How Not to Be an Internet Loser

By Rebecca J. Rosen

We all know the feeling -- you're poking around online, find something truly genius, and want to send it to everyone you know. But wait -- what if they've already seen it? Are you going to be the laughing stock of Twitter? 

Now you can rest easy with isitold.com. Put in a URL of something you want to share, and it will tell you if you're late to the party -- how many times it's been tweeted and when the tweeting began.

At least that's the theory, and in theory it could be really useful, but as of right now the system seems to need some tweaking. To test it out, I entered a couple of Atlantic stories and checked isitold's report's against our own data, and the results were not inspiring. For example, I entered a piece I did earlier this week about robots writing books. Here's what isitold.com spit out:

robotbooks.jpg

Well, not quite. First, that piece is two days old, so the first time was definitely not 29 days ago. And second, the piece has been tweeted way more than six times.

But even so does that really make it "old"? Isitold.com seems to think just about everything on the Internet is, in fact, old. Unless you are one of the first few people to link to something, you have missed your chance.

That's not a helpful way to think about sharing. Sure, no one wants to be that person sending around the Charlie Bit My Finger video for the thousandth time, but sharing is what makes the Internet awesome. If everything is too passe to pass on, we all lose.

Isitold.com could be a useful tool but it needs that magic Internet ingredient -- the social factor. What would be great is if I could log in and instead of telling me how many times something has been tweeted in general, it would tell me how many times people in my personal twitterverse or Facebook network has done so. 

Of course, there's one website isitold.com holds to a different standard:

isitold.jpg


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/10/how-not-to-be-an-internet-loser/247150/