I don’t like the idea of bigger media outlets covering Klout because I think it legitimizes something that’s really, really stupid and bad (I’m not even sure I linked to the Wired story when it came out, though I did reference it on Twitter), but the New Yorker does a nice job calling out Klout for what it really is.
But clever ideas are not necessarily good ones, and Klout is designed in a way that makes it likely to fuel both unhealthy obsession and unhappy competition. When you log into Klout, it makes it easy to see, in order of score, exactly how all your friends rank. The number is more personal than those used by other social networks, and Klout displays it prominently. The iPhone app shows your Klout score in a blaring red circle —just like the number of unread e-mails and unheard voicemails. “Look at me!” it’s yelling. And sometimes, when you do look, it tells you that you’ve become less important, less interesting, less retweeted, or less whatever. Do you really want something in your pocket that will tell you what you’re worth?
When you set your profile in Klout, you can pick “I am an individual influencer” or “I am a brand influencer.” I don’t really know what either means, but they both sound creepy. After I check Klout, I want to shower.