Zombie Products = Lazarus Taxons?

I say "products" because these, not brands, are actually what Slate's Daniel Gross refers to in Zombie Brands II. (A follow-up to Zombie Brands part one -- which is also about products, not brands). For example, the McRib is a product; McDonald's is a brand. Likewise, the Taurus is a product of the Ford brand. And Tab is a product of the Coca-Cola brand (though I'm sure Coke's marketing folks might argue that Tab is a sub-brand within Coca-Cola's brand architecture). I'm calling them "zombie products" because "zombie brands" seems less correct for the majority of Gross' examples.

Now that we've gotten that clarification out of the way, I should get to my point: These zombie products are consumerism's version of the Lazarus taxon. I make note of this because in a previous PYLB post I discussed the "comeback" taxonomy seems to be making right now.


Scientific Prank Methodology

That's the term I just learned from an article in the latest issue of WIRED. The article explains how Annalee Newitz paid a service to get her incoherent, experimental blog a top rating on Digg. This, according to Newitz, was after Digg CEO Jay Adelson claimed "all the groups trying to manipulate Digg 'have failed,' and that Digg 'can tell when there are paid users.'"

It must sting to be Digg right now. But that's not the only reason I'm blogging about the article. The "cultural engineer" side of me picked up something other than the debunking of a CEO's claims.

It's interesting to read about the lemming effect that ensues once a few paid ratings are imitated by other Digg users. At a time when a lot of attention is given to the alleged usefulness of user recommendations, this is a reminder that the herd instinct is still in effect online.

Since most of us don't have the time to check the reputation of every user name we encounter ourselves, my gut tells me that we should expect to very soon see a service that recommends the best recommendations. Or, at the very least, some new sort of validation layer added to the experience of Digg. Surely, the folks at Digg must be all over it by now...

Read: "I Bought Votes On Digg"