Whit Andrews

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Whit Andrews
VP Distinguished Analyst
14 years at Gartner
18 years IT industry

Whit Andrews is a vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. Andrews covers enterprise search and enterprise video content management.Read Full Bio

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I Come Now Not To Shout Caesar But To Digg Him

by Whit Andrews  |  May 28, 2009  |  Comments Off

The key premise of the Hostile Information Ecosystem is that mechanisms created to highlight or illuminate information for relevancy purposes that are founded on people’s good behavior are inherently vulnerable. What is vulnerable is attacked. The essential nature of seething human competition and conflict is that people will try to subvert any proper, decent system for their own benefit, at the expense of the proper, decent people who would benefit from its pristine and naive use.

Thus does Digg abandon shouting, which I read on the 10e20 blog entry about it, thanks to my old friend Jim Tobin, who is a social media consultant I keep up with via FaceBook (and to a much lesser degree, Twitter, which I find shockingly overloading — wait, I just checked — I don’t seem to be following him — OK, now I am — sigh). This is a response to bad actors we call “forgers,” as in “Forgers build false links to affect citation analysis (a.k.a. Googlebombing).” The research note I quoted that from is Introducing the Hostile Ecosystem, which we wrote in 2007. What happened to Digg users was that users who wanted recognition and a sense of being noticed (or possibly a desire to have commercial success) were essentially smashing the delicate machinery of relevancy calculation with the brute force of spam.

The 10e20 entry I linked to above is intelligently written and thought through. I would add to it that when you look at the issue of citation analysis (which is like shouting in that it uses elements of user behaviors and interests external to document contents to establish relevancy), or tagging on Web sites, or anything else vulnerable to mobs, whether right or wrong, the assumption should always be — YOU SHOULD ALWAYS ASSUME — that somebody’s acting on their own behalf, NOT YOURS. Nothing is ever trustworthy. Skepticism is a necessary value to remind yourself of frequently. That link, to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is a critical lesson. The Protocols were authored with the maliciously brilliant strategy of creating a document that APPEARS genuine. Coming on it, the naive reader assumes he has discovered a document which he can trust, not unlike The Man Who Never Was in execution. (For the record, the Protocols are hateful and despicable in the extreme.) Is it ironic those are wikipedia links? You bet your bippy.

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