A timely Cringely reality check – read the full post
Let’s start by looking back to the dot-com era, which also happened to be the era of the day trader. Remember them? A successful day trader in the late 1990s could gain a following over Internet chat then use that following to make money by becoming an alpha trader. He’d say “I’m selling this” or “I’m buying that” and copycat day traders would do the same. If enough of them acted they could influence the price down or up and – since the leader was leading – he could almost always liquidate his position with a profit. The quickest of his acolytes would make profits, too. Those who didn’t profit weren’t seen as exposing the inherent flaws of this system, they were just viewed as too slow.
To a certain extent, the heirs of day trading have taken the lessons of that earlier era and applied them with devastating effect in the Twitter Age.