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Toward Twitter Authority and a large confederation of dunces

The lunacy of the interwebs continues…

The popularity of Twitter has become a focus of concern of this week’s digerati. Loic Le Meur is calling for filtering based on authority, which has no relation to truth, justice, or any measurement other than popularity by way of number of followers. If the idea of followers doesn’t creep you out, consider Jim Jones and his followers.

This from a guy who as Charlie O’Donnell writes:

So, mark this date down. December 27, 2008 is the day that the digerati jumped the shark–the day that a guy who raised $12 million for a video blog commenting platform with no revenues or any idea of what the business model would be told the world that he only wants to listen to Twitter users with a lot of followers.
Source: Charlie O’Donnell

The ouroborus elegance of this proclamation is manifested in calling for a TechMeme filtering approach to accomplish this. And as an added bonus is the cavalcade of semi and former bloggers that are swallowing this lunacy contains all of the usual suspects and the Web 2.0 Social Media wannabes confirming that following each other is a dark warm moist place with hundreds of folks packed firmly up your ass, breathlessly waiting for the next 140 characters of clickable truth.

Now before you begin to cry foul over electronic anal probing, consider that the top IPhone app is IFart , which is just what it sounds like. (the IPhone being the unofficial talisman of the digerati, and now being able to buy one at Wal Mart, so you too can be mistaken as one of the shiny happy people, can only help to increase penetration and authority.)
Now that we have shown the wisdom of crowds in such a interesting manner, we can say that IFart has authority. To think that an app can engender such a following, let’s take a moment to understand what you can do with Authority.

In 1963 a professor named Stanley Milgram published his infamous experiment on obedience to authority. It involved the ability to administer electric shocks to other people who answered questions wrong.

The Milgram experiment’s startling result — as anyone who has taken a college psychology course knows — was that ordinary people were willing to administer a lot of pain to innocent strangers if an authority figure instructed them to do so. More than 80 percent of participants continued after administering the 150-volt shock, and 65 percent went all the way up to 450 volts.

Long story short, given the power, folks will turn up the juice. This experiment was recently replicated with identical results.

Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University replicated the experiment and has now published his findings in American Psychologist. He made one slight change in the protocol, in deference to ethical standards developed since 1963. He stopped when a participant believed he had administered a 150-volt shock. (He also screened out people familiar with the original experiment.)

Professor Burger’s results were nearly identical to Professor Milgram’s. Seventy percent of his participants administered the 150-volt shock and had to be stopped. That is less than in the original experiment, but not enough to be significant.
Source NYT Four Decades After Milgram, We’re Still Willing to Inflict Pain

If one had a dark view of the digerati, combining Twitter, IPhone and Milgram, we can probably look for a new app called IShock. The ability to shock folks through their IPhones. Great news for Apple as the batteries are not replaceable except by Apple. Combine that with say for example the tilde ~ for the twitter universe like the hash tag, one could expand their authority. Self shocking would banned of course.

When given the power to punish, having authority, folks will crank up the dial.