Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A Rebuke of Twifficiency

Unless you've been asleep under a stone for the past 48 hours you couldn't have failed to notice the Twitter phenomenon that is Twifficiency. Created by James Cunningham it generated an efficiency score based on your Twitter usage. In order to access the service, though, you had to grant the application access to your Twitter account.

Unwittingly, or not, James had violated one of Twitter's codes of practice re: abuse of privileged access to accounts. Specifically, the application automatically tweeted a message from the user's account in the format:

My Twifficiency score is x%. What's yours?

Generally, this annoyed people but, because of its viral nature, the term "Twifficiency" started trending worldwide.

Now, can we please get some perspective on this?

Yes, it trended. Yes, it spread like wildfire. Yes, everyone's talking about it; but so what? This is the Twitter version of "Britain's Got Talented X-Factor for me Nan". It was hugely popular but, ultimately, worthless. Shouldn't we be discouraging this kind of sensationalism and, instead, be encouraging the trending of remarkable products (to quote Seth Godin). The mere fact that it trended says nothing about its worth - because it trended itself automatically, virally. This is the complete opposite of something that trends because users want to tell their friends about it. In fact self-promotion obfuscates this valuable measure.

James is, undoubtedly, a very nice chap who was just experimenting with an idea, but for some people to be considering offering him a job! Seriously, no. Stop.

Tech Crunch hits the nail on the head in their blog post and I would like to add to that by pointing out that Stephen Fry only scored 3%!!!

Now, if James had created the site with an opt-in option for re-tweeting (as opposed to its new opt-out option) and it had still trended; then, wow! That would have been a truly remarkable feat. The fact is, though, that you've removed any meaningful way of measuring your success.

I have no doubt that James will go on to great things but, I'm afraid, I think he should be infamous, not famous, for Twifficiency.

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