Posts tagged twitter

Priorities
Via David Beck.

Priorities

Via David Beck.

Well if that wasn’t the largest digital coffee break in the world, I don’t know what tops it.

Offer a Story: What Would You Do to Keep Reading?
Damien Spleeters, currently a student at Columbia’s J-School, is experimenting with new ways of sharing stories online. Here we have: The Offer a Story Project.
How It Works: Read a lede, decide if you like it, pay for the rest of the story with 1 tweet or 1 dollar, in bitcoins. 
He explains:

The micro paywall is quite flexible. Launched by BitMonet, it’s embeddable with a simple html code, and its features are customizable. You can offer one article, one hour of access, or a one-day pass. People pay with bitcoins, or just with a tweet. The more you share, the more you have access to. A bit like the reversed paywall introduced by Jeff Jarvis.
The story itself is hosted on marquee. A platform showcased during the Tow Center conference on the future of digital long form journalism a few days ago.


Immediate Thoughts: 1) If you care about what you tweet, do you really want to share a story before reading it? Scaled, how much noise does that add to the Twitterverse? 2) A dollar in bitcoins is nerdly cool, but how frictionless is the payment process for the non-bitcoin majority of the world? 3) This could encourage headline skimmers (and not your typical longform reader) to get enticed into a story through the lede, without yet knowing how long the story is and that they don’t want to read it right now. And by then you’ve “paid” so you might as well stay. Potential.
Try it out here. Give him feedback here.
Image: Screenshot from the first story on the site.

Offer a Story: What Would You Do to Keep Reading?

Damien Spleeters, currently a student at Columbia’s J-School, is experimenting with new ways of sharing stories online. Here we have: The Offer a Story Project.

How It Works: Read a lede, decide if you like it, pay for the rest of the story with 1 tweet or 1 dollar, in bitcoins. 

He explains:

The micro paywall is quite flexible. Launched by BitMonet, it’s embeddable with a simple html code, and its features are customizable. You can offer one article, one hour of access, or a one-day pass. People pay with bitcoins, or just with a tweet. The more you share, the more you have access to. A bit like the reversed paywall introduced by Jeff Jarvis.

The story itself is hosted on marquee. A platform showcased during the Tow Center conference on the future of digital long form journalism a few days ago.

Immediate Thoughts: 1) If you care about what you tweet, do you really want to share a story before reading it? Scaled, how much noise does that add to the Twitterverse? 2) A dollar in bitcoins is nerdly cool, but how frictionless is the payment process for the non-bitcoin majority of the world? 3) This could encourage headline skimmers (and not your typical longform reader) to get enticed into a story through the lede, without yet knowing how long the story is and that they don’t want to read it right now. And by then you’ve “paid” so you might as well stay. Potential.

Try it out here. Give him feedback here.

Image: Screenshot from the first story on the site.

SpaghettiO’s Posts Offensive Tweet About Pearl Harbor
To “honor” Pearl Harbor’s anniversary, SpaghettiO’s tweeted a photo of a grinning cartoon SpaghettiO holding an American flag. The brand was immediately met with the backlash on Twitter:
Via Patton Oswalt: 

Dear @SpaghettiOs: Genuinely afraid to scroll back & see what you Tweeted on the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination.

Via Mack Collier: 

.@SpaghettiOs You don’t ask others to remember a military tragedy by putting the focus on your brand mascot. NEVER make it about you.

Via Will Wheaton: 

What the actual fuck is wrong with you people? RT @SpaghettiOs: Take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor with us. 

Eventually, SpaghettiO’s had no choice but to apologize:
Via SpaghettiOs: 

We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.

Image: Mashable

SpaghettiO’s Posts Offensive Tweet About Pearl Harbor

To “honor” Pearl Harbor’s anniversary, SpaghettiO’s tweeted a photo of a grinning cartoon SpaghettiO holding an American flag. The brand was immediately met with the backlash on Twitter:

Via Patton Oswalt

Dear @SpaghettiOs: Genuinely afraid to scroll back & see what you Tweeted on the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination.

Via Mack Collier:

.@SpaghettiOs You don’t ask others to remember a military tragedy by putting the focus on your brand mascot. NEVER make it about you.

Via Will Wheaton:

What the actual fuck is wrong with you people? RT @SpaghettiOs: Take a moment to remember with us.

Eventually, SpaghettiO’s had no choice but to apologize:

Via SpaghettiOs: 

We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.

Image: Mashable

Twitter to be available on mobile phones without Internet

Tweeting is kind of an act of resistance and defiance, a way of shouting to the sometimes disinterested world that you’re stubborn, proud, and not giving in as everywhere else is turned into a clone of everywhere else.

@herdyshepherd1, The Atlantic. Why This Shepherd Loves Twitter.

A lovely piece about global connectivity from an anonymous British sheep herder.

Not Every Social Network Doubles as a New Source

Not Every Social Network Doubles as a New Source

Twitter’s About to go Public But What is It?
With Twitter expected to go public this week, what exactly is it?
An “unspeakably irritating” distraction, Jonathan Franzen once called it.

Twitter stands for everything I oppose. It’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters … It’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it’s like writing a novel without the letter ‘P’… It’s the ultimate irresponsible medium. People I care about are readers … particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves.

Fellow author Joyce Carol Oates is a bit more generous, even if she thinks Twitter’s more or less a waste of time: “Composing a tweet mimics the brain-activity of actual work & is thus highly addictive without being highly productive.”
But wait, says the author Austin Kleon. It is productive. He calls Twitter “a machine for book invention.”

Twitter is where we first get our thoughts down. Twitter is our public notebook, the place where we think out loud, let other people think back at us, then hopefully think some more.

Or, if we move out of the literary world, think of it as a giant data platform. Via the Wall Street Journal:

Social-data firms spot trends that it would take a long time for humans to see on their own. The United Nations is using algorithms derived from Twitter to pinpoint hot spots of social unrest. DirecTV uses Twitter data as an early-warning system to spot power outages based on customer complaints… The Red Cross began analyzing Twitter data during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy… using social-media-generated heat maps to direct aid.

With all that data though, Twitter’s a noisy, unfiltered firehose for the everyday user, argues TechCrunch’s Josh Constine, and he expects that casual user to leave the platform.
But, if we think of it another way and wax metaphorical, we might consider Twitter along the same lines as Alena Smith:

If Twitter can be thought of as a city (and, with 500 million accounts and 200 million active users, it’s vastly more crowded than any city in the world), then it is, literally, a city of rhetoric. Twitter is a fast-moving, ever-shifting virtual urban space that consists entirely of language, of messages, of communicatory blocks of symbols that circulate throughout this digital megalopolis rapidly, widely, and unpredictably.

Analysts expect the IPO to take place Thursday and raise about $1.7 billion.
So, the question remains, what is Twitter? Micro-blogging platform? Data platform? News channel? Second screen for watching a favorite TV show? The answer, of course, is, Yes.
Image: The first tweet, via Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Twitter’s About to go Public But What is It?

With Twitter expected to go public this week, what exactly is it?

An “unspeakably irritating” distraction, Jonathan Franzen once called it.

Twitter stands for everything I oppose. It’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters … It’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it’s like writing a novel without the letter ‘P’… It’s the ultimate irresponsible medium. People I care about are readers … particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves.

Fellow author Joyce Carol Oates is a bit more generous, even if she thinks Twitter’s more or less a waste of time: “Composing a tweet mimics the brain-activity of actual work & is thus highly addictive without being highly productive.”

But wait, says the author Austin Kleon. It is productive. He calls Twitter “a machine for book invention.”

Twitter is where we first get our thoughts down. Twitter is our public notebook, the place where we think out loud, let other people think back at us, then hopefully think some more.

Or, if we move out of the literary world, think of it as a giant data platform. Via the Wall Street Journal:

Social-data firms spot trends that it would take a long time for humans to see on their own. The United Nations is using algorithms derived from Twitter to pinpoint hot spots of social unrest. DirecTV uses Twitter data as an early-warning system to spot power outages based on customer complaints… The Red Cross began analyzing Twitter data during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy… using social-media-generated heat maps to direct aid.

With all that data though, Twitter’s a noisy, unfiltered firehose for the everyday user, argues TechCrunch’s Josh Constine, and he expects that casual user to leave the platform.

But, if we think of it another way and wax metaphorical, we might consider Twitter along the same lines as Alena Smith:

If Twitter can be thought of as a city (and, with 500 million accounts and 200 million active users, it’s vastly more crowded than any city in the world), then it is, literally, a city of rhetoric. Twitter is a fast-moving, ever-shifting virtual urban space that consists entirely of language, of messages, of communicatory blocks of symbols that circulate throughout this digital megalopolis rapidly, widely, and unpredictably.

Analysts expect the IPO to take place Thursday and raise about $1.7 billion.

So, the question remains, what is Twitter? Micro-blogging platform? Data platform? News channel? Second screen for watching a favorite TV show? The answer, of course, is, Yes.

Image: The first tweet, via Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Verifying Sources on Twitter
The New York Times’ Jennifer Preston is profiled on the Twitter Blog about how she uses the service to report the news. 

To help identify eye-witnesses at the scene, I’ll set up a search in TweetDeck or take a look at Topsy. I’ll sometimes ask my own Twitter community for help. NPR’s Andy Carvin (@ACarvin) showed us how to mobilize a community on Twitter to strengthen his reporting during the Arab Spring. My colleague, Brian Stelter (@BrianStelter), does a marvelous job on Twitter getting and verifying information for his [television] beat.
For me, the most effective way to find eyewitnesses is Twitter’s advanced search. Simply type in a keyword and location in the field that says “near this place”. The tool will produce Tweets from people who included that location in their profile. I will often type pic.twitter.com into a field to get images from that location.

Read through for the rest: Verifying Tweets when news breaks.

Verifying Sources on Twitter

The New York Times’ Jennifer Preston is profiled on the Twitter Blog about how she uses the service to report the news. 

To help identify eye-witnesses at the scene, I’ll set up a search in TweetDeck or take a look at Topsy. I’ll sometimes ask my own Twitter community for help. NPR’s Andy Carvin (@ACarvin) showed us how to mobilize a community on Twitter to strengthen his reporting during the Arab Spring. My colleague, Brian Stelter (@BrianStelter), does a marvelous job on Twitter getting and verifying information for his [television] beat.

For me, the most effective way to find eyewitnesses is Twitter’s advanced search. Simply type in a keyword and location in the field that says “near this place”. The tool will produce Tweets from people who included that location in their profile. I will often type pic.twitter.com into a field to get images from that location.

Read through for the rest: Verifying Tweets when news breaks.

Medium is the Message: The Perils of Algorithmic Curation

In an interview on his newest project (the just over 1-year-old long-form platform Medium) Twitter co-founder Evan Williams shared a few thoughts on the uselessness of general news, and the need for a platform to highlight ideas of lasting import.

TechCrunch reports:

Williams is taking aim squarely at the news industry’s most embarrassing vulnerability: the incessant need to trump up mundane happenings in order to habituate readers into needing news like a daily drug fix.

“News in general doesn’t matter most of the time, and most people would be far better off if they spent their time consuming less news and more ideas that have more lasting import,” he tells me during our interview inside a temporary Market Street office space that’s housing Medium, until the top two floors are ready for his growing team. “Even if it’s fiction, it’s probably better most of the time.”

[…] Instead, Williams argues, citizens should re-calibrate their ravenous appetite for information towards more awe-inspiring content. “Published written ideas and stories are life-changing,” he gushes, recalling his early childhood fascination with books as the motivation to take on the media establishment. The Internet “was freeing that up, that excitement about knowledge that’s inside of books–multiplied and freed and unlocked for the world; and, the world would be better in every way.”

In Williams’s grand vision, the public reads for enlightenment; news takes a backseat directly in proportion to how often it leaves us more informed and inspired.

This is a really valid, and really noble ambition that resonates with more than a few people. In a letter to a young journalist, Pulitzer winning writer Lane DeGregory looks back on her career and says she wishes she had “read more short stories and fewer newspaper articles.”

It also echoes what Maria Popova has been aiming to do with her curatorial interestingness project, Brain Pickings, for years now. Last week, she wrote a must-read piece on tech writer Clive Thompson’s new book, which pushes past “painfully familiar and trite-by-overuse notions like distraction and information overload,” to deeply examine the impact of digital tools. She writes:

Several decades after Vannevar Bush’s now-legendary meditation on how technology will impact our thinking, Thompson reaches even further into the fringes of our cultural sensibility — past the cheap techno-dystopia, past the pollyannaish techno-utopia, and into that intricate and ever-evolving intersection of technology and psychology.

The Problem: Though I’ve been excited about Medium and its potential, I’m inclined to file Williams’ vision for it into the “pollyannaish techno-utopia” bucket that Popova mentions because although the impulse behind it (the desire for an antidote to the ravenous appetite for tidbits of useless information) is something I wholeheartedly agree with, algorithmic curation worries me.

How Medium works:

Traditional news editors stake their reputations on having an intuition for what drives eyeballs to their sites. Editors don’t, however, know whether readers leave more informed.

Williams thinks Medium has an answer: an intelligent algorithm that suggests stories, primarily based on how long users spend reading certain articles (which he’s discussing publicly for the first time). Like Pandora did for music discovery, Medium’s new intelligent curator aims to improve the ol’ human-powered system of manually scrolling through the Internet and asking others what to read.

In the algorithm itself, Medium prioritizes time spent on an article, rather than simple page views. “Time spent is not actually a value in itself, but in a world where people have infinite choices, it’s a pretty good measure if people are getting value,” explains Williams.

"Time spent" seems like a questionable way to measure value, if "enlightening" content is what Medium wants to put on the screens of readers. As a content-neutral long-form discovery platform, sure, it makes sense. And there isn’t really anything wrong with it either. But touting itself as a solution to our appetite for endless streams of meaningless information seems troubling to me. Here’s why:

A key aspect of Thompson’s argument on the good the internet has done for our brains is that it has given us unprecedented access to one another’s memory stores, which means that our ability to indiscriminately discover information and understand the world through it, has expanded infinitely. To oversimplify it: we don’t have to remember as much by ourselves—we simply need to remember where information is stored and how to access it quickly. While the benefits are obvious, the issue with this is that it hampers creative thought, and our ability to make connections.

In light of platforms like Medium, longer isn’t better, especially when the discovery of value is left to machines. Popova excerpts a portion of Thompson’s book in which he explains how an algorithm’s biases exist, but are almost impossible to identify:

The real challenge of using machines for transactive memory lies in the inscrutability of their mechanics. Transactive memory works best when you have a sense of how your partners’ minds work — where they’re strong, where they’re weak, where their biases lie. I can judge that for people close to me. But it’s harder with digital tools, particularly search engines. You can certainly learn how they work and develop a mental model of Google’s biases. … But search companies are for-profit firms. They guard their algorithms like crown jewels. This makes them different from previous forms of outboard memory. A public library keeps no intentional secrets about its mechanisms; a search engine keeps many. On top of this inscrutability, it’s hard to know what to trust in a world of self-publishing. To rely on networked digital knowledge, you need to look with skeptical eyes. It’s a skill that should be taught with the same urgency we devote to teaching math and writing.

Popova explains that without a mental pool of resources from which we can connect existing ideas into new combinations—and I’d add, thereby access, retain, and be “enlightened” by information—our capacity to do so is deflated.

TL;DR: Popova’s piece doesn’t directly address or assess discovery platforms like Medium, but I think it’s worth considering them together. Longer form writing isn’t an antidote to short bites of information, and ideas of lasting value can’t be judged by time spent consuming them. The point here is that for content platforms that truly seek to give people access to more ideas with more lasting import, a lot more work has to be done, namely: (1) The limitations of algorithmic curation need to be transparent, and talked about, and (2) Readers need to be taught how to critically consume self-published writing that they received through digitally networked knowledge. —Jihii

Vintage Social Media Ads

Sao Paulo-based agency Moma Propaganda released a series of vintage social media posters for the Maximidia Seminars ad campaign, “Everything Ages Fast.”

Images: Illusion

Japan Adores Twitter, Remains Wary of Facebook
We’re well aware that not all social networks are created equal (when was the last time you logged onto your Myspace account?), but it’s also true that different cultural environments also render some social networks more fit than others. 
Case in point: last month, Japanese Twitter users logged the most-tweeted moment of all time, tweeting a groundbreaking 143,199 tweets in one second upon the airing of the Miyazaki film Castle in the Sky. This was far from a fluke — Twitter has long been popular in Japan.
Facebook, on the other hand, has fought an uphill battle to gain traction among Japanese users— a difference that speaks to the cultural fit of each platform in the country.
Via FastCo.Labs:

Twitter lets users self-efface, some have suggested, while Facebook is about the humblebrag—a major offense in traditional Japanese culture. When Japanese social networkers can enthuse about things that interest them—anime, games, music—without drawing attention to themselves, they seem glad to engage the broader world. But they are often uncomfortable being forced to broadcast their name and face. Homegrown Asian cyber social spaces have known this for years; Western ones might do well to understand.

Read the rest here, including the linguistic characteristics of Japanese that benefit Twitter, an analysis of how Japanese users tweet, and what this all means for platforms hoping to gain ground around the world. (TL;DR: Not all cultures are as narcissistic as ours, and social networks should take note.) 
Image: Kengo via Flickr

Japan Adores Twitter, Remains Wary of Facebook

We’re well aware that not all social networks are created equal (when was the last time you logged onto your Myspace account?), but it’s also true that different cultural environments also render some social networks more fit than others. 

Case in point: last month, Japanese Twitter users logged the most-tweeted moment of all time, tweeting a groundbreaking 143,199 tweets in one second upon the airing of the Miyazaki film Castle in the Sky. This was far from a fluke — Twitter has long been popular in Japan.

Facebook, on the other hand, has fought an uphill battle to gain traction among Japanese users— a difference that speaks to the cultural fit of each platform in the country.

Via FastCo.Labs:

Twitter lets users self-efface, some have suggested, while Facebook is about the humblebrag—a major offense in traditional Japanese culture. When Japanese social networkers can enthuse about things that interest them—anime, games, music—without drawing attention to themselves, they seem glad to engage the broader world. But they are often uncomfortable being forced to broadcast their name and face. Homegrown Asian cyber social spaces have known this for years; Western ones might do well to understand.

Read the rest here, including the linguistic characteristics of Japanese that benefit Twitter, an analysis of how Japanese users tweet, and what this all means for platforms hoping to gain ground around the world. (TL;DR: Not all cultures are as narcissistic as ours, and social networks should take note.) 

Image: Kengo via Flickr

How the Internet Ecosystem Works

CollegeHumor explains the Internet in four simple stages. Predditors and BuzzardFeeds and AggreGators, oh my!
So where does Tumblr fit in the ecosystem?

TumblBees gather LOLlen to take back to their hive, where it is converted into #funny and fed to follower drones. Sometimes a hive will collapse due to an overload of drama. Scientists have attempted to explain this phenomenon, but for unexplainable reasons they “can’t even.”

Image: Stage 1 of the Internet Ecosystem. See the whole thing here.

How the Internet Ecosystem Works

CollegeHumor explains the Internet in four simple stages. Predditors and BuzzardFeeds and AggreGators, oh my!

So where does Tumblr fit in the ecosystem?

TumblBees gather LOLlen to take back to their hive, where it is converted into #funny and fed to follower drones. Sometimes a hive will collapse due to an overload of drama. Scientists have attempted to explain this phenomenon, but for unexplainable reasons they “can’t even.”

Image: Stage 1 of the Internet Ecosystem. See the whole thing here.

Infographic: Tweets, Television & Tune-In 

Via Nielsen

A new independent study by Nielsen provides, for the first time, statistical evidence of a two-way causal influence between broadcast TV tune-in for a program and the Twitter conversation around that program. The study used time series analysis to determine if Twitter activity drives increased tune-in rates for broadcast TV and if broadcast TV tune-in leads to increased Twitter activity. By analyzing minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s live TV ratings and tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen’s SocialGuide, the study found that live TV ratings had a meaningful impact in related tweets among 48 percent of the episodes sampled. The results also showed that the volume of tweets caused significant changes in live TV ratings among 29 percent of the episodes.