Civindex: trying to measure individual civic activity

Earlier this year I came across a news piece on Wired, about Klout, What Your Klout Score Really Means. The company created a score that ranks people on the internet according to their activity in Social Media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. The piece describes how people gain “points” on their Klout score, according to number of tweets, products promotion, etc. Basically, Klout is a market oriented tool, that will use and stimulate people’s activity on social media to promote products. A person with a high Klout score will be offered shopping coupons, promotions, access to concerts etc. What intrigued me was that Klout is extremely market oriented and doesn’t really analyse the quality of the person’s activity on the web. It also ranks Justin Bieber with a perfect Klout score.

As it turns out, I opted out of Klout.

Then, I started to think about an alternative tool, which could rank the civic quality of a person’s Internet activity. Basically the way I see it, it would be based on an algorithm that would analyse words, expressions, action verbs and connections to people with high social activity in society, to create a social rank. In this way, it would specifically give a better rank to people who are discussing social or environmental issues, for example.

To start, it could use the same strategy as Klout: apply the algorithm to the universe of the twiiter accounts and create an initial rank. Then publicize it and ask people to share their facebook and linkedin info to be able to improve the quality of their ranking.

For the scope of the civic media class, I want to develop the basic research that would enable me to put a development plan forward. So I intend to conduct the research necessary to start the development of the tool and synthesize it .

I believe this tool could be very useful, first to build a database of activists and people involved in protests, actions, cyber-actions, petitions, tweet protests, etc. Secondly, to create a stimulus for people to be more active, improving their “ranking”.