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Drew Curtis reveals the secret to all social media at UK’s Tech Week


What if, when you’re adding up the receipts at your fruit stand, “you find out your number one selling item is Doritos?” Should you be in the fruit stand business or the Doritos business?

Fark.com founder Drew Curtis revealed the secret to all Social Media during last week’s Tech Week at the University of Kentucky.

– write good content;
– make it easy to share;

– don’t suck.

Curtis founded Fark.com over ten years ago, and the site remains headquartered in Lexington. Curtis is the founder and sole owner, and the site (a news aggregator with accents on absurdity). Fark has been a category on Jeopardy and generates upwards of 60 million pageviews per month.

He discussed the common miscalculations mainstream media makes when it comes to social and new media:

“Social media is a utopian democracy where everyone participates equally.” It isn’t. It’s about one percent, who are doing 99 percent of the talking. (He cites Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who explains Ron Paul as a “phenomenon” that was actually the result of about 50 people who drove the online conversation.) Most people are not actively watching, much less participating.

“Nobody has a million followers—not even the guys who have a million followers.” See Anil Dash’s post, Nobody has a million twitter followers.  He cited the example of the recent Randall Cobb twitterburst. The tweets didn’t go viral because Randall Cobb had a million twitter followers, instead, Curtis said, “it went out sideways.”

“The Platform doesn’t matter,” he told the crowd at the opening address.  In five years, it will change anyway. He asked the students, what was the platform before Facebook? MySpace. What was before MySpace? Friendster. Before that? AOL and even prodigy. He says the one thing you can count on is that “13-year-olds hate what 18-year-olds are doing now.” Facebook in year six has made fewer mistakes than some, but he points they nearly had a legitimate “next social network” challenger when Blizzard launched Real.ID.

What will Web 3.0 look like? He says the next platform may be Editing.

In his book, *It’s Not News, It’s Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News,* and in last week’s talk, he pointed out repeatedly that the readers drive demand, particularly in an era of increasingly precise web analytics.

To that extent, while he may give legacy media a legitimate hard time, he adds that the indictment isn’t “them” as much as it is “us,” as readers. He mentioned the duration of the “top story” ranking at kentucky.com when Coach Cal cut down a tree in his yard, adding, “God forbid he ever mows his lawn.”

In an ongoing struggle to make sense of social media and monetization and the online world, he compares it to running a fruit stand. What if, when you’re adding up the receipts at your fruit stand, “you find out your number one selling item is Doritos?” Should you be in the fruit stand business or the Doritos business?

UK’s Tech Week continued with presentations from Sean Gorman, Bambi Francisco and Ezra Roizen, along with Lexington’s Todd Willey and two days of discussion on transparency and open access to information. The week wrapped up with a two-day course on mobile application development.

You can read about technology, new media, and social media in Lexington daily at aceweekly.blogspot.com.

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