The Big Issue : Edition 446
THE BIG ISSUE 22 NOV -- 05 DEC 2013 43 MEDIA PRESIDENT OBAMA is on 99. The always-reliable Justin Bieber has a solid 92. Singer- actor Zooey Deschanel has mustered a plucky 86... No, I haven't stumbled across some kind of fantasy, celebrity cricket league -- I'm mired in the website of Klout, a San Francisco- based, social networking company that measures your online infuence. After taking into account your social media presence, mainly through your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ accounts, Klout then applies a nifty algorithm to calculate a score out of 100. No one seems quite sure what the algorithm is, but I like YOU'RE SITTING IN an audience. You're watching a spectacle. Short of your chair falling through the foor, you’re 100% involved. Maybe it's theatre. Maybe it's music. Maybe it's a movie or telly or a ride or a game. It's just you and the world of the performance, and you're transported. Partaking in a performance as an audience member can be a powerful experience. Have you heard the 'King Lear on fre’ story? Maybe it’s apocryphal, but it brings home the potency of a performance, and the spell it can cast on its audience. The story goes like this: during a production of King Lear, as the drama built to a crescendo, Lear's costume swished past some lit candles on stage and a tiny fame fared up. The fame slowly crept up Lear's cape, gradually growing in size until his shoulders were engulfed, and the actor's large mane of hair was sizzling away from shoulder-length to what hairdressers call a 'number two'. TELEVISION INCIDENTAL STARS SOCIAL NETWORKING SELF WORTH Only then did an audience member leap up from the front row and tackle Lear to the ground, patting out the fre with a raincoat. Everyone else had thought it was a clever dramatic device. The performance rendered the audience not only inactive but also unable to imagine a reality other than the one being presented to them. This must be why people in the audience on Q&A (ABC) look like stunned mullets or pantomime actors. The pantomime actors are the ones who ask a question and feel they have to live up to the sincerity of the moment; to perform despite their cloaks being on fre. Nod, they think to themselves. Look furious or internally conficted or to think of them as Silicon Valley's version of the Colonel's 11 secret herbs and spices. The bottom line is: the higher your score, the more infuence you are deemed to have online. For signing on, you not only get bragging rights over lesser Klout plebs, but companies also regularly ofer perks to top-level Klouters in the hope they'll spread the word to their minions. It's easy to see how something like Klout may prosper, living as we do in the 'look at me' era of social media. However, I do fear that people are essentially buying into a scheme simply for the right to say 'mine is bigger than yours'. We're relatively new to this social media thing and already it feels like we're running on a treadmill that's going way too fast. Likes, shares, friends, followers and re-tweets are swirling something... Oh God, I wonder what people are tweeting about my hair. Incidental TV appearances don't tend to make humans seem overly clever. Take crowd shots at the cricket, for example. Humans can perform brain surgery and ping people of into space willy-nilly, but fguring out which direction to wave when you can see yourself on the monitor at the cricket is always going to make you look like you've just slipped into a new dimension and lost all basic motor skills beyond saying "Hi, Mum," and grinning like an idiot in the wrong direction. Most people who are on television, including people who are newsreaders, tend to be thinking the same thing: OH MY GOD I'M ON TV. DON'T MESS THIS UP DON'T MESS THIS UP DON'T MESS THIS UP... Chances are, you are going to mess it up. Do a handstand or something. Be your own performance and your own audience, and disappoint nobody. Except, perhaps, your mum. by Lorin Clarke (@lorinimus) "HI, MUM!" together in a tornado of self-obsession. Where will it end? I fear for the near future. Babies will be born and friends will receive the happy news in the now traditional form of a text message: "John William Smith. Born: not sure. Weight: don't know. Klout score: 63. Both parents tired but very, very proud." SodidIjointofndoutmyvery own Klout score? Well, I stared down the website like it was my opponent in an old-school western gunfght. My fngers poised over the keyboard, ready to strike. In the end, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't need an app to give me a score out of 100. My subconscious is already way too busy doing that each day. So let's just say I scored a 98. I'll let Obama beat me... this time. by Michael Chamberlin (@ChamberlinM) PHOTOGRAPH BY KEVIN DIETSCH-POOL / GETTY IMAGES PHOTOGRAPH BY HARRY HOW / GETTY IMAGES "HMMM, 99 FEELS SO GOOD."