CNET recently published an article on how ‘Bots now running the Internet with 61 percent of Web traffic‘. Such bots include search engine crawlers or automated search engine optimization tools but also what I refer to as tools enabling the circulation of zombie content. XKCD illustrates this with an image that draws our attention to the fact that “the internet is filled with derelict accounts aggregating news about friends long forgotten.” Once you set up an account you may set in motion automatic content aggregation and circulation practices that may continue once you abandon your account. Guilty as charged.
I still have a FriendFeed account that has a life of its own. After Facebook acquired FriendFeed in 2009 it did not shut down the service but simply left it on its own. FriendFeed was a once popular social aggregator to gather your feeds from multiple platforms into a single feed that you could share with and comment on with friends. In a way, it presented itself as a central realtime commenting system for your social content in feeds from your distributed presence on various social media platforms across the web where “Your friends comment on the things you share, and you see their comments in real-time.” Moving beyond adding the ability to aggregate your distributed self into a single stream, enhanced with comment and share features, it also introduced us to ‘liking’ content. Even before acquiring FriendFeed, Facebook had already ‘repurposed’ some of FriendFeed’s features and functionality, such as the “like.” After acquiring the company and the team behind these realtime aggregating technologies it but never shut it down but simply left it going. So now my account is still automatically gathering content from across the web therewith contributing to the automated content practices filling the tubes of our interwebs.