Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Today's celebrity Twitter fight: Steve Case vs Sarah Silverman!

Posted by andreaitis on February 15, 2010

Sarah Silverman on stage at TED2010 (via

Sarah Silverman on stage at TED2010 (via

Yesterday it was Kevin Smith in a blistering twitter tirade about having his chubby self chased off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was ‘too fat to fly.’

Today it’s AOL co-founder Steve Case in a snit-pick with comedian Sarah Silverman.

The Issue: Sarah Silverman spoke at a fancy schmancy conference and used the word retarded over and over (and over) again.

Let’s see how this scene unfolded…

The Place: TED2010, a conference that describes itself as “a lineup of amazing speakers, performers and attendees…gathered for four days of TED in Long Beach and Palm Springs.”

The Background: It costs six thousand dollars to attend TED.    Six.THOUSAND.Dollars.    According to blogger, author and tech evangelist Robert Scoble (he’s worked at Microsoft, Fast Company and is currently at Rackspace),  TED never even gives out more than 15 press passes.  It’s been called elitist, smug, pompous and unattainable; the Conference for the Rich & Famous.  Scoble himself suffered from TED Jealousy in 2008.  Now, though, he’s a convert.  In a Scobleizer blog post he wrote yesterday:

Truth is, TED has opened up its content to the world. More than 500 talks have now been shared on TED Talks.

On the TED stage I saw that they had hundreds of events where the live feed was broadcast, including many into Silicon Valley (several VCs and entrepreneurs invited me to view TED with them at their houses, or work offices). Rackspace bought the feed too and lots of my coworkers were talking with me about the talks. So, getting access to the content might not be attainable by everyone in real time, but is certainly attainable eventually by everyone.

via The elephant in the room at TED — Scobleizer

The very first TED conference took place in 1990; over the years speakers have included Lost creator J.J. Abrams, novelist Isabel Allende, founder Jeff Bezos, magician David Blaine, True/Slant’er Michael Shermer, Avatar director James Cameron, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Bono.  This year TED ran from February 9th through the 13th, and included the one and only  Sarah Silverman.

The Incident: TechCrunch has a good write-up of Sarah’s TED performance, from someone who was actually in the audience.

(I’m recalling from memory):

“I want to adopt a special needs child (to which one person applauded), because adopting a special needs child, who would do that? Only an awesome person, right?” I looked around the room and I knew exactly what was coming next. She was going to say retarded and not only was she going to say it, she was going to drop it like 10 times. I knew it wouldn’t be ok, but I was excited about it…

…She went on to say:

“The only problem with adopting a retarded child is that the retarded child, when you are 80 is well, still retarded and that she wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms of setting them free at age 18, so she was only going to adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness so it has an expiration date, because who would adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness? Well, someone who was awesome like her”.

The room went silent and she went on with her show and sang a song about how all of the penises in the world couldn’t fill your heart holes.

The Aftermath: Aside from a mixed reception from the crowd, the man responsible for pulling TED together  took to the Twitter waves with his own reaction.

Chris Anderson on Sarah Silverman and TED

Wikipedia describes Chris Anderson as “the curator of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference, an influential annual conference.”  I’d describe him as someone who 1. couldn’t wait to distance himself from the expectedly controversial Silverman and B. has a hypocritical sense of the free thinking that TED is supposed to embrace.

At any rate, Silverman posted her own Twitter message, which prompted AOL co-founder Steve Case to jump in, and…well…Gawker pulled together the entire She Said/He Said exchange:

Earlier today, TED Organizer Chris Anderson called Silverman’s “retard”-filled talk “god-awful,” which set off this exchange between Silverman and AOL founder Steve Case:

The Analysis: What caused all of this?  Robert Scoble has the most prescient and balanced perspective on  Sarah Silverman and TED:

Silverman succeeded because her talk was a science experiment, albeit one of trying something out on a much different audience than she usually gets to perform in front of. TED is all about trying out ideas and seeing which ones are the best and hearing from the people who do the best experiments, from dance to algorithms. Silverman is the best at her craft alive today. Or certainly in the top .001%.

It was why she was on the TED stage. She used that opportunity to try to challenge the audience. That was successful and I hope TED invites her again to perform another one of her experiments on stage.

But it failed too. I found her talk repulsive and challenging. I was in the second row. I actually was one of those who called for her to come back out on stage, although I knew that she had challenged the audience in a way that would be viewed as a failure. She challenged me quite a bit with her experiment. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that Chris Anderson, the guy who runs TED, had said she was “god-awful” on Twitter (he now has removed that tweet).

I didn’t have a chance to discuss that talk with Chris, but I would say that he was wrong and right. He was right that her talk wasn’t up to the usual TED quality but that she represented the best of what TED is: science experiments in human living.

via The elephant in the room at TED — Scobleizer

“Science experiments in human living.”   We can apply that to Twitter as well.  We’ve been granted access to intimate moments we might otherwise never see.  We all experienced first-hand the emotions around Silverman’s performance because Sarah Silverman and Steve Case allowed us to do so, as did Chris Anderson (until he deleted it).   With Twitter, Facebook and now Google Buzz, we’re all experimenting with what we share, how much we share when, where and with whom.  It happens to the rich and the poor, the known and the unknown, the savvy and the meek.   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Technology, social media, social publishing, digital community — it is collectively the great equalizer.

Chris Anderson should not shy away from this.  It is, as Scoble states, what TED is all about.   It’s exemplary of what we are all going through now as we fumble through new social terrain.   It is what you should have expected  from a Sarah Silverman performance, and you should have embraced it at that moment.  Why did it split the audience?  Why did it trigger such strong emotions?  That’s the hard but most interesting part.  Don’t favor political correctness at the expense of greater understanding.  We can look at @thatkevinsmith’s rabid ‘too fat to fly’ twitter rant and see the very same thing.

The Conclusion: It’s all so awesomely exciting that I’ve come up with a new word for this phenomenon:  twumble.

Twitter + Rumble = Twumble.

@johncmayer, I’m pretty sure you’re up next.

I’ll leave you with one last thought on the Sarah Silverman saga and, really, it’s all we need to know:  She’s f**king Matt Damon.

[youtubevid id=”WTADSFR0E_c”]


Posted in Entertainment, social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Panic all you want: Freaked-out tweets after earthquakes help scientists

Posted by andreaitis on December 15, 2009

Great headline from   For all of you still grumbling that Twitter is boring, useless drivel, listen up.  Smarty-pants scientists say it ain’t so.

A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists have developed a web service that combines seismic data about an earthquake with Tweets of surprise and angst from the popular microblogging service’s users.

“Why would such a system work?” asked Paul Earle, a geologist at the USGS, at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting Monday. “Because people like to tweet after an earthquake.”

It turns out that the “Earthquake! Earthquake!” SOS that you tweet, aggregated with thousands of others, provides an excellent indication of the strength and severity of a quake. A little rumbler yields just a small spike, while a strong quake produces a huge spike in Twitter activity, as seen in the graph below.

Freaked-out Twitter messages afer earthquakes

Image by Paul Earle

via Freaked-Out Tweets After Earthquakes Help Scientists | Wired Science |

The goal is to improve emergency response time and effectiveness.  The scientists are  integrating Twitter messages into their standard earthquake alerts, layering the tweet trends  on top of their professional tools.  One challenge, though, is that the data is typically “noisy.”

What the scientists gain in breadth is partially canceled out by the lack of control they have over the incoming information. After all, Quake is also a popular videogame and Dairy Queen serves up a “brownie earthquake,” and both are likely to find their way into tweets.

“We’ve been developing filtering techniques that allow us to tell the difference between an actual earthquake and a group of people who just finished playing a videogame and got the munchies,” Earle said.

Noise aside, this is pretty cool.  You can see how it becomes even more valuable when you layer Google Maps and geolocation apps like Foursquare or Gowalla on top of the Twitter data.   And then you can cross-reference Twitter with the Facebook stream to look for consistency and confirmation of trends.   Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey say their service may be most useful in the window between when an earthquake happens and their professional data starts coming in.  That window is  approximately 2 to 20 minutes, enough time for an avalanche of Twitter or Facebook updates.

And speaking of avalanches, if this works for earthquakes it should also be useful for hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and blizzards.   Is the National Weather Service talking to the U.S. Geological Survey?   Are @usnoaagov and @usgs following one another on Twitter?  Are they Facebook friends?

I’ll send an  SOS to the NOAA so they can tweetup with the USGS ASAP.


I twittered @usnoaagov and @usgs and got a quick reply:

Our government at work.

Our government at work.

I have to say,  I’m impressed.  Two government agencies working together, engaged with the public, responding to  questions.  I almost can’t wait for the next mega weather event to see how this all works in real time.

Posted in science, social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Office of self promotion: T/S founder named to Silicon Alley 100 list

Posted by andreaitis on December 9, 2009

Here’s LD, clocking in at #42 on Silicon Alley Insider’s annual top 100 list.  This year, the list actually goes up to 113 and represents “people in the NYC digital community who did really cool stuff.”

No worries, world.   Our collective T/S ego remains in check.  And if it dares to swell a bit we simply have to pull up the other Silicon Alley Insider story about us, the one that called us boring five minutes after our alpha launch.

Ok, that’s not fair.  It was more like 12 hours after we launched.

Seriously – on behalf of LD – we’re excited to make the list.  Thanks, SAI.

dvorkin 2009 silicon alley 100_12-9-2009 12-48-02 PM

Top 50. Not too shabby, LD.

Posted in Business, social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Microsoft's Vine takes on Twitter, Facebook and Google

Posted by andreaitis on April 28, 2009

Microsoft Vine

One minute Oprah is the Internet’s new Tweetheart, the next minute hard-core twitterers are grumbling.  It’s like when hordes of people invade your favorite secluded beach spot.  Usually that means it’s time to find a new favorite secluded beach spot.  Enter Microsoft, and a new product called Vine.  It’s in early beta testing in Seattle, but it looks like they’ve zeroed in on core needs with the easy messaging of Twitter, the contacts and connections of Facebook, and the local news and Latitude of Google.  If it works better than Internet Explorer (a low bar),  it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.   Could this be the next big thing?

Vine is designed to keep family and friends in touch when other communication methods are either broken or not particularly efficient. Times of crisis usually involve a breakdown in mobile phone or other key communication infrastructures, and Vine is designed to be as hardy as possible to keep people connected. Vine can be accessed via a desktop client (Windows only for now), text message or email.

So what is it? Vine is a tool keep people connected during a crisis, but it’s also used to for more mundane, everyday tasks. My guess is it will hit a sweet spot with the masses. My parents, for example, are going to love this.

via TechCrunch:  Microsoft Vine To Connect Family, Friends When Crisis Hits

Posted in social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Larry King or Ashton Kutcher: The Million Fan March

Posted by andreaitis on April 16, 2009

Larry King via Wikipedia; Ashton Kutcher via Flickr

Larry King via Wikipedia; Ashton Kutcher via Flickr

Really, all I have to do is put up these two pictures and you can imagine the thousand words.  Still, it’s worth repeating the battle that is surely creating warped pay-per-view visions in Vince McMahon’s mind.   Dreamy Ashton Kutcher and rickety-crickety CNN are each racing to get 1 million followers on Twitter.  I’m not really sure why or how this started (and I can’t say I care enough to bother looking it up) but there you have it.

But — as if this wasn’t dramatic enough — enter a NEW challenger.  A challenger, in fact, with a secret past that can rival stories of Larry and his Seven Wives, proving once again that it’s not necessarily who you are, but who other people think you might be.   We’ll just see who gets the last punk’d.

While Ashton Kutcher and CNN are trying to be the first to hit 1 million followers on Twitter, Joseph Frieschel, an inconspicuous Australian MD, is quickly catching up. Frieschel only opened his Twitter account last night, but he already has over 200,000 followers. How can this be? Well, it looks like the anonymous members of the infamous 4chan imageboard didn’t like the idea of either Kutcher or CNN breaking the 1 million follower barrier before they got a chance to make their presence felt.

4Chan Takes on Twitter

The choice of the fake user’s “real” name, username, avatar, and bio are typical examples of the kind of crass and often tasteless humor that runs rampant on anonymous forums like 4chan. The new Twitter account clearly refers to Joseph Fritzl, the Austrian who, unknown to the rest of his family, imprisoned his daughter in his house’s basement for 24 years until his double life finally unraveled last year.

Not all of the humor on 4chan is this crass, however. The site, after all, was also the breeding ground for popular Internet memes like Rickrolling and lolcats.

Operation Basement Dad: How 4Chan Could Beat CNN & Ashton Kutcher

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Friendfeed: New version today @ 9 am pst

Posted by andreaitis on April 6, 2009

Friendfeed has been flying under the radar, lurking in the shadow of Twitter and Facebook.  This morning the clouds will part and a new version of Friendfeed will emerge.  It was demo’d to bloggers, and  reviews and videos of that demo will be available in a few hours.  In the meantime, Robert Scoble has  already weighed in with a “not so much” reaction.  He does, however, have a smart, succinct list of product requirements for Twitter 2012: Filtering, Groups, Messaging and Location.

If something like the Hudson plane crash happens in Twitter 2012, I want to draw a box around New York and tell Twitter “only show me Tweets from inside this box.” To do that Twitter will need more metadata. In this case, location of where Tweets are being sent from (Twitter could easily get that from my iPhone’s GPS or use my Internet provider’s data to get detail on where my location is).

What else might I like in Twitter 2012?

See the list of six must-have Twitter features @ Scobleizer

Here on T/S, we’ve had an ongoing debate over the value of Twitter.   Read Scoble’s list and then tell me: would you use that kind of Twitter?

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Mark Cuban vs NBA. Who Wins? Twitter.

Posted by andreaitis on March 29, 2009

Now if only Mark Cuban was twittering when he was on Dancing with the Stars…

Mark Cuban on Twitter

The NBA has fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the dotcom billionaire, $25,000 for slagging referees on Twitter Friday.

via Shut Up, Twitter: Mouthy Billionaire Mark Cuban Fined for Using Twitter.

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Sky News Hires 'Twitter Correspondent'

Posted by andreaitis on March 6, 2009

Twittersphere…Grand Master of Twitter…Twitter Correspondent…

Twitterrific or Twit-wits?

Read the memo, circulated to all Sky News staff:

THE POWER OF TWITTER: The Twitter phenomenon continues to explode. A phono with an eyewitness in Lahore yesterday came to us through Twitter. Last night’s breaking story on the death of a Briton in the Alps came to us from Twitter. The first phone on the Buffalo plane crash came from Twitter. The first photo of the Hudson River rescue came from Twitter. Convinced?

The Online team is using Ruth Barnett as a “Twitter correspondent” – scouring Twitter for stories and feeding back, giving Sky News a presence in the Twittersphere. If you don’t understand Twitter and would like a demonstration of its power as a newsgathering tool, the Grand Master of Twitter, Jon Gripton, is running a session in Meeting Room 5 next Tuesday at 1400.

Job Title To Watch: ‘Twitter Correspondent’? – MediaJobsDaily

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Twitter Baby-Stepping on Google's Turf?

Posted by andreaitis on March 6, 2009

There is pretty much no middle ground for Twitter.  My unscientific study tells me people either get it or they don’t, end-of-story.  But I’m saying, either way, don’t dismiss it.  Twitter is on to something  And not just the “i yawned’ kind of blip messaging. It’s early, and we’re seeing it evolve live and in person….but this new focus on search and trending is interesting for both consumers and advertisers.  Think of the potential as usage grows…


Twitter appears to be in the process of rolling out its integrated search feature with a search box and a trends button appearing on some user profiles today. While the feature is not yet available to all users, our guess is that it’s very much on the way – and soon.

The trends tab offers a drop down list of top ten trending topics (Chris Brown being the current most discussed topic), and the search box allows you to search in real time on any topic. Refresh your screen to see if you have the option yet, or take a look at our screen shots below.

Twitter Begins Rolling Out Search and Trends – ReadWriteWeb

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Facebook’s “In-House Sociologist” Shares Stats on Users’ Social Behavior

Posted by andreaitis on February 27, 2009

Digital + Sociology = Digitology.  An interesting start…

However, in a recent interview with The Economist, Cameron Marlow, a research scientist at Facebook, shared some interesting stats on Facebook users’ social behavior patterns.

His findings: while many people have hundreds friends on Facebook, they still only communicate with a small few. Or to quote the author of the article, “Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever.”

Facebook’s “In-House Sociologist” Shares Stats on Users’ Social Behavior

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