Epilogue

5 days after the Technorati experiment began, I see that The Contortionist’s Handook is still bouncing around on the Technorati products list. It’s been entirely off at times, but I just checked and it was back on. I’m thinking this has more to do with the other books than TCH, as the coordinated mentions relax and things expire out of the Technorati list. What I think is very funny is that the book above it right now is The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference. That’s all this ever was, about getting the book over e tipping point.

I agree with what I’ve heard in my real life and on the comments. I was entirely too deferential to Taran with his criticisms. Not only do I not think I did anything wrong, I’m quite proud of the whole thing. In his comments on his post critical of this undertaking he says:

… here’s what I’ll toss back at everyone. Integrity. Something like Journalistic Integrity. We have weblogs, and bloggers get slammed a lot. We don’t make our case better by publicly stating we are subverting systems for our own benefit – the same systems we are accused, constantly, of subverting.

I think I and all the participants behaved with the utmost integrity. No one lied about what we were doing, those who had read the book said so, those who hadn’t said so, we all uniformly candid that the goal was to alter the book’s standing on that list. Like I said in the original post, my model for this was Bruce Schneier’s coordination of his Crypto-Gram readers to pop Beyond Fear (I was wrong in the original post where I said he did this for Secrets and Lies) to #1 the Amazon best seller lists. In fact, this kind of thing far predates blogging. Sending underlings out to retail bookstores to buy copies of a book to force it up lists of bestsellers has been used in the real world for a very long time. I have no first hand knowledge of such, but I’ve heard tell of bookstores getting boxes of books related to a certain science fictional religion/cult with theirs and other stores price stickers already on them inside the cartons.

He also seems to thing the blogosphere “has an integrity”, which is not something I believe. Saying that this hurt the integrity of the blogosphere makes no more sense to me than saying something “hurt the integrity of fax machines” or “hurt the integrity of the cell phone network.” I choose not to join in the school of thought that ascribes mystical powers to blogs. They are one way to communicate with others, but really and truly aren’t that much different than the posts I use to make to GEnie or Compuserve or Delphi or Sff.net or Dueling Modems. To treat blogs as some seperate thing that must be kept pure and sacrosanct is silly. I see it less like a communion wafer and more like a flare gun, and in this case a few us us fired it at once.
p

Taran thinks that manipulating the list by coordinating our mentions is wrong. He says:

Whatever happened to something standing on it’s own merit? If it’s good, people will talk about it. But if bloggers haven’t read it and post about it, they prove just how assinine they can be.

His idealism is nice, but it isn’t how the world works. It would be nice if the mayor just got all the good ideas on their own merit, but in reality it’s a lot more effective to get lots of voices together and march on city hall. I read in that statement the words of someone that hasn’t worked in publishing, where works of high merit can frequently sell poorly while some of the lousiest low common denominator dreck sits upon the bestseller lists for months and years.
He also misses the point big time in that 1) he doesn’t realize that almost all of us had read the book and 2) this is a mechanism of the books standing on its own merit. If it weren’t for the enthusiasm we all have for this novel, when I asked strangers to blog about it they’d have told me to jump in a lake. This manipulation is within tightly bound limits and it wouldn’t have worked on a book a lot of people thought sucked. The coordination was the thing, but that fact that the book is so good that we all have loyalty to it and the desire to see it read by others is what drove this engine. As of this speaking, a copy of the book is being passed around my workplace and is in the hands its third reader now (with others on the waiting list.)

And now, on to more important things!