Monday, August 6, 2007

A Rank Odor

The New York Times reports on rankings and their affect on publishers and authors. When I grow up, I want to be a published novelist, but can you imagine how much of a mind-f it must be to see your book is ranked the millionth most popular in the country? And then to check back in twenty minutes and see that you've dropped several hundred thousand spots?

Technology is now all about finding ways for us to make us paranoid about our self-worth. Whether it's counting your Google hits (denying you google yourself is so 2003), or your "friends" on facebook (do you even really know most of those people?), or obsessively poring over your blog statistics (googleanalytics = techno-crack), it's a natural extension of the timeless question: Am I loved?
Now you can find out not only are you loved, but by how many people, and about their geographic location, if more people love you now compared to four months ago, and what web browser they love you with.
Of course we know that this kind of self-obsession is a tremendous waste of time (especially for writers, who are self-obsessed enough) but the scariest part of the Times article is when the guy from Amazon talks about being a "taste maker" (barf!). Sites like Amazon and Barnes & Nobles don't even release the algorithms for their rankings, yet they control so much of the way that people attribute value (literary and otherwise) to themselves and others. Somebody ought to do something.
Ooh wait, I think I got an email...


No comments: