This social media stock market game is building a real-world “value score” about you

I’ve been playing Empire Avenue for a few weeks now and I’ve found it a really compelling game for a number of social reasons. First, what is it? It’s a stock market game where you can buy or sell your friends, or other people in the social media world. You can buy or sell me at http://www.empireavenue.com/scbl for instance.

Pricing is affected by the value you’re putting into social systems. The guy behind it, Duleepa “Dups” Wijayawardhana, is here and we spend an hour talking about the game and what it really is about.

Why is it compelling?

Well, because I’m a narcissistic egotistical butthead. Of course. ;-)

But look further than that.

Three nights ago I went through the 550 YouTube accounts I was subscribed to. I ended up deleting more than 300 of those accounts. Why? Because they were providing no value. Most of those accounts I deleted hadn’t been updated in more than a year. Others only had really lame videos of their cat. Pretty low-value stuff to me. Maybe you’d like that, but I generally find TED Talks more interesting than cat videos.

By doing that my inbound video feed all of a sudden became dramatically better. Why? Because I was following people who were providing real value.

Can we share with each other the folks who are providing that real value? That’s the question that Empire Avenue is trying to solve and I’ve found it does it better than other social media systems, like Klout or Peer Index, that mostly measure how many followers and how many retweets you’re getting.

Everyone in San Francisco knows that Twitter and Facebook are building such scores about you, but they don’t share that with their users. Also, those systems aren’t going to study your reputation on their competitors or on places like YouTube and they can’t really roll in real-world reputation/authority/influence. Empire Ave can.

And that’s what makes it compelling and why I spent an hour with the CEO.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

20 thoughts on “This social media stock market game is building a real-world “value score” about you

  1. I have been invited but I am concerned with the following things. People get points for signing others up, which has a bit of an MLM feel to it – and that would become a time sink. Real currency will be coming into play. The tweets saying ‘invest in me, I’m a bargain’ are less than appealing. Also, up to now I have managed to avoid on-line ‘games’ (having seen addiction close-up working in a tech office when it all started) in preference of other ways I want to use my brain power and my time.

  2. Sorry to spoil your fun, guys, but as a woman I find Empire Avenue offensive. I am not a common whore to be bought and sold–pimped by some company I never heard of, never signed up with, but that has nevertheless listed my Twitter account and assigned me a “price.”

    1. Wow. You aren’t being bought and sold by “a company.” You are being bought and sold “by us.” In other words, your audience. Maybe if you have this kind of view you should avoid being online, because we’re buying and selling you every day of the week by following or not following you or by retweeting or sharing what you say. By the way, other systems keep reputation scores, like Klout and PeerIndex. At least this one we can have some influence on by buying and selling you.

      1. Slaves were bought and sold by individuals, too. Men pay for prostitutes. It’s not just a “score” like Klout and PeerIndex–or like my math grade or a batting average–it’s putting a dollar value on my personal (not business) Twitter identity.

        I enjoy the approval that comes with a connection on LinkedIn, a follower on Twitter, or a comment on my blog. They are personal engagements, not a financial transaction. Some are no more than chit-chat over the virtual back fence, but I’ve also had wonderful conversations that ranged across multiple social media. SOCIAL media. (Oh, and your Freudian slip is showing. In your last sentence you said “buying and selling you.” My parents did not raise me to be that kind of girl.)

        I will say one nice thing about Empire Avenue: When I e-mailed them yesterday and asked them to remove me from their site, they did so promptly.

  3. Interesting post, although I think the last thing that social services need is another vanity incentive. If you look at the real pillars of social content, like Wikipedia, their greatest strength and key to longevity has been to create communities that have a higher purpose than personal vanity.

    1. Agreed! :) Ultimately, a major strength of the platform (no, no, I’m not biased at all!) is the fact that we do encourage communities of like-minded individuals connect with each other, and in practice it’s worked pretty well — and not from a vanity perspective. Sure, we have work left to do on that front, but you’re able to join location-based communities, interest communities and even create your own communities, sharing content relevant to those areas and meeting other people who may or may not be relevant to you — but we give you access to the tools and data that will help you decide. Check out someone’s Twitter feed, YouTube, Flickr, etc. and it’s quite easy to see who’s creating content and where, and where they’re most engaged.

      Twitter’s a great place to connect with people, but someone may be a minor player on Twitter but may have a huge YouTube presence — you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at their Twitter account. We want you to embrace your own personal brand — which isn’t just Twitter or Facebook or YouTube or your blog… it’s a combination of everything you’re doing online.

      1. Being able to access a wider social graph to find better content is definitely a great utility. I think the danger is ultimately in user behavior. I’ve found that most high output social media types aren’t as interested in discovering new content than they are in widening their network (I’m not going to mention any names). I doubt Klout would say that their goal is to provide a false status metric to an insulated group of self-promotional social media broadcasters but it’s the kind of behavior that the service reinforces. I think what you’re doing is much more compelling, hopefully it will attract the right kind of community.

        1. We hope so, too :). The general idea is that, well, as more and more people join and start using the site, market mechanics ultimately take over. Don’t like someone spamming or using the site in a crappy way? Sell! It’s our way of getting trust/reputation into the network-value equation. You can’t do that with… uhh… “influence” :)

        2. One of the things to consider about #EAv is approaching it as a measurement tool with the added game aspect. The very nature of buying shares in someone is a social connection and decision making process. You can buy random or search specific to your industry tags. Once you connect, you now have a profile to review for their content and see if its of value on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn. If you are not a a tremendous information curator, thats fine. Your value will show what level of activity on social media gains the most engagement which includes your activity and response to that from comments on your blog(s), photos or Facebook comments and Twitter mentions/retweets.

          There are plenty of people that use social media platforms as the shout box and never really engage, as you alluded to here, however, if they happen to be on Empire Avenue then ironically their stock may be a good “investment” and add wealth to your virtual portfolio.

          Review of the statistics break downs with pie charts for your share price and social media sites reflected by daily online behavior is priceless. Of course EA could use some tweaks as does any analytic tool. But its fun at minimum to meet new people, read information you may not have been exposed to otherwise, add fans and followers to your own sites.

          Hope that helps in addition to Tom’s responses.

          - (e)NAKEVA

        3. One of the things to consider about #EAv is approaching it as a measurement tool with the added game aspect. The very nature of buying shares in someone is a social connection and decision making process. You can buy random or search specific to your industry tags. Once you connect, you now have a profile to review for their content and see if its of value on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn. If you are not a a tremendous information curator, thats fine. Your value will show what level of activity on social media gains the most engagement which includes your activity and response to that from comments on your blog(s), photos or Facebook comments and Twitter mentions/retweets.

          There are plenty of people that use social media platforms as the shout box and never really engage, as you alluded to here, however, if they happen to be on Empire Avenue then ironically their stock may be a good “investment” and add wealth to your virtual portfolio.

          Review of the statistics break downs with pie charts for your share price and social media sites reflected by daily online behavior is priceless. Of course EA could use some tweaks as does any analytic tool. But its fun at minimum to meet new people, read information you may not have been exposed to otherwise, add fans and followers to your own sites.

          Hope that helps in addition to Tom’s responses.

          - (e)NAKEVA

  4. should the “stock value” for social media/content publishing people be tied to the time people spend consuming their content? ultimately, time is the only true resource a human being has, right?

    1. I have to agree on the time factor. Since engaging on #EAv I see you increase your value from daily activity on the connected social sites. If you are on a blog and you share it to Twitter and Facebook, it counts towards your Twitter and Facebook stats which plays a role in the share value. So with that example, you are being “paid” for consuming content because you shared it and took social action.

      - (e)NAKEVA

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