Archive for November, 2008

Has Britney Killed Twitter?

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

A global sigh was heard throughout the devoted twitter community when Britney Spears had her first tweet.   Has this signified the end of Twitter as we know it?  Has a community founded on the concept of sharing intelligent thoughts and musings, posing questions, having large scale arguments, revealing the latest gadget before the company (and more often, its faults) now been swept aside by ‘Just left the Madonna concert. It was really fun’?

Twitter has grown exponentially over the last few months, this clearly indicated by the billionth tweet being published on the 12th of November.  The micro-blogging application was constructed with a 140 character limit on posts, forcing people to capture an idea or thought more concisely and strip away any useless waffle. It has been largely embraced by the web geek community including many Internet celebrities and has formed a thriving community and generated a onslaught of spinoffs, mashups and applications.

With over 9,000 followers, at time of writing, Britney has instantly caught up with many of the already well-established members of the community.  Are we going to witness a surge in the number of celebrities within the next few months, following in Britney’s shoes, as Twitter goes mainstream?  Stephen Fry has developed a large following through using Twitter over the past few months, however there is a distinct difference between his approach and Britney’s.  Stephen publishes all his thoughts, actions and questions himself, showing you the ‘real’ Stephen, or as close a version as he chooses to reveal.  ‘Team Britney’ contributes to her account more often than she does, which surely goes against the very concept of Twitter and social media?

Authenticity is key, as Twitter asks you the simple question, ‘What are you doing?’ not ‘What is your employer doing?’  It was designed as a way of revealing your inner thoughts and perhaps Britney would receive more credibility for her decision to join Twitter if it was clear that it was her decision and not just another PR campaign.

There is no argument that fascination with celebrities has grown and grown over the past few years, surpassing obsession.  It is certain that this ‘celebrity bubble’ will eventually pop, but exactly when is unclear.  Will it end with celebrities employing camera crews to follow them 24/7 in order to broadcast a live feed to the world in an effort to satisfy the hunger of Heat magazine readers?

Marketing guru, Seth Godin, is not a fan of micro-blogging and is actively against Twitter.  One of his arguments for this decision is that people will misunderstand what you say if you are too limited.  He states:

If you’ve got 140 characters to make your point, the odds are you are going to be misunderstood (a lot). There may be nothing wrong with that, but you should be prepared for it to happen. And most of the time, people won’t take the time to ask. They’ll just assume you’re an ignorant jerk and move on.

Twitter is a very ‘human’ tool and, as with viral marketing campaigns, many companies will find it difficult to hide the fact that they are strictly participating for business reasons.  As we see more and more brands like Dell and GM become active Twitter users, there is a mixed view from consumers.  While it is admirable that these companies are embracing social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, we have to wonder if they are communicating with their audience?  By choosing to follow the updates of a high profile company you have to ask yourself, who are you really following?  Is it the CEO, the marketing manager or an intern?  With many applications such as Twitter, details like this cannot be known and this is a critical factor that companies need to address if they are to participate successfully in this arena.

Barack Obama used the application, along with a range of social media tools, in his successful campaign for presidency.  Currently he is the most followed Twitter user with over 138,000 followers and with a record number of young people turning out to vote, it is clear that by using these tools, Obama was able to communicate with the younger generation with unparalleled success.  While his updates were limited to the latest location of speeches and new inspirational video uploads, and it was almost certain he did use the application himself, it does give some hope for celebrities that they can use Twitter effectively if they are intelligent about it.

By looking at Everett Rogers Diffusion model, we can see that the early majority are beginning to adopt Twitter and the application is nearing a tipping point, indicating that the life of a twitterer is about to change.  With an estimated 3.5 Million Twitter users, the group is relatively small compared to Facebook’s 120 Million or MySpace’s 106 Million, and currently conversations and interactions are easier to manage within this smaller community.  Currently people follow less than 100 people on average, making keeping up to date with tweets manageable, however if 100 Million people signed up to Twitter then it would be impossible to follow your timeline effectively.  Twitter users would have to become more ruthless in choosing who they follow, forcing them to alienate people, not because their updates are considered less appealing, but because the sheer effort to interact with them all would take up too much time.

Eventually this merciless and necessary ‘culling’ of followers would change the Twitter society from its current largely peaceful, friendly, interactive community into a cutthroat competitive bloodbath, forcing people to compete for attention.  Currently the community works effectively with a smaller population and determined users can easily interact with Internet celebrities one on one, as communication with 140 characters is simple and quick.  The arrival of Britney and her team has more than likely spelled the end for Twitter as we know it, bringing the tipping point ever closer, and therefore changing the Twitter community indefinitely.

I think the tweet below says it all.

Shawshank Redemption 80s Remix

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Matt’s at the Giant’s Causeway

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Just watched the latest Where the hell is Matt? video and turns out he was here at the Giant’s Causeway this year.  No way!  I would have definitely gone and had a dance with him.

The security guy in the demilitarized zone in Korea made me chuckle.

Size Matters for YouTube

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

After a few minutes of confusion this morning, wondering if I had accidentally changed my settings on YouTube, I discovered that they have universally expanded the width of their player and ultimately the page.

Here’s what they had to say on the topic:

Over the years we’ve heard a lot of feedback from you about what you’d like to change about YouTube, and the size of our video player is always top of mind. That’s why today we’re excited to announce a bigger YouTube player.

We’re expanding the width of the page to 960 pixels to better reflect the quality of the videos you create and the screens that you use to watch them. This new, wider player is in a widescreen aspect ratio which we hope will provide you with a cleaner, more powerful viewing experience. And don’t worry, your 4:3 aspect ratio videos will play just fine in this new player.

Is this YouTube’s latest move in an effort to compete with the higher quality video sites such as Vimeo and Hulu?  The new aspect ratio does make life better for the increasing number of people shooting video in 16.9.

Personally I think its great, the video player was always too small.  Occasionally I found myself squinting to see fascinating videos of Flying Fish.

It also hints at the great things to come as it coincides with the news that MGM will be displaying full length movies on YouTube.

Any thoughts on the new aspect ratio?

Are sites consisting of one word answers to a geeky observation getting old?

Monday, November 24th, 2008

There are a few general themes running through my work, an important one being a commentary on the Internet’s latest trends.  More specifically though, is looking at the rise of the latest ‘must have’ feature or style and then how long it takes before it is overused enough to be considered ‘old’.  It seems to me that the arc of originality is becoming smaller and smaller, just like everything else in the world I suppose.

Someone talented creates something unique, then it is taken, repackaged (often not very much) and repeated and repeated until even the original is considered out of fashion.

Are sites consisting of one word answers to a geeky observation getting old?

I created ‘Are sites…‘ to be a reminder that we have entered that stage for One Word sites.  We should appreciate the original concept and be inspired to create our own projects with as much originality, but be different!

Is It Christmas?

The original, Is It Christmas, came into our lives around this time in 2007 and became a hit with nerdy people.  It made us chuckle for about 10 seconds, long enough for us to forward it on to a few people, and then we forgot about it.  It wasn’t long before the copycats started popping up.  Some of the earlier and better ones are listed below.

Is it Tuesday?

Appeared not long after the original, says ‘yes’ on Tuesdays and ‘no’ every other day, as expected.

Is Obama President?

This is one of the better imitations.  There is a bit of style with this one and to be honest, I watched it go from ‘Not Yet’ to ‘Almost’ and then finally to ‘Yes’.

Is Twitter Down?

These sites are essentially useless, their only function being a spot of entertainment, as the original intended.  To expect people to actually use it for updates is crazy, however being hypocritical, I did chuckle at ‘Is Twitter Down’ as I am a bit of an addict to the micro blogging site and am constantly frustrated by Twitter downtime.

Abe Vigoda Status

Perhaps some of the inspiration for Is It Christmas came from Abe Vigoda Status, which lists if the Godfather star is still alive.  This came about when People magazine reported him dead in 1982.


So yet another quite amusing idea has been overused and now it’s not considered ‘trendy’ anymore.  Two lessons can be learned from this.

Praise the original concept

  • Praise the original concept
  • Take inspiration from it, but be creative in your own way.