Today I installed my new keyboard and so I am happy to report I am typing away happily without fumbling around, like an Australian politician trying to decide if gays should marry.
Classic comedy aside, though- I want to talk about something that’s bothering me- “Best Of” algorithms. The simple version is the most popular posts get on the top of your feed, so everyone can see it.
Facebook was the first to take part in this with its newsfeed putting the “best” posts out there. This is abhored by many, and many go out of their way to work around this- because quite frankly what the website thinks is the best and what you’re interested in often doesn’t align. Sadly, now twitter and instagram are going to be implementing a “Best Of” too.
This is a terrible, terrible idea.
The internet is a sanctuary. A place where the socially awkward could put out their comic or music or fetish art of darth vader and a gnome, and through the internet, it had a chance.It gave us a megaphone, we were for once on equal footing. We got our ideas together, put them out there, crossed our fingers, reached out to who we could and hope it got people’s attention.
Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. It’s all messages in bottles,hoping someone picks it up and reads it.
But when it did click? It was amazing. Take for example this here comic:
You knew exactly what this was, didn’t you. (If you didn’t I’m really surprised you’re reading my blog)
When The Force Awakens came out, this was the comic that made the rounds and was on EVERYBODY’S facebook pages. All the feels, etc.
Now, as you can see, the artist released this first on tumblr, which has yet to do “Best of” algorithms. It is a chronological order of post, with no favouritism given. Classic internet, essentially, and while it’s debatable how much that affected its popularity, never less the comic flourished and popped up everywhere!
Now let’s compare that to a post on my facebook page, with a meagre but respectable 462 fans, recommending the immeasurable Melbourne actor Laura Jane Turner (who you should give a look at). My post reached 9 of those fans.
Not 90. Not 19.
This is because of FB’s algorithm.
This is Diet Internet, and it tastes fucking disgusting.
To put it bluntly, facebook’s algorithm for pages of any kind AND personal profiles is at best broken and at worst, a horrible example of corporate greed.
It wasn’t, once.Facebook gave everybody the same footing. Then DietInternet popped into the market, and FB invested, hard. Soon, fans couldn’t see their beloved idols work. It was hidden. They had hidden it behind a paywall.
You have to pay to reach your fans who want to hear from you.
Think about it this way. You’re a comedian, you build a following, a dedicated audience, you get them to come to the gig, in a free venue! Awesome! They all arrive, are excited to hear from you. You’re about to hit the stage when the owner of the venue grabs your arm and says
“I’ve put your audience in seats that are soundproof unless I push this button, and I won’t unless you pay me $10”
“…Uh, okay, for like the show?”
“HAHAHA… No. For each joke you make.”
What do you do? They’re there. They want to hear you. You’re broke, but maybe you’ll recoup costs eventually? Moving them all will be such a hassle, maybe just try and make it work.
Is this unfair? Not necessarily. You chose that venue after all. Is it however, pretty goddamn despicable? You bet.
And now, instagram and twitter are following facebook’s lead. Having popular people continue to be popular making their popular post super popular, while those who could really use the soapbox to take off will struggle.
Sadly, I don’t think it’ll stop at “Best Of”.
Next, you’ll see a paywall.
Then you’ll be encourage to pay.
Then you’ll be penalized not to pay.
Then you’ll cough up when you have to, to sell that comedy or like the Star Wars comic above. You will pay, because you have nowhere else to put your stuff.
To put it honestly? I have no solutions.
Once upon a time, if you put something out there, it had a chance. It had as much of a chance as anybody- because the internet gave us all the same megaphone. In our world today connection is so much easier. Putting your work out there and finding your audience is a steady workload of promotion away.
Now it’s about being popular, or coughing up the cash.
That should not be enough. Work should not go under the radar just because they don’t have the funds to reach an audience, especially an audience that has already come to see them at the venue.
But, sadly, that’s the direction social media is going down.
This is utterly despicable and ultimately out of our control. We are getting a free service, and we have no choice but to swallow the bitter pills they give us, or move on.
The internet is becoming less and less equal.
And now I’m sad.