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Oct 16 2013

That taciturn fool sitting sullenly in the corner at the party is Lord of All

Niall Ferguson, that great gallumphing Harvard clod with delusions of superiority, has discovered a new way to put his critics in their place: he has invented a Blo(g)viation Index, which purports to provide a measure of one’s competence. It is — get ready for this — your number of twitter followers divided by your number of tweets. He has 60,000 followers and has made only 140 tweets, therefore his Index is very large. Of course. He wouldn’t have mentioned it or invented it otherwise.

The one virtue of it is that it will give him, and only him, incentive to shut up on twitter, since his index favors those who say little. And it allows him to disparage his critics who engage on twitter more.

(By the way, I looked, my Blo(g)viation Index is about 7, compared to his 400+. Does he realize that every time he snipes at Paul Krugman, his score goes down?)

48 comments

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  1. 1
    cswella

    I have made 0 tweets, and yet I still have 10 followers. What does this mean?

  2. 2
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    He forgot to divide by the angle of the shaft.

  3. 3
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I have an index of .16

  4. 4
    carlie

    .029 here. I suppose he doesn’t bother to block bots from following him; if I didn’t do that, I’d have easily double or more. But I try to keep my follower number tally an honest one.

  5. 5
    Owlmirror

    I have made 0 tweets, and yet I still have 10 followers. What does this mean?

    1) Blo(g)viation Index :
    2) NAN
    3) TILT
    4) ???
    5) Profit!

  6. 6
    carlie

    What’s also weird is the number of times I’ll write a tweet, then get a reply from someone I’ve never heard of a few minutes later when no one following me has even retweeted it. It makes me think there are people looking for random keyword hits on twitter all the time.

  7. 7
    PZ Myers

    Yeah, spammers are huge on twitter. A significant fraction of my followers are dumb bots who follow the traffic.

  8. 8
    chigau (違う)

    I don’t tweet and there had better be no one following me.

  9. 9
    rumleech

    0.033 I didn’t know I was so garrulous.

  10. 10
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I’d calculate my index, but I have it on good authority that dividing by zero has potentially world ending consequences.

  11. 11
    roro80

    I’m not on twitter, but I’m intrigued by this idea of just making up quality metrics willy-nilly so as to prove one’s awesomeness. I will now propose the following metrics which prove beyond a doubt that I should be (and really already am) queen of the world:

    1) HG, hair gorgeousness == rate of hairline recession*length of hair. Some may call that “balding while refusing to cut hair short”, but I’m going to define it as hair gorgeousness, because I said so. The comic guy from the Simpsons agrees with me.

    2) WR, well-roundedness == number of things one can do without being good enough to actually make a living at it. Bonus points if these things cost a lot of money to do.

    3) I, independence == number of family members and friends currently pissed off at you/total number of family members and friends.

    4) GA, general awesomeness == HG + WR + I.

    Metrics are neat, and prove beyond all doubt that I am generally awesome. Fun game, Dr. Fergeson!

  12. 12
    Raging Bee

    I’ve made zero tweets, and I have more than one follower on LiveJournal who would be a twitter follower if I was on twitter. So dividing a hypothetical number by a real zero makes me UNDEFINABLY AWESOME on his scale. Suck it up, Fergie-boy.

  13. 13
    Raging Bee

    I’d calculate my index, but I have it on good authority that dividing by zero has potentially world ending consequences.

    Your fear prevents you from embracing your full awesomeness.

  14. 14
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    What’s also weird is the number of times I’ll write a tweet, then get a reply from someone I’ve never heard of a few minutes later when no one following me has even retweeted it. It makes me think there are people looking for random keyword hits on twitter all the time.

    Yes, every time I have the word “kids” in one of my tweets, I immediately get spam from some parent-related account.

  15. 15
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Shorter Niall Ferguson:

    “I am unable to make my points in brief, therefore I am a more competent communicator than you.”

  16. 16
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    ¿ǝuop noʎ ǝʌɐɥ ʇɐɥʍ ‘ǝǝq buıbɐɹ ¿sıɥʇ sı ssǝupɐɯ ʇɐɥʍ

  17. 17
    Anthony K

    What’s also weird is the number of times I’ll write a tweet, then get a reply from someone I’ve never heard of a few minutes later when no one following me has even retweeted it. It makes me think there are people looking for random keyword hits on twitter all the time.

    When I used to Twitter, I wrote a tweet about psychics that went something like this:

    “I visited a psychic once. She told me I’d find love, become happy and wealthy. Fucking fraud.” Clearly a joke, right? (Maybe not.)

    Some member of some association of psychics started tweeting me about how sorry he was for my bad experience, but one bad apple doesn’t spoil the basket, and I shouldn’t judge all psychics and blah, blah, blah.

    So, yeah, there are those who search for keywords. And are fools.

  18. 18
    vaiyt

    Measuring competence by the number of sycophants hanging on to your every word. Sounds like it should be named the Dunning-Kruger index.

  19. 19
    Eamon Knight

    @11: I like your metric. Especially the HG part. (Also not doing too badly on the WR axis, and the I axis looks easy to achieve with minimal effort).

  20. 20
    David Marjanović

    buıbɐɹ

    ɓuıɓɐɹ

    Also, the underdot exists: ɓuı̣ɓɐɹ

  21. 21
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Thanks, I guess, David. I don’t actually know how to make the upside-down letters, I just let fliptext.org do the work and copy/paste the result. I thought about using zalgo text instead,
    .͎͍̦ͅ.҉͇̳ͅ.̴̮̫͍̬̳̙̯b͕̯͓u̙̖̕t̫ ̴̯͈I̷’̡̣̞̮̥̱̯m̼͉͙͓͠ ͝n̪̼͉͚̱͔͜o̯͙̩̘̠͈t̲̞̩̱̗ ͚͡s̖̝u̺̣̖͉̬̖r͉̖̳̙̱̭͘e̵̠̭̬̗̦ ̛̫̮͍i̩͓̻̣͖͕̩f͙̩̤ ̣͕̼͚i̤̲̥̪t̬̰͍̕’͈l̝͍̗͍̭̞͙l̮͖͍̫̀ͅ ̲̣̼͙w̦̹̘̟̲͚̝͜or͙̠ḱ͉̘ ͇̭͙̳̲͕h̷̦̺͙̤͔ę͇r̳̝͓͓̲ḙ̶.̷̬͎͉̣ ̼̥̼Z̥̝̀A͉͈̰̳̤̳L̠͉̱̙͟G͓̝̻O͏!̛̰̗̘̤̝̰͈
    ͙͇̰̲͈
    ̙͇̻H̸̺̤̻̠ͅE̕ ̯̜Ć͕̝O̸̠͚̮̫̦̣̼M̞͖̭̦̼̤͘E͍̣̹̥͔̪̝S̠̣̯͜!̜̭́

  22. 22
    thelifeofbrine

    What I love about this is that Ferguson obviously did this so that he could compare his score to Krugman’s and Krugman doesn’t even use twitter. His account was created by and is maintained by the NYT.

  23. 23
    Greta Christina

    Oh, no! People who aren’t famous are saying stuff! It’s almost as if they think they matter! m-/

  24. 24
    roro80

    @19 — I’ll give you a run for your money on all axes, but it looks like you’re well on your way to achieving General Awesomeness!

  25. 25
    David Marjanović

    fliptext.org

    Oh. Didn’t know about that. :-) Like all other special characters, you can copy them out of the character map (Windows: Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Programs > Character Map).

    zalgo

    Impressive, but so bad I’m not sure it displays correctly anywhere. :-)

  26. 26
    AJ Milne

    Huh. I’ve never been spammed on Twitter. I feel like I’m missing out*.

    I’m guessing I’m just not talking about things spammers find interesting enough. Or not talking enough on Twitter at all. But I wonder if we could do some kind of contest: come up with the 140 character message deliberately soliciting absolutely the most possible spam…

    Regrettably, tho’, I expect most of the gags I’m thinking would head that direction probably would fail FTB’s filters’ checks. So you’re just going to have to imagine.

    (*/Yes, I’ve already filed this under ‘be careful what you wish for’.)

  27. 27
    vaiyt

    T̴̨̬̬̤̩̹̪̗̫̭̼̦͍̜͚͍̳̲̙̿̈́̾ͪ̑͊ͤͭͣ̐ͤ̑ͮ͝͡ͅḩ̴͎̤̠̬̩̯̏̿ͬͮ̈́̀͗͌̀̊̉ͭ̿́̚͜e̡̨̓ͯͮ̆ͭ́͆̊ͮ̑͂̒̑̍͆̔͞͏̭͙̪͕̘̭̰̠̜̻͚̫̟͔̭̞̜͇̖r̢̙̗̦͉̓͗̅̔ͯ̈́͊̽ͭ̆̐̈̓̈́̀́ẽ̱͉̝̹̖̠͎̤̦ͮ͑ͬ̍̎͗ͨ͟͝͞͝ ̸͔͕̺̠̖̬͉̓͂̑̍ͯͧ͢î̍̌̇̆̓̄̃̇͏̶̨̛̣͚̻̟̙͘s̛̫̺͚̙̤̃̈́͐ͪ̿ͯ͊͑͞ ̣̥͇͉̲̣̺̺͕̟̣̩ͬ̽ͧ͋ͬ̉̈́͑͊̎̓̆̓̆̒͐̀̚͘͢ͅa̧͚̫̘̤̥ͦ̓ͯͯ̿̽ͪ̏ͨͤͬͦͪ͒ͨ͒́̀͢ ̶̞̦͖̱̯̲̼̭̹̾̃ͫͦ̑ͦͪ̈́z̷̨͎̟̞͉̼̰̻͍̺͕̖̝̭̝̘ͣ̀ͣ́ͮą͈͈̠̤̯̟̠͎͔͚͔̱̪̜̘̖͕͉̎̊̒̓ͮ̃͊ͬ̔̃́̚̕͟ͅļ̷͖͖̟̹̬̮̩̤̘̟̳͎̯͔͌̿ͪ͌̅͗̊̍͂ͭ̓̀̚͜͝ͅg̎ͧ̿̓̊̐ͣͫ̓͌̿̂ͩͫ̓͊̚̚҉̶̘̙̮̘̜͡͝o̴̧ͫ͊͌̎̈͗͋ͪ̏͋̋̆́̀͏̥̥̪̰ͅ ̭̥̲̤͈̬̫ͬ̈͆̿ͨͪ͛̐͛͜͝t̎ͫ̒͂ͦ́̀͌̉͑ͤͩ̊ͤ̄҉̹̦̥̳̺̙̙̹̰̥͍̱̯͚̺̜͓͎͎͜e͗̋̒ͮ̒ͯ̄҉̴̮͉͙̻̯͚̮̣̘͎̠͔̗̞̀͞ẍ̶̷̘̬̤͍͇̖̜͓͓̥̺̻̦͋ͩ͆̇̇̉̊̊̇ͪ͆̀̚͠ţ̖̜̘̻͖̃͐ͣ̋̍̓̊̄ͪ͆ͯ̀ ̶̯͎̭͉̃̿͌͑ͣͮ̀͟g̵̸̵̪̻̞͎̭͈̻͍̥̮̹̠ͭͫͦ͋̍ͭ̅ͤͣͩ̆̃͟͝eͩͩ̾̈ͫ̓͂ͬͧ͋̃͑̀͗͊ͤ͒̇҉̨̫͇͙͔͈̘̺͙̲̜̥̼̞͙̤nͥ͆͗̽ͧ͑̾̿̂ͤ̀̀ͩ͋ͤ́̕҉̭͓͇̝̰̠̖͓̘̯eͬ͒ͣ̃ͣ͌͌ͦ͂̉̇̄ͨ͆̚͏̲̳̦̼̘͚͘̕͢ŗ̷̈ͦͩ̎̑̍̄̅̿͏̝̘̥͈̣̜ă̢̺͎̬̯̞͉̠͎̙̠͍̥͓͍͑ͬ̅ͧ͑ͮ̅̍̃̐̉ͧ͑͌͡t̸̀͆̓̈ͨ̋͋̂̒̐͏̹̲͈͇̰̻̺͙͓̮̲̝͎ͅͅoͮ̔ͪ̎̐҉̵̜͖͙̠̗͇̱̝́͝ͅr̍ͩ̓̍͋ͬ̑̅̓҉̶̝̠͇͕̪͇͙̹̯͕͔͎̹͍̘̜͖́.̧͉̣͙̺͔̖̥̞͉̰̪͚̳̘̼̞̲ͭͭ̽̋͊̀̈ͣͮ͋͑̏̾̋̈̏̚͢

  28. 28
    vaiyt

    Damn, forgot the link. http://www.eeemo.net/

  29. 29
    zenlike

    This is exactly like a kid making up a game on the spot on the playground and then declaring himself ‘winner’ because of the conveniently made-up rules.

    This is the intellectual level of Niall everyone, congratulations Niall, you hack.

  30. 30
    Matt Inman

    Jamie Hyneman has 308k followers and has tweeted 308 times. His index is 1000. Win.

  31. 31
    zmidponk

    I don’t even have a Twitter account. Does that create a ‘divide by zero’ error and cause the universe to implode?

  32. 32
    Sili

    Oh, no! People who aren’t famous are saying stuff! It’s almost as if they think they matter! m-/

    Next we’ll have people trying to have a vagina and an opinion at the same time. What is the world coming to?

  33. 33
    Nick Gotts

    What is this “Twitter” of which you speak?

  34. 34
    anteprepro

    From the article:

    Part of what is wrong with the blogosphere is that most bloggers are just too trigger-happy – or rather keyboard-happy. As I said last week, I suspect that the amount they write also exceeds the amount the read….

    It’s striking that not one of these guys apparently bothered to read my most recent book, The Great Degeneration, which addresses the issues they claim to care about – low growth, public debt and financial regulation – far more thoroughly than I ever could in an op-ed.

    Basically: Argument from authority, “People reading you” = “You reading”, Reading and Writing are mutually exclusive, BAAAWWW READ MY BOOK.

    And bonus points for hypocrisy when he gets to wring his hands about “Krugmanites” talking too much while also bashing them for criticizing for things he said in articles instead of in his book. I mean, I can’t even parse the argument he thinks he is actually making. How could he possibly, sincerely, bash people for saying too many things on twitter and lauding his own relative brevity, while simultaneously saying that people cannot criticize or analyze the brief statements he makes without reading his two hundred page treatise on the matter?

    I guess I should expect nothing less from a crank who spits out “Keynesian” with all the venom of a fundie saying “Atheist” or Tea Partier saying “librul”.

  35. 35
    Tom Foss

    I find this hilarious, because a particularly daft Twitter troll charmingly named “atheismpluscrap” was going on some weeks back about “ratios” which he used to illustrate that Atheism+ people were demonstrably bad and Dawkins and himself demonstrably awesome. The fact that he continuously shifted between comparing tweets, follower, and following counts to make his numerological point didn’t seem to phase him or his self-assurance of his own supreme reasoning skills.

    That Niall Ferguson is on the intellectual level of that mental giant is really all I need to know.

  36. 36
    Davros

    hmmm i get
    0.0468622656886716
    not good

  37. 37
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Josh Barro, the other day, produced a ‘better chart’:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/niall-ferguson-uses-twitter-science-to-prove-he-is-better-than-everyone-2013-10

    Apparently, 18,000 is the number to beat.

  38. 38
    AsqJames

    I would suggest Mr Ferguson apply his formula to a few sports stars and Hollywood actors. Failing that, isn’t it about time somebody invented the Total Perspective Vortex?

  39. 39
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Damn. No tweets. No followers.

    0/0 = OH SHI . . .

  40. 40
    AsqJames

    @37,

    Damn! That link could totally screw up my originality index, unless….since I haven’t published the formula yet, I just need to tweak it until I can prove I’m the most original person who ever lived.

    /That’s how this works right?

  41. 41
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    AsqJames @38:

    Failing that, isn’t it about time somebody invented the Total Perspective Vortex?

    Well, being a really demented solipsist, I could handle that. I not only am the centre of the universe, I AM the universe.

    Which means that Cruz came out of my imagination.

    Sorry.

  42. 42
    ibyea

    Is this the guy who is like super obsessed with Paul Krugman?

  43. 43
    Duth Olec

    A score of .0175 for me? Yeah, this is way off. I’ve gotta be waaaay lower than that.

  44. 44
    firstapproximation

    Is this the guy who is like super obsessed with Paul Krugman?

    Well, he’s definitely had quite a few exchanges with Krugman.

    Considering this is the guy who once stated that Keynes didn’t care about the future because he was a homosexual with no children, making up a Twitter metric to prove his own superiority is actually an improvement.

  45. 45
    Stacy

    HA ha! Check out nfergus on Fakers.

    http://fakers.statuspeople.com/Fakers/Scores

    Ferguson’s Twitter followers are 17% fake and 51% inactive. What does that do to his bogus little metric!?

  46. 46
    schweinhundt

    Like thelifeofbrine said @22, Krugman doesn’t actually tweet. (I follow his blog/column on my phone via Twitter to end-run the Times’ paywall.)

    Krugman does, however, appear to monitor the comments on his blog—I have no clue how directly he’s involved in the moderation process. Ferguson’s blog, meanwhile, doesn’t allow for comments. I.e. one is reading (at least some) feedback and the other is reading none.

    IMHO, that makes Ferguson’s closing admonition (“Memo to the Krugmanites: Read more. Write less.”) a particularly tasty serving of rarified unintentionally ironic derp.

  47. 47
    kayden

    “He wouldn’t have mentioned it or invented it otherwise.”

    Ha!

    Perhaps Ferguson will never write another tweet just to keep the ratio of tweets to followers he has now, which would be brilliant.

  48. 48
    Russell Glasser

    My index is 1.52, which isn’t stellar, but it ranks me up there with most of the pundits he listed.

    I noticed Niall didn’t mention the actual numbers that were input to the calculation, because just saying “I have 60k followers to Paul Krugman’s 1 million, therefore I am better” would sound kind of stupid.

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