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Remember Empire Avenue?

Back in the first half of the year I wrote some fairly disparaging comments about Empire Avenue, which is a social network modeled like a stock market so that all users’ reputaiton or popularity is indicated by a stock price. 

I thought this was sort of dumb:

Jeremiah Owyang does a serious writeup, implicitly advocating that brands should get involved, but I think he’s way too premature with this plaything. David Armano takes a more playful and questioning viewpoint, and suggests it’s ‘more fun in many regards than Facebook’.

But I don’t think it is. It will be a useful proxy for popularity, which is only loosely linked with influence. And meanwhile, eye candy like Empire Avenue will lead people to once again reinforce the wrongheaded blurring of popularity and influence.

Here’s what I wrote at Quora when asked if Empire Avenue is a fad:

Like most systems based on gaming, it will turn out to be a fad, unless there are complex strategic elements of the game (like chess, go, bridge, or WoW). A stock market based on some derivative of popularity is what we hoped to leave behind when we graduated high school. At least most of us.

Just for laughs — and partly because the trolls really came after me for that post and a follow-on — I took a look at Empire Ave’s stats:

I compared Empire Avenue to Klout, and it is certainly not on a par with that service, which is another way to look at people’s online reputation, at least as related to Twitter and other services. More importantly, EA page views have fallen by over 40% in the past six months. So, no matter what all the fans said back in the spring, Empire Avenue is not catching on as a new and hip social experience. It’s just another hunk of junk that didn’t catch on, and probably headed for the trash heap in short order.

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