their blessing, especially given that Twitter’s API allows developers to add or remove followers from a user’s account, making the temporary mass following possible.

The tool/game/service is free and the company says they have no plans to monetize the site and through the API, they simply follow and unfollow the daily winner on your behalf, and as the site grows in number, they seek to be as big as or bigger than Lady Gaga, giving each daily winner a taste of the glory, as daily winners have a Fame logo on their avatar for the day to set them apart from others.

The game is just like a good ol’ fashioned raffle where you get one entry, but in the case of Fame, you earn more entries by inviting friends to join Fame. Anyone can unfollow the current winner if they dislike them, or manually follow them after their 24 hours are up if the winner is interesting.

The good news

It is hard to criticize a free, fun game that is simply built as someone’s side project, so we’ll start off by noting that this looks fun. Honestly. Imagine potentially having millions of followers for a day – what would you say? My personal Twitter stream would either terrify or bore the average American as I tweet mostly about very specific economic indicators, Ben Bernanke speeches, kittens and unicorns.

Wouldn’t that be fun? And if someone liked my tweets and remembered to go back and follow me the next day after my temporary fame was stripped away, the ecosystem is stroked and new connections are made. Sounds like a win, no?

Why it is terrible, horrible, no good and very bad

First and foremost, unorganic connections no matter how temporary are bogus. In the early days of Twitter, before they knew what they were doing, a simple script would allow users to follow thousands of others based on simple parameters such as words in their profile like “follow back,” thus gaming the system. While Fame is not gaming the system in a permanent way, this really feels like a wet T-shirt contest… a girl gets on stage with a bunch of other girls, bounces around, then the next morning, no one remembers who she is or that she even had a name.

Secondly, any service of any kind that incentivizes people to flood my already overflowing direct message box on Twitter with invitations to join them, it makes me think of FarmVille and I want to hulk out. This part is not Fame’s fault, they’re just trying to spread the word, but trust me, it’s going to get very, very old, very quickly – I predict people will be annoyed before the system hits half a million people.

Thirdly, their FAQ is very clear in that “if the winner is a spammer or bot, we draw again. Only real humans can win FAME!” But what happens when the winner becomes a spammer as soon as they win? Check out the most recent winner below and tell me if you see spam:

While the person above is a radio DJ and is expected to be somewhat spammy, imagine giving the mic to most teenagers on Twitter (like this kid, found with only 5 seconds of searching for an example on Twitter). Fame says, “If you Tweet anything harmful or abusive we will revoke your win. Examples of harmful or abusive Tweets include links to malicious software, pornography, or hate sites. If you abuse or troll FAME players in any way, we will ban you from playing. We have sole discretion to determine what is harmful or abusive.” This should prove to be a challenge – have you ever given a drunk the mic at a bar? It’s never, ever, ever pretty – nor is an excited college kid with a loud Twitter mic.

Fourth, most people that sign up will not read the permissions, understand the game, or know that to stop playing, they have to contact the company by email. The system is beautifully designed to rope in the cattle, gate them and know that they won’t intuitively understand how to get out. Brilliant, yet kind of inadvertently evil genius (which is actually a compliment, not a real criticism).

Lastly, a daily winner is unlikely to stand out in anyone’s stream that is following more than 20 people. I often hear, “you didn’t see me tweet about my baby taking her first steps?” with that hurt puppy look in their eyes, to which I always say “I follow thousands of people and only log on intermittently throughout the day, I can’t possibly read everything everyone says, it’s not personal.” It sounds mean, but it’s true and I’m in the majority.

It’s all good fun

All of the criticism aside, it looks like a fun game, but for our readers that are professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs and c-suite level, skip the Fame and build your own, lest you join the ranks of the teen Twitterati. Ludwin’s concept is fun and we know that it will explode in the coming weeks, but for professionals looking to grow their Twitter following, this isn’t on the list of things to do.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Tinu

    March 28, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Like you, I get how the game could be fun. But this just makes me think: dear. Lord. NO. Well at least people now have a review discussing the ins and outs of the game. Of course they forgot to tell everyone that being Internet Famous is Exactly like not being famous at all, only with all the annoying disadvantages that come with it…

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Social Media

Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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facebook portal

Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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Facebook beta features fresh friendly facade you can try out

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is trying to change it’s image, literally. They already changed their logo, now is time for a new design you can see in the beta.

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facebook beta

After sixteen years in the game, Facebook is getting a facelift. Facebook has been working on a redesign for quite some time and they’re finally starting to roll out a beta. Facebook is taking the rollout slow, so it looks like just a few users are seeing the redesign and the rest of us will have to wait. Want to be among the first to test out the new look? Here’s how you can, maybe, make it happen.

If you are one of the lucky few who has been selected to beta test, then getting the new design should be simple. When you log into your account (as if you ever log out) a pop up will prompt you to try out the new beta. If this doesn’t happen, and you’re still feeling optimistic, then turn your eye to the upper right-hand corner of your screen and look for a button labeled “See Facebook Beta.” Still no button, but want to keep the hope alive? Click the drop-down arrow in the right-hand corner of your screen and see if the Facebook Beta option appears in the dropdown. Nothing yet? Tough luck, kid. You have not been chosen.

If the new design is available to you, then Facebook will offer to give you a tour of the new system. The fresh UI aims to simplify the user experience by making the page less cluttered and easier to navigate. Icons will be sleeker and brighter and it should be easier than ever to access your Messenger conversations. And if you decide that you kind of hate the new design, no big deal. Users will have the option to switch back to the classic design, at least while the redesign is still in beta.

Platform redesigns are always a contentious topic of conversation for users. Twitter, in particular, has seen some user drama over its redesigns through the years. Sometimes a redesign will knock out your favorite feature or make a shortcut you used to take in a workflow pointless. And, honestly, sometimes people just don’t like change. Whatever side of the coin you’re on, let us know how you feel about Facebook’s new look.

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Google takes a shot at competing with TikTok, Pinterest videos

(SOCIAL MEDIA) We all love to sit and watch short videos, be they humorous, reactionary, or weird, but here is Googles attempt to get educational with Tangi.

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Tangi screenshot

It’s happened to anyone who’s ever been looking online for how-to help… you click on a likely-sounding YouTube video, only to be greeted by an ad you can’t skip, a whole lot of introductory chit-chat, and three minutes of build-up before you finally see exactly what you need to do to handle your would-be DIY hack.

But what if you could get your answer in 60 seconds or less? It’s the concept behind Tangi, a newly released Google app created in the company’s Area 120 incubator by developer Coco Mao.

Variously described as short-form YouTube, video Pinterest, or TikTok for makers, Tangi was inspired by Mao discovering that her “smartphone challenged” parents were using their devices to watch photography and painting tutorials—and developing new hobbies as a result.

She came back to Google and worked with her team to develop Tangi as a place where such how-to inspiration could be more easily found and taken advantage of. “The name is inspired by the words TeAch aNd Give,” she explained as she introduced the app at the end of January. “’Tangible’—things you can make.”

The philosophy behind Tangi means this is hands-on how-to for the crafty club. The time-lapse heavy videos “could quickly get a point across,” Mao said, “something that used to take a long time to learn with just text and images.”

Videos fall into categories of art, cooking, DIY, fashion and beauty, and lifestyle, and are often accompanied by links to recipes or the maker’s blog or Instagram for more information. Some makers don’t quite have the format down pat yet, but most manage to provide a good balance of visual inspiration and a little more information.

And like Pinterest, Tangi can turn into a time-lapsing rabbit hole of its own. I started with a mere 10-second clip on propagating succulents (I’ve been doing it wrong), which led to a minute on “when succulents stretch” (“etiolation” — new vocabulary word!), which led to a succulent cake which led to a conversation heart cake and before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by and I was watching an exploding heart science Valentine and had washed up at “Yoda one for me.”

While the app has only been out for about a week … and is only available on iOS and the web … it’s already well populated with content from makers and lifestyle bloggers who partnered with Mao’s team during the development process. And though it’s still in closed-beta mode for content creators, users can apply to be on a waitlist to be invited to upload their own work.

There are a few question marks still. No word on when it will be available on Google’s own Android platform, for one thing. While a couple of intrepid contributors are reviewing education apps and dispensing startup advice, its philosophy as stated by team lead Mao may not extend much more beyond the maker and creative fields to include technology and workplace input. And Google doesn’t always support its apps for long.

But it’s fun, simple, and easy on the eyes. As a place to find quick inspiration and direction, Tangi could carve out a niche.

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