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4 online services to satisfy your vanity

Here are some digital tools you can utilize to stroke the old ego.
Here are some digital tools you can utilize to stroke the old ego.
  • The Web allows everyone to be the shining star in their very own drama/comedy
  • On Three Words, friends anonymously describe users in (yep) three words
  • Quora is a nifty little social question-and-answer site

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book Stuff Hipsters Hate. When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as news editor at, and Bartz holds the same position at Psychology Today.

(CNN) -- What is the internet for? Some think of it as the marketing opportunity of a lifetime. Others, a shining repository for boundless information. And some, like the folks at "Avenue Q," assert that it's for porn.

Well, from where we sit, the question, as applied to the majority of its denizens, is pretty easily answered: rampant life-casting.

Interneteur Josh Harris saw it coming back in the '90s with his Orwellian art project/society Quiet, in which a bunch of isolated volunteers had their lives monitored by scads of webcams. Andy Warhol forecast this even earlier when he quipped, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

For better or worse, the Web has allowed everyone to be the shining star in their very own drama/comedy. (Here's hopin' yours wouldn't run on Lifetime.)

So this week, instead of telling you to cease and desist tweeting about your cat's health problems, we're going to provide you with a cadre of tools you can utilize to stroke the old ego -- to tap into the pulsing vein of your rapt audience and reap the benefits of their attention.

NB: Use these tools wisely, given the nature of your online community. If your friends/followers are terrible people who hide behind the anonymity of the Web in order to cut people down for sport ... err ... you might just wanna skip these services and call your mom. She's sure to tell you you're special. Unless you're estranged or something. In which case, maybe Lifetime producers would take the call after all?

Find out how interesting you are

Everyone has fascinating hidden talents, talents that might not always come up in casual conversation:

Tom: "So, it's pretty hot out today, huh?"

Bob: "Yeah, hot. Say, did I ever tell you that a childhood obsession with the Greek god Hephaestus lead to me to take up metallurgy at the age of 13? That was awesome, because then I got to work as the blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg for a few summers."

Tom: "O ... K ..."

That didn't quite flow smoothly, huh? Luckily, developer Kyle Bragger recently dreamed up a little site called Facto that lets users share random facts about themselves, which other users can then comment on and rate.

According to Bragger, tools like Facto "play off our collective interest in being voyeurs, and the perpetual desire to 'see behind the curtain' and know what someone really thinks/feels about you."

Bragger also recently added a feature that lets you share facts about you and a friend. (Might wanna nix the one about how y'all hooked up on NYE while his/her GF/BF was stuck at home on account of the blizzard, though).

Luckily for the faint of heart, most of the ratings you can choose from are positive, the most cutting being "boring." So, yeah, if you're really sensitive about your passion for rock tumbling or souvenir spoon collecting, you might want to skip this one.

See what others really think of you

If you think "I," "love" and "you" are the sweetest three words in the lexicon, obviously, you have yet to try out Three Words, where friends anonymously describe users in (yep) three words. That's right, there's a service out that where people do nothing but talk about you.

Three Words was launched pretty recently by teen entrepreneur Mark Bao, and it's already seeing daily pageviews in the millions. "The inspiration was mostly about trying to get an honest opinion of yourself from others, through adjectives (or words, in general)," Bao says.

Here's hoping your friends actually do love you.

Legitimize your musings

You know how your friends are always asking you about your opinions on the notions put forth in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' "The Communist Manifesto"?

No? Well, we can't do anything about the woefully plebeian nature of your social circle, but we can direct you to Quora, a nifty little social question-and-answer site that lets you create an account, follow other users, post questions that the masses can weigh in on and answer questions yourself.

Although Quora launched in 2009, it has blown up of late: Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz even signed up and answered the question, "What does Dustin Moskovitz think of the Facebook movie?"

Many questions seem to be focused on social media (since Quora is currently replete with early adopters), so if you're not into talking about Angel Investors and the advertising potential of Tumblr, you might wanna stick to picking the brains of your less-techy pals.

But if the service continues to take off, you might just get to ask the masses what they think of the correlation between Marx and Engels' tract and the films of George A. Romero after all.

Find out whether your tweets are boring

Your Twitter account may be akin to James Joyce's literary masterpiece "Ulysses": a rambling, dialectically daring, real-time observation of modern life. Or it may be a soul-killing list of your health issues. Either way, people have opinions, and don't you want to know what those opinions are? Of course you do.

A trio of researchers from MIT, the University of Southampton and Georgia Tech have put together a little tool (which they intend to use for research purposes, of course) that allows you to see just how stimulating your tweets are to friends and strangers alike. It's called Who Gives a Tweet?

Basically, folks rate your 140-character musings on a scale of completely useless to totally worth reading.

Whatever the outcome in the end (be it totally validating or utterly debilitating), at least a goodly number of people will have been forced to read your tweets, which may be more than can be said for "Ulysses."


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