Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Human nature is a funny thing. Sure, most of us, having been raised in the company of other humans, know what we should do in most situations: don't honk the horn at an old person crossing the street, don't take the last piece of pie without asking someone [if you're stupid enough to take it when someone is around], don't launch your sleeping older brother from a recliner by pushing in the foot board [hey, he TOLD me to make sure he got up. And I really did try to wake him by other means first!]. But, no matter how well-behaved we are, an incentive [receive reward/avoid penalty] does tend to make us behave even better.

This brings us, of course, to the new association between EntreCard and SezWho. When I was in high school [Canisius High, Buffalo, NY; Class of '75], I actually took a year of Canadian history. As is often the case in such learning, the subject was not nearly as important as the education I received from its instructor, an old Jesuit named Fr. Greer. To his credit, I believe he felt the same way. One of the aphorisms he dropped on our adolescent minds was, "History happens for two reasons; the good reason, the one we tell our grandchildren and the history books, and the real reason, which is why a human does something". Looking at most of history in that context, it's clear that many wonderful things have been done for very banal reasons. But I digress.
Whatever else people may say, the EntreCard - SezWho affiliation, in this context, is a piece of genius. Graham, in his statement, gave us the good reasons: increased socialization, elevated "conversations" between blogger and reader, a generally higher level of discourse in blogs [since readers are encouraged, through credits based on the quality of their comments, to leave at least reasonably well thought out replies]. No one can, or should, deny that these are things serious bloggers have always wanted. But I believe that the real reason for the new paradigm is to discourage EC'ers from just "dropping and running". Not that there's anything wrong with it.(In the same way, it's said that a 19th-century German leader invented the idea of sewing otherwise useless buttons on the ends of his soldiers' uniform sleeves, to prevent them from wiping their faces and dirtying their coats)
Understand, I'm not against the encouragement of comments. Sometimes it's very frustrating as a blogger to post what you believe to be the best thing you've ever written, only to find that no one seems to have given the proverbial "rat's ass" about it. Allowing other bloggers to vote on the quality of posts and comments is another stroke of brilliance; the more you involve someone in an activity, the more time and effort they will invest in it. It's just human nature.
As to the actual results of all this, I'm not really sure. My mind says that, if EC'ers are reading more blogs [to write acceptable comments], fewer cards will be dropped. Then again, if the comments are highly enough prized by other blog readers [and thus rewarded with credits], the difference may turn out to be a wash. Bloggers will have to decide if their best strategy is to "drop and run", or to write well-thought-out comments [I suspect most bloggers will fall into one or the other category]. The cynic in me wonders [and I apologize for old Mr. Skeptic] if, by slowing the card-dropping-rate, EntreCard is trying to subtly encourage the sale of EC credits [some of which, at least,, EC sells itself]. (That's the downside of human nature: all those real reasons pop up in your head as you think through the new rules. Oh, how I wish Mr. Skeptic would go away!)
A final thought: sites like SezWho [and EC, for that matter] talk about the "socialization" of their locales. I may be old-fashioned, but I still believe that the best way to socialize is to go where large groups of people gather. Introduce yourself. Sooner or later, someone isn't going to think you're unstable, and will introduce themselves back. At least here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's Summertime, people! Get out and get some air, for gosh sakes! There's more to life than the Blogosphere!

-Mike Riley

PS: Please, oh please, oh please vote for this post! I want to be at least a Four-star member by the weekend! Thank You...

1 comment:

sueblimely.com said...

The EC/SezWho relationship was the reason I am commenting here - although I must admit that I forgot all about dropping until this moment. I got tired of the dropping frenzy and did not have the time or inclination to attempt to compete with the power droppers.

I am trying the SezWho feature but mainly because I like trying everything out if I am going to report on it. Not sure I like the idea of ratings as they are too open to favoritism. I do wonder if this will put a lot off from participating in Entrecard completely.