Favrd, the now-retired (creator-destroyed) aggregation site for Twitter "favorites," began as the irreverent offshoot of a community of influential designers and developers -- people like Merlin Mann (@hotdogsladies), John Gruber (@gruber), Jeffrey Zeldman (@zeldman), and Dean Cameron Allen (@textism), the site's creator.
You don't need to know the lofty origins of Favrd, though; if anything, they're antithetical to the point. Favrd ran on a "no-webcock algorithm." ("Webcock" was Dean's term for shamelessly self-promoting "new media gurus.")
In an interview earlier this year, web developer Rafael Torres (@rafitorres) remarked: "A common concern for all of [the creators] was the idea that the social web had been invaded by a certain class of individuals who were apparently only concerned with marketing themselves and their brands through fake social interactions."
How Many Stars in the Sky? Infinite: and That's Too Many.
Simply put, I think what happened to Favrd was that a new crop of users appeared who didn't know how to value the currency, and thus they inadvertently devalued it. They were arbitrarily plastering their stars around town to promote themselves, like "take-out menus hung on the doors of other restaurants." Dan Wineman (@dwineman), "The Favrd Situation"
In this way, currency (devalued) only serves to commodify valuable content.
Remiel (@remiel) makes some generative suggestions here to "inject scarcity back into the equation." What if Favstar instituted a new metric... ? "The result, ideally, is... a truly useful list of vetted Twitter content, reliably worth reading. In short: a great, alternative Twitter filter."
"I hate when clever, elegant things leave the web." Jeffrey Zeldman to Dean Cameron Allen, commenting on "The Stars Look Down"
Favrd: The Black Sheep of Bottom-Up PosterCommunities
Cohesive communities like Favrd, grown organically without a pointed goal -- especially the communities grown around liberality of mind and well-placed puns -- have some people asking, "yes, but what's the point?"
Therein lies the point.
"I've met lots of people, collaborated creatively with a few and even had one stay on my couch during his trip across the country. All wonderful experiences." Jon Dascola, commenting on Zeldman's "The Stars Look Down"
So What's Beside the Point?
Professionally speaking, Avery Edison (@aedison) is an upcoming UK-based comedy writer who has her roots in the feedback and support of the Favrd community. You Look Nice Today (@hotdogsladies, @lonelysandwich, and @scottsimpson) is a free podcast "prepared by and for 'adults'" that now performs in 3space as well, for money.
For Goodness' Sake...
- SmallCanBeBig is a charitable non-profit that harnesses the power of small, direct donations for families in need. Mark Nikolewski (@mnik) is lead designer and art director for the organization; from his personal experience in the community, he can trace back thousands of dollars in direct donations to SmallCanBeBig from Favrd members. He estimates that the community supplies about 20% of the organization's (@smallcanbebig's) retweets, without accounting for any secondary networking effects. Mike Monteiro (@mike_FTW) has been one of SmallCanBeBig's most outspoken supporters, incenting donations via Twitter in Favrd fashion: "SmallCanBeBig: Tell you what: you donate $50 and I will tweet a PERSONAL INSULT which you can RT to show your friends how cool you are." (Visit SmallCanBeBig.org directly to donate sans personal insult.)
- Josh Hopkins (@thedayhascome) began tweeting about the medical condition of his daughter (born January 2009) as a part of the Favrd community, which rose up with overwhelming support while Lucy underwent serious operations and prolonged hospital stays. (Josh and his family will be participating in the March for Babies in 2010 to raise money on behalf of Lucy's name. If individuals would like to donate money to The March of Dimes, on behalf of Team Lucy Kate who is walking in the Indianapolis event, more information is available here.)
"Keep starring the heavens, kids. #thankyoutextism" (via @pagecrusher)
A more comprehensive directory of projects from the Favrd community is available here.