I am very proud to be listed as No. 8 on MindTouch’s list of Tech Comm Influencers for 2011. Nevertheless, and despite that fact that I don’t have a good success record at questioning awards I receive (or don’t receive), I do have a few questions for MindTouch about their list. I suppose that’s just because I’ve always been part of the awkward squad.
I am on record as expressing some doubts about the value of assessments of importance based largely on robotic algorithms. It wouldn’t be right for me to change my mind and say that algorithms are brilliant just because this algorithm has given me a high ranking. In the past I have been told by Klout, the most well known self-appointed arbiter of online influence (whatever that may be) that I am “influential” about Beer and Airports. While I and my Twitter followers may find that sort of thing mildly amusing, there are some people who have come to dislike Klout enough to delete their profiles.
So, as a bit of a sceptic when it comes to algorithm generated lists, I’d like to ask MindTouch about the “phenomenal social media analysis tool that hasn’t launched yet” that they used to collate their list of the 400 most influential people in Tech Comm and Content Strategy.
I have noticed a number of anomalies in the list. Many of the people ranked below me on the MindTouch list have wider circles of Twitter followers than I do, present at conferences more than I do, and blog more frequently. These include many people who influence me far more than I influence them.
The MindTouch list doesn’t distinguish between individuals and companies or organisations. I know this might be difficult to do, as many consultants blog and tweet under company names rather than under their own names. I wasn’t surprised to see that the STC is listed as no. 5 overall, as it is the largest English-speaking organisation for technical communicators in the world. But I was surprised to see that the Twitter feed for the STC’s UK and Ireland Chapter is ranked at no. 107, when it hasn’t posted a single tweet since September 2010.
The MindTouch list also seems to be limited to people and organisations that tweet in English. Germany’s organisation for technical writers, Tekom, gets more visitors and more exhibitors at its TC World conference than the STC gets at its Summit, but acccording to this list it has no influence. Why is that?
My final question for Mind Touch is why, if they claim their compilation represents influencers in both TechComm and Content Strategy, does the list completely ignore all the leading experts on content strategy on Twitter today? No Kristina Halvorson, no Gerry McGovern, no Erin Kissane, not even Rahel Bailie, to name just a few.
I do know that if MindTouch revise their algorithm I may well lose my Top 10 ranking. But I really do want to know more. I think we all do.