How To Whore Yourself on the Interwebs a.k.a. Internet Famo.us

Bling

I have never had the opportunity to take a class like this — let alone even fathom similar course offerings. Right now, Parsons Department of Design and Technology is running a mind-blowing class by the name of, “Internet Famo.us.” Taught by Evan Roth, James Powderly, and Jamie Wilkinson (Evan and James of GRL Fame, Jamie of General Techno-Supremacy/Rocketboom), Internet Famo.us is filled with LOLcatz, animated gifs, youtube videos, and the dark matter that fills out the bowels of the internet.

Here is the basic idea: Internet Famo.us is a class on personal web marketing or less elegantly how to prostitute yourself for internet fame. The class focuses on trends on the web. What is the hottest youtube video this week (Ridiculously hot LATINA girl dancing, not asian! (ORIGINAL)? What has been prominent on Boing Boing’s front page (several image based posts about signs)? It also takes a look at analytics, social networking, and the art of getting traffic. Students in the class are schooled on the tenets of a successful web life. As per the course these tenets are: sincerity, web judo, open source/diy, the shotgun approach, rip from the headlines, know your audience, use da tools, nerds love pranks, abuse all networks, language games, and crowd sourcing.

While this approach alone would make an interesting class, the key is in the grading. What makes Internet Famo.us so cool and so ground breaking is that the grades are totally and utterly non-subjective, in fact they are entirely based on algorithms. The key is “Scrapeotron.” This open-source software, at the heart of a more general internet famo.us application, was created specifically for the class, but may have a larger influence on the web if it becomes pervasive. Scrapeotron gathers data from social networks, blogs, and other recesses of the web to compute a Famo score. This score is something comparable to a google pagerank, but for a single finite human being. For class purposes this creates an interesting predicament as (this was my understanding) grades are based on the Famo score relative to the other students. Working with Evan, James, and Jamie this summer (I interned at the GRL), we could barely imagine the type of work a cold, heartless grading system like this might create. Would women have an immediate advantage because of sex appeal? Would stupid videos that got hits beat out more thoughtful content? How cutthroat could it get? I am excited to see how the students react to the system.

Applied more broadly, Famo has incredible implications. Numbers and ratings seem to be incredibly popular ways to gauge rank in society. Sports fans love team rankings. 360 players love gamer scores and achievement points. While each of these examples is popular, neither has the potential that Famo does. From a business standpoint alone, Famo could change interviewing and applications forever (ex. please no one apply if your Famo score is below xx). Socially, Famo gives people a concrete way to express their web presence/e-penis. Imagine the bragging rights of having a Famo score that is greater than say a Beyonce/Johnny Depp/Michael Jackson/[insert other big name celebrity here]. It would be a big deal. This technology is not out in the open or ready for full public use — yet– but it is obvious that an application like this has the potential to explode.

It will be incredibly interesting to see how the class proceeds. From the perspective of a fledgling blogger I hope I can watch and learn with the class, promoting myself as well. I’m even more eager to see how Famo will fare on a greater scale, if it ever reaches the wild.

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[Below is an example of some of the work Internet Famo.us keeps an eye on — Playing on the “Don’t taze me bro” meme, this clip has grabbed 648k Views]

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