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(two people watching a mushroom cloud) This is probably our very last chance to check our Klout scores.

You’re now the most influential person in the world. Briefly.

You’re now the most influential person in the world. Briefly. published on No Comments on You’re now the most influential person in the world. Briefly.

I was a baby in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, a young child when Nixon floated Madman Theory, a high school student when I first learned just how many nuclear weapons there were in the world, and a university student when Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative threatened to destabilize the nuclear balance… and my first full-time job was with a pro-disarmament NGO.

Funny that I don’t often think about the threat of global nuclear war as a formative influence in my life. (Maybe kids today will be a little more self-aware, and able to see how the prospect of catastrophic climate change shaped their lives.) But there’s no question it was.

One happy side effect is that it means I find end-of-the-world scenarios intriguing, and that led me to read The Last Policeman trilogy. (That wording looks weird, but less so than “the The Last Policeman trilogy.”) Humanity discovers the Earth is about to get shmucked by a comet, and the three novels trace the six months before impact, as seen through the eyes of a police detective who insists on solving crimes even though, dude, comet.

It’s terrific, and if you like really good procedurals plus a dose of impending doom, wow, is this the series for you.

And while it isn’t apocalyptic, I’m excited as hell for October 6 and the release of Ancillary Mercy, the final novel in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy. This is wildly inventive stuff that raises some fascinating questions about identity and what it means to be alive… when it isn’t diving into nerve-gnawing suspense and gripping action, with a protagonist unlike any I’ve ever encountered.

If I had time to read just one last book before the world ended (and couldn’t spend the time with Alex and the kids because, I don’t know, I was in another city, and all the planes were grounded and communications were down — try not to overthink this, Rob), this would be the one.

Got some recommendations of your own? Just published a haunting trilogy set in the waning hours of civilization’s twilight? Plug away in the comments.

(one woman to a friend) - Wait: are you saying Secret is doing NOTHING for my Klout score?

Odd that I can’t find any guides to building your personal brand on Secret.

Odd that I can’t find any guides to building your personal brand on Secret. published on No Comments on Odd that I can’t find any guides to building your personal brand on Secret.

I’ve tried Secret, the mobile app that lets you anonymously post about polyamory.

No, wait, that’s not fair. Secrets lets you posts secrets about anything: how much you hate San Francisco, how real and down-to-earth you still are even though you cashed out big-time in that last Google acquisition, or polyamory (and specifically, how you’re engaging in it right now). In theory, you can post about anything else, too, but let’s be real.

The near-complete anonymity ought to mean you see less attention-getting clickbait, but I was seeing a lot of “Swipe right if you agree with this statement that you’d have to be an inhuman monster to disagree with.” People, there’s no need to recreate Facebook. For that matter, any time I posted something, I obsessively checked the stats to see if anyone had liked it. It’s possible I just can’t handle anything with metrics.

By the way, after thinking of this cartoon, I saw a similar joke at least once on Secret. While we thought of it independently, I’d normally give that author a respectful nod here… but I can’t. (Why not? See the first line, 10th word.)

Which may mean Secret’s greatest utility is as a trawling ground for comedians and cartoonists: “What, you already saw that joke on Secret? That was me, dude.”

I’m just a 34 dressed up as a 68

I’m just a 34 dressed up as a 68 published on No Comments on I’m just a 34 dressed up as a 68

Klout is an intriguing service, one that aims to measure your influence on Twitter (and now on Facebook). It’s admittedly far from perfect; “I can get people to retweet things” is pretty minor influence compared to “I can get people to consider certain ideas” or “I can sway people’s voting habits”. But until the Twitter API is hooked up to some of the machinery from Inception – or unless you’re willing to pay for some far more intensive and probably more manual analysis – we work with what we have.

And if you take “influence” to mean “reach of voice” or “ability to direct others’ attention at least for a moment”, then Klout (and cousins like Twinfluence, Twitalyzer, Tweetlevel and my very own Influ-a-rama-matic – what it lacks in reliability it makes up for in ego-boosting) can be pretty useful. Just remember it’s a starting point… and that the raw Klout score is a pretty blunt instrument. (“How influential are you?” “64.”) Diving in and looking at some of the more detailed metrics can take you further, and tell you, for instance, that person x has a lot of followers but doesn’t often engage them, while person y has a smaller audience but much more vigorous engagement.

Even then, though, you’ll need to figure out for yourself what subjects they’re most “influential” on, and with whom. (Klout takes a stab at it with a topic summary at the bottom of each profile, and it’s not a bad starting point. Also, I had no idea that Alex was so influential about the Vancouver Canucks.)

So why, then, do I check Klout obsessively?

  1. Badges. They have badges.
  2. To make up for what happened in high school. (Yes, I know.) Dammit, people do love me, and I can quantify it.
  3. Badges and personal validation… do I really need a third reason?