About a week or so ago I caught wind of people talking about Flume. There was a "Got Flume?" website and various bloggers posted Delicious links or Twitters and Flickr Photos.
But something seemed wrong. I'm not sure what tipped me off but after a bit of discreet investigation I was almost 100% sure that it was fake and that it was a mildly elaborate joke. A sort of riff on Hype2.0 and the endless beta and invite only culture which, whilst useful to allow gradual ramping up of users to gradually test systems, also serves to artificially inflate the buzz surrounding new sites.
But the invite systems and invite only events such as Foo Camp and various other meetups and lists and forums are inherently elitist. Don't get me wrong - whilst it might seem unfair to people not in the loop, elitist and nepotistic even, a sort of modern old boys network - it's the way of the world and I actually don't think there's anything inherently wrong with it. If it makes any difference I'm not in the loop either - I've never been invited to Foo Camp for example. Apparently I'm not nearly hip enough :)
Also, to some extent, it's not a closed system. As long as you're hard working enough, loud enough and self promoting enough it's not too hard to become one of the inner circle (or one of the inner circles) if you so wish. Ok, so that's a vast over simplification but I think it's largely true.
That said it doesn't mean we can't have a little fun with them. Sacred cows make the best steaks, as the say.
So I decided that since Flume didn't exist I could write reviews of it. Bad reviews. Practically unbelievable reviews. And all the facts we're indisputable. They're as true as any other fact about Flume. I tried to put in clues that these were fake reviews - "effluvia" was a big one
Effluvium \Ef*flu"vi*um\, n.; pl. Effluvia.
[L., a flowing out, fr. effluere to flow out. See Effluent, a.]
Subtle or invisible emanation; exhalation perceived by the sense of smell; especially, noisome or noxious exhalation; as, the effluvium from diseased or putrefying bodies, or from ill drainage.
Plus the fact that my user names were principe - a reference to Machiavelli's "Il Principe", and cirving - a reference to Clifford Irving who attempted to hoax the world by claiming he had an authorised biography of Howard Hughes.
I also though Sass as some sort of karma system would be a dead give away but I've heard word that someone else thinks that it's a great name and that they might use it. Which is scary.
What was cool was that only a few of people knew what I was doing but gwire picked up on what I was doing and joined in and a couple of other people started to put up Delicious links and Twitters linking to me and warning people off Flume. The Spool even attempted to start a disinformation campaign to counter my own disinformation campaign. This, to me, was all kinds of awesome.
Sadly the original Flume buzz never got going - apparently Hype2.0 does need some work after all which somewhat undermine my own joke. I did consider starting to astroturf for Flume but, you know, sometimes that's just taking things a little too far. I'm sad, but not that sad.
So there you go. That's the short lived story of Flume. Of course if someone now goes and starts up a new service called Flume people are going to get really confused.