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EmpireAvenue: All Heat And No Light?

I signed up to EmpireAvenue after hearing about it last week: a fantasy stock market fashioned on the notion that people and brands can be traded like stocks.

It’s getting a lot of play on the interwebs because — I believe — people would like this to be some sort of useful proxy for influence. Again.

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.

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