Blogs > Cliopatria > BS History ...

Mar 17, 2004 4:50 pm


BS History ...



So, I'm sitting here at the computer, googling"Cliopatria" just to see what latest libel of this fair blog has been posted on the net. Up near the end of the returns comes BS History. Momentarily, a chill went up my spine and a whole range of things ran through my head:"I know I've read a good bit of that; I've probably taught some of it; and, Lord knows, I might have written a bit of it. Now, somebody's found me out and blaming the whole group. I'll have to resign in shame and humiliation." Not to worry, it turns out."BS History" stands for a) BlogShares and b) its"History industry." Blogshares is a virtual stock market for geeks who get more deeply involved in the blogging business than I care to go. Is there anything American capitalism won't commodify? And that without giving anybody notice or asking anyone's permission? Whoever BlogShares is, they just put"Cliopatria" on the market. Good thing she's not a sensitive girl!

Joining 38 blogs already listed at BlogShares's History industry,"Cliopatria" goes up for auction with Eric Alterman's Altercation, Sherman Dorn, The Insecure Egotist , Martin Kramer on the Middle East, Daniel Pipes, and"well-turned.""BS History" says that"a few of these have really really good stuff to explore," but, as far as I can tell, it's a mixed lot of servants who share the auction block with us. Alterman, Kramer, and Pipes are well known, if controversial, characters. Dorn seems to post to his blog primarily to let his dean and his in-laws know what's going on. (I do my dean and in-law communicating separately and a little more privately.) The Insecure One looked promising, at least it did 14 months ago when it fell silent. And"well-turned"? It's somewhere so far down among the google hits that I couldn't find it. Well, that's the bad news.

Since it's a virtual stock market, those who choose to play the game are given $5,000 in play money. The good news is that if you had had the wisdom to invest in"Cliopatria" at our opening price of .42 a share on 9 March, you'd have made a cool $375,000 on your investment in the first week because we closed at $31.85 on 16 March. While I was over there, I checked on the Cliopatriarchs' independent trusts. Ophelia Benson's"Butterflies and Wheels" hasn't been subjected to this humiliation, yet. Michael Tinkler's"Cranky Professor" is a steady, blue chip investment, opening on 9 March at $682.22 and closing the next day at $723.23. But you high rollers would also have made good money on Tim Burke's"Easily Distracted." It opened at $1.75 on 9 March and closed at $90.54 on 14 March. Just remember this, if your name is Martha, I didn't tell you anything and you didn't learn it here.

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Price Rials - 3/19/2004

Possibly. :)


Jonathan Dresner - 3/19/2004

So, basically, this is just a widget-trading pseudo-market, with blog traffic serving as a sort of randomly variable widget value. I swear, people need to find more productive hobbies. I think you'd learn more playing Monopoly (tm) and Risk (tm).


Price Rials - 3/18/2004

Well as an indicator of blog popularity I wouldn't consider it to be anymore accurate than trackbacks or google rankings. It's actually probably less acurate than google rankings in that only a miniscule part of the blogs in existence are in the Blogshares database. How it is different is that Blogshares is arranged in the form of a game that many find enjoyable to play, despite the fact it doesn't accurately portray any real market. Although there are current plans to work towards making the game more realistic. As it stands now for someone playing, it may not be easy to make money, but it is hard to lose it.

The trading is all done in fake money. On the issue of you're blog being listed in the game - my opinion and that of some others is that Blogshares is essentially like Google or any other directory in that it lists blogs. There is a game to go along with it, but no content from any blog is used in gameplay, only the blog name (and the incoming and outgoing links). In the past requests to have a blog removed from the game database by the owner have been met, but as I understand it the owners and administrators are under no obligation to do so.


Oscar Chamberlain - 3/18/2004

I think the Pet Rock may be the ultimate example of commodififying an object. I have always admired the exuberant capitalist chutzpah of the genius who inpired people to adopt a rock and even buy it a sweater.


Jonathan Dresner - 3/18/2004

OK, I'll ask. What's the point? What is this market supposed to tell us about blogspace, other than the obvious fact that some blogs are better read than others? How is this different from some sort of trackback poll or google ranking?

And what gives someone the right to trade and profit from my intellectual output without my consent?


Price Rials - 3/18/2004

Blogshares would make a terrible indicator of a real market as it in now way behaves like one.


Price Rials - 3/18/2004

I run the BS History blog and I'm glad to see that someone took notice, most of the players of the game certainly haven't it.

As to those blogs listed on BS History and their perhaps questionable reputation or lack of relevant content... Well, I shamelessly snagged them from the HNN blogroll. Blogs that focus on history unfortunately seem few and far between.

If you have any questions about the game, feel free to ask. Otherwise, keep up the good work here, I likely would never have seen the post about BS History had I not been checking for new updates on the situation at USM.


Timothy James Burke - 3/18/2004

It's been around for a while. In its least jargony form, it simply means "the historical process by which things or practices which previously had no value as market commodities gain value as market commodities". So for example if I was talking about a society where people normally made porridge for themselves but then start making porridge to sell in a marketplace, I might say that porridge was being commodified. More generally, it can refer to "a general historical process in which many things which had no market value are gaining market value", which is pretty much the sense I use it my first book. It has some more arcane or particular meanings in the context of Marxist theory.


Jonathan Dresner - 3/17/2004

It's a term in pretty common usage at this point, though usually the more pretentious "commodification" is used.

Usually these sham markets are intended as predictive or evaluative in some way. What's the point? And can we ask to be delisted, as I find the whole thing rather troubling for reasons that I don't have time to go into now.


Ralph E. Luker - 3/17/2004

Van, Now that you mention it, I can't find the word in the dictionary either. But I can't take credit for coining it. You'd find it in the sub-title of Tim Burke's first book, for example. He uses it quite commonly in his writing. I doubt that Tim would claim credit for coining it. I suspect that it is a word in use in a certain circle of cultural critics, but which has yet to register with the OED. I'm not certain of that because I only have the older two volume edition.


Van L. Hayhow - 3/17/2004

Is that a real (meaning established) word or did you just make it up? If its not, it should be but I could not find it in my dictionary and my newest and best dictionary is not available. If you made it up I would like to know so I can credit the source when I use it.

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