Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

The new celebrity eulogy: RIP Brittany Murphy @Twitter

Posted by andreaitis on December 21, 2009

Shortly after reports surfaced of Brittany Murphy’s death, celebrities came out of the woodwork to express their shock, sympathy and sorrow.  It wasn’t for Access Hollywood or ET, it wasn’t even for TMZ.  No lights, no makeup, no PR flack standing by mouthing along with the pre-written  “Hollywood lost a bright star too soon” obligatory condolence line.

Celebrities took to their keyboards and, in 140 characters or less, responded in a natural – yet somehow uncomfortable – display on Twitter.

Ashton Kutcher actually dated Brittany Murphy.   Here’s his twitter message:

ashton kutcher on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-16-10 AM

Ashton Kutcher on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

So, kind of cool to see Ashton’s acknowledgement, but also kind of…shallow.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nicely written with sincerity and all, but this is all Brittany gets from someone who dated her?  He did dedicate two tweets to her, so I suppose that’s something.

Alyssa Milano worked with Brittany once.  Only once and it was six years ago, which may explain why she spells Brittany as Brittney.

alyssa milano on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-19-35 AM

Alyssa Milano on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Russell Simmons met Brittany a really long time ago, before she was even famous.  That’s probably why he spelled her name wrong.

russell simmons on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-44-21 AM

Russell Simmons on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

I’m all for Twitter, all for eliminating the line between celebrity beings and human beings.  So, on the one hand, it’s encouraging to see the rich and famous speaking out on their own terms.  On the other hand, though, it seems disrespectful to spell her name wrong.   Not typo wrong, but  can’t-be-bothered-to-look-it-up wrong.  At least Kim Kardashian is honest about what Brittany Murphy meant to her (while still spelling her name wrong):

kim kardashian on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-42-44 AM

Kim Kardashian on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

I much prefer when celebrities make typos like us regular people.  You can tell  Shaquille O’Neal heard the news and just twittered this simple message in reaction.  Name spelled correctly?  Check.  Natural typos?  Check. The Real Shaq, keepin’ it real:

shaq on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-21-25 AM

Shaq on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Like Shaq, Alicia Silverstone seemed to twitter her simple, natural reaction.  Silverstone starred in Clueless with Brittany Murphy.

Alicia Silverstone on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Alicia Silverstone on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

The following twitter messages also felt genuine on first read.  The celeb twitterers seemed to put more thought into who Brittany Murphy was, and what her death means.  They gave the impression they actually knew her, creating a sense of intimacy with these few short words.

peter facinelli on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-17-51 AM

Peter Facinelli on Brittany Murphy

fred durst on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-40-28 AM

Fred Durst on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

But, here’s the thing: on re-reads, those messages lose their power.  Twitter is about impulse and initial reaction; messages are of the moment and not necessarily meant to stand the test of time.  Sometimes, though, they do.   Without doubt,  the most memorable Brittany Murphy twitter message came from a most surprising source, one who many thought would have been the subject of this kind of news rather than a twitterer of it:  Lindsay Lohan.

Lindsay Lohan on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Lindsay Lohan on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

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Posted in Entertainment, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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 »

Why he's screwed: 9 holes in the Tiger Woods story

Posted by andreaitis on November 30, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 17: In this handout fro...

Image by Dom Furore/Woods Family via Getty via Daylife

I’ve been following the Tiger Woods real-time twitter stream on TweetDeck, and it’s a mix of speculation:

RT @bdei80 What is the deal with Tiger Woods? What is he trying to hide?


RT @israeljsmith  I love Tiger Woods response to all the hype around his minor car accident….no response! More stupid “news” should be dealt with this way!

and jokes:

RT @FantasyFreaks: “What do Tiger Woods & Baby Seals have in common?…They both get clubbed by Swedes.”

What it is not is dwindling.   Here’s why:
9 reasons  Tiger Woods is screwed

1. He crashed into a fire hydrant… and a tree… in a Cadillac SUV… just outside his driveway… going less than 30 mph… at 2:30 am. Umm.  What?

2. His wife was running around with a golf club. The irony, the metaphor…that visual alone will keep this story going.  Are his golf clubs just lying around the house?  Are they by the front door in an umbrella stand?  How did she get the golf club, and which club was it?

3. After the accident, his agent quickly issued a statement saying Tiger’s fine.  Too quickly. That was clearly a wishful attempt to do early damage control.  Points for trying but that shot backfired, and the initial “He’s fine'” soon seemed ike a desperate attempt at cover-up.

4.  His alleged mistress hired super-attorney Gloria Allred. Not only did she hire her but she immediately flew out to LA to meet with Gloria, and there was even a caught-on-camera  airport arrival hug.  For those of you who don’t remember, Gloria Allred represented Nicole Brown Simpson’s family during OJ’s murder trial.  She also represented Paula Jones in her sexual harassment case against former president Bill Clinton.   And she wrote a letter to California’s Child Protective Services asking them to investigate the safety of Michael Jackson’s children.   That Gloria Allred.   If there is nothing to the allegations, why would Rachel rush into the arms of such a high-profile lawyer?

5. He’s refusing to talk to the police. If there’s a simple explanation wouldn’t you just talk to the cops, hold a press conference,  tweet about it, appear on Jimmy Kimmel, end the speculation and move on?  Sure you would.  Tiger’s silent treatment means there is no simple explanation.  And that means it’s complicated, which brings us back to his wife Elin, Rachel Uchitel, the golf club and the National Enquirer story.

6. His statement was oh-so-carefully phrased. “This is a private matter.” See number 5.   If this was something to make light of and toss away, he would have done so.  Instead, Tiger’s statement only emphasizes the severity of the situation.

7.  The National Enquirer is supremely confident of this story. That’s always a bad sign. They cite polygraphs, on-the-record sources, and a thorough investigation. All to show this is not a frivolous story, and this is not malicious disregard for the truth (an early strike against possible libel or defamation charges).  The last time the National Enquirer was so sure of itself?  When they nailed John Edwards for nailing Rielle Hunter.  We all remember how that went down.

8. Tiger Woods is smug. Like John Edwards,  a smug guy with an attractive and supportive wife taking up with a wacky broad.  People don’t like smug.  They don’t like A-Rod, Roger Clemens, Brett Favre,  Mark Sanford, and even Barack Obama. In fact, Tiger Woods is the Barack Obama of golf.  Or maybe Barack Obama is the Tiger Woods of politics.   Smug is part of what makes athletes and politicians successful in their competitive arenas, but it makes everyone else feel inferior.  As petty as it may be, people like to take the smug ones down a peg or twenty.    You might be the best golfer in the world, you may be a kajillionaire, but you’ll be sleeping on the couch just like the next guy.

9. This wasn’t supposed to happen to Tiger Woods. Smug or not, Tiger is a self-made superman.  No steroids, no cheating (on the golf course, at least), just years of focus and practice to hone his unbelievable talent.  We all remember the video of a 2 year old  Tiger on the Mike Douglas show with his dad.  We watched Tiger grow up, cross boundaries, step through media quagmires to come out on the other side as a respected family man.   He now says  “I’m human and I’m not perfect.”  Well, it’s a little too late for that.  If Tiger Woods implodes, what heroes do we have left?   This crack in his stoic image leaves us wondering: What makes Tiger tick?   And if Tiger — who seemed to have everything — can’t hold it together, what hope is there for the rest of us?

[youtubevid id=”_wHkA_983_s”]

Posted in sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Sarah Palin's new Twitter page is a mess

Posted by andreaitis on November 10, 2009

This is Sarah Palin’s brain on Twitter.   If it looks like a cluttered mess, don’t adjust that dial — you’re seeing it properly.  And that blank white space in the middle?  Oh, yeah, that’s where the thoughts are supposed to be.

sarah palin usa on twitter 11-10-2009 1-04-59 PM

You can follow the former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate at

Who knows, maybe she’ll retweet @SenJohnMcCain

Posted in Politics, technology | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

World's first dedicated Twitter device now available. Because this is what the world needs.

Posted by andreaitis on November 3, 2009

Get a look at Twitter Peek while you can.

Get a look at Twitter Peek while you can.

The guys at Twitter apparently thought this was a good idea.  They partnered with Amol Sarva, founder of Peek Inc. , to build a new mobile device only for Twittering.  This is a variation of Peek’s other device, a “simple gadget allowing you to send and receive email while you’re on-the-go.”    Kind of like a mobile phone  minus the phone, calendar, address book, web browser, alarm clock….you know, all the other useful parts.

Anyway, the Twitter + Peek collaboration led to a version  of the Peek device exclusively  for sending tweets.

Clad in “Twitter blue,” the TwitterPeek allows all the same functionality of a desktop Twitter client – reading tweets, sending tweets, replying, retweeting and direct messaging – only it gives users that access on the go.

It’s really nothing new, though. Most new smartphones have access to Twitter. Sarva said the TwitterPeek is built for consumers looking for an affordable alternative to expensive smartphones with higher monthly fees. The TwitterPeek sells for $99 with a $7.95 monthly fee or $199 with a lifetime of service.

via The First Mobile Device Dedicated Exclusively To Twitter – Venture Capital Dispatch – WSJ

I have two questions:

1. Anyone remember the AOL Mobile Communicator?

I still have  one.  It doesn't even work all that well as a paperweight.

I still have one. It doesn't even work all that well as a paperweight.

2. Anyone still using the AOL Mobile Communicator?

[chirp. chirp.]

I rest my case.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Google's social search circle jerk

Posted by andreaitis on October 27, 2009

This March 25, 2008 file photo shows the sign ...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Everything’s coming up search (again):  context and filtering through real-time search,  Twitter search,  social  search, Friendfeed,  people-powered search, etc etc.

So when Google launched its Social Search project in G-Labs yesterday, I was pretty excited to check it out.   I was all set for the test drive:   in one tab,  I clicked over and joined the experiment;  in another tab, I opened search  jedi master Danny Sullivan’s thorough review of Social Search.

One thing I love about the new service is how it makes use of the “social circle” term rather than “social graph,” a phrase more popular in 2007 and 2008 but which doesn’t really explain much to people. Social circle makes sense — these are people you are connected with. They’re in your “circle” of friends.

So far so good. I agree about use of the phrase Social Circle.   I never really understood Social Graph, and now I no longer have to  nod along in faux deep concentration while someone blathers on about the Social Graph.   So thank you for that, Google.

But how does Google know what your social circle is, in order to produce the social search results? Three methods, the company told me, when I talked with Google about the service:

* Your Google Reader account

* Your Google Chat / Gmail Contacts

* Your Google Profile

Okay, I read this part thinking ‘check, check, and check.’   I’ve got all that.  And then I did some testing.   Lame.  Hardly any social search results.  After the first few searches, I realized my downfall:  I have all that and more.  Multiple email addresses, some from way before Gmail existed.   My Gmail account never became my primary email address, and that is my social search downfall.  According to fellow T/S’er Kashmir Hill, it may also bring me domain shame and detract from my cool-ness, but I can live with that.   What I can’t live with is this Social Search limbo.

Do I need to change my email addresses at Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed and  Flickr (to start)?

What if I merge my other email addresses into Gmail, will that solve my social search situation?

What about my email domain through Google Apps?

Is this yet again Google’s way of making me bow to its omnipotence on its march to world domination?

Am I just completely socially searchingly inept?

Head over to the Google lab and try social searching here.  My self esteem and I look forward to your feedback.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Washington Post crisis of credibility continues (but don't Twitter that)

Posted by andreaitis on October 5, 2009

“If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.”

That used to be the Washington Post’s ad campaign.

Ironic, huh?

Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote a piece yesterday in response to the Post’s anti-social media guidelines for reporters.  The title, Do Ethics Guidelines Threaten Freewheeling Social Media?, suggests these rules are about ethics.  They’re not.

It would have been fine if Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said only this:

“What you do on social networks should be presumed to be publicly available to anyone, even if you have created a private account,” the guidelines warn. “If you don’t want something to be found online, don’t put it there.”

But he didn’t.  That good, basic common sense was just part of the guidelines that Brauchli summarized in a staff memo:

“Reporters and editors should not express views that can be construed as political, nor should they take sides in public debates.

There are prohibitions against “writing, tweeting or posting anything — including photographs or video — that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.” The guidelines “apply to all Post journalists, without limitation to the subject matter of their assignments.”

I presume Brauchli is okay with this memo making the rounds.  If not, he wouldn’t have written them in an email, right?  Here, though, is the final kicker in Alexander’s column:

To Brauchli, the policies speak to neutrality, which he told me is “essential to maintaining our credibility.”

Neutrality is not the only thing essential to maintaining credibility. Transparency is also essential.  Authenticity, an open dialogue and an open mind to how news happens in today’s world.  And these policies contain more neuter than neutrality.  Newsweek’s Dan Lyons is currently engaging in a conversation right here on True/Slant as journalism students dissect one of his columns.  If Dan worked at the Washington Post, he’d be violating their “prohibitions.”

You’d think the Washington Post would have learned something from the off-the-record exclusive access for cashola lobbyist scandal.

I guess it’s true.  If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Can Twitter learn from AOL's mistakes?

Posted by andreaitis on September 9, 2009

Biz Stone

Image by Joi via Flickr

When a business’ growth chart looks like a hockey stick, it’s sometimes hard to keep up.   In the case of Twitter, co-founder Biz Stone describes the incredible upswing as  “growing like gangbusters.”   I like that description.  There’s inherent joy and wonder in those words, and the Twitter team certainly deserves to revel in their 20 million users (according to ComScore) for at least a minute or two.  As they do, though, the revenue chant continues to grow.  A business is, after all, a business.  And it goes to reason that 20 million users oughta translate into some kinda cash flow.

Yesterday,  Stone announced that Twitter plans to add services for businesses to generate revenue in Q4 ‘o9.

The products might include an “analytics dashboard” to help companies monitor Tweets about their business, or verified corporate Twitter accounts, Stone told reporters yesterday at an event in Mexico City…  Companies using the service to communicate with customers may be willing to pay for added features, Stone said.

The paid services would probably be offered on a limited basis at first, Stone said. He didn’t say how much they will cost or how much revenue they could generate.

via Twitter to Generate Revenue as Site Grows Like ‘Gangbusters’ –

Fair enough.  The Twitter team strikes me as a smart and thoughtful bunch.  When they first started growing and fail whale sightings were far too frequent, Twitter  bought the Summize team to increase their development prowess.  I’d be skeptical of a knee-jerk revenue plan.   I think this steady progress is encouraging.

Three points in the story caught my eye, though.

1. Stone said the company has a goal of expanding from about 65  to 100 employees this year. Sixty-five employees.  Sixty-five!  That sounds like a lot to me.   Summize had 5 employees, so that purchase didn’t increase their Twitterage by much.  And a when the Guardian reported from Inside Twitter HQ six weeks ago, the staff number was 52.  Sounds like some explosive growth is happening inside the company, too.

2.  Twitter has 20 million users.  Not all of them actively engaged, but in Dr. Evil terms that’s still 20 meeeellion users.  When I joined AOL in 1997, they were just hitting 10 million.  I remember because I was a contractor at first, and I didn’t get the 10 Million Member plaque.  At its peak, AOL had 30 million members, and in 2007 it was back down to 10 million.   I think entire college courses can be taught on the rise and fall of AOL, and the continuing revisioning.   Communication was AOL’s initial and longstanding core; Twitter might learn a few things about how to handle their future by looking at AOL’s past.

3.  Stone also said they’re “working on a project to help new users discover others who might have similar interests or who live nearby.”    That gave me a Wayne and Garth back-to-the-future flashback:  AOL. 2002.  Match Chat.

I was managing AOL’s community products in those days, and we were trying to make it easier for AOL users to discover others who shared their interests.  Sound familiar?  We created Match Chat, allowing people to search in real-time for other users chatting about specific topics, along with relevant chat rooms.   Instantly connect with others who share your interests.   Here, I dug up a pic from  my files.


You could search on usernames, keywords or topics;  schedule a Match Chat and receive an alert or reminder; even invite others to Match Chat.  All in real time.   Pretty cool, right?  Epic fail.   Oh, it all worked and did what we said it would do, but no one was really interested at that time.  Of course, there are things I would try today that we didn’t do back then.  But seven years later, people  are much more adventurous and outgoing in their online interaction in large part thanks to Twitter.   We had a good idea but bad timing.

As Fred Wilson said in his post today,

“Don’t hide your failures. Wear them as a badge of honor. And most of all, learn from them.”

So, @biz, @ev and @jack: I learned a few things from AOL and Match Chat.  I”ve got some more screenshots and notes lying around.  Maybe even a PRD.  DM me if you want to (match) chat.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Big Brother to the rescue: Google helped Twitter fend off attacks

Posted by andreaitis on August 12, 2009

Verrrry eeenteresting.

Twitter cofounder Biz Stone will appear on the Tavis Smiley show tomorrow night. About 45 seconds into a preview clip from the interview, Biz says that during the most recent denial-of-service attacks on Twitter, the startup learned a lot about how to deal with such attacks in the future by working “with folks from Google.”

via Google Helped Twitter Deal With Attacks (GOOG)

[youtubevid id=”iRQ3CP0LNZQ”]

There’s been much speculation to date about a Google-Twitter union. That will only increase now that Facebook is aligned with Friendfeed.   Was Google simply showing  cyber-citizen goodwill by helping Twitter fight off the DoS attack, or is this a hint at what’s to come?

Either way, you might want to brush up on ‘It’s a Small World After All.’  And replace ‘Small’ with ‘Google.’

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

More to Love: Gettin' biggy with it

Posted by andreaitis on August 5, 2009

Fox’s new big-boned bachelor show More to Love happened to be on TV tonight while I was doing some work.  And I happened to not change the channel.   Which explains why – after a full hour of  big love – I sat in a state of perplexment, a new word I just created for this very situation.  You see, my involuntary post-show analysis includes observations that I may or may not share because they may or may not cross some line that may or may not exist.  What to make of a show with this self-proclaimed premise:

Luke Conley is a 26-year-old former college football offensive lineman who stands 6’3″ and weighs over 300 pounds. He’s a successful sub-contractor and real estate investor who has his sights set on building a long-lasting relationship. Luke’s ideal woman is intelligent, passionate, down-to-earth, full-figured and comfortable in her own skin.

This eligible guy will have the chance to find the woman of his dreams when 20 voluptuous ladies vie for his heart.

I needed a baseline, some way to gauge whether my reaction was within limits.  So I turned to the natural stream of conscience: Twitter.


These twitter messages pretty much sum up my reaction at any given moment during tonight’s episode.   I did, however, have a couple of additional points along with some puntastic song titles bouncing around in my head.  Suffer along with me for a moment, please.

Big Girls Don’t Cry.  Except when they do.  A lot.
As you might have picked up above, these girls aren’t just crying a river.  It’s practically a monsoon.   They all say they want someone to love them for who they are inside.  Ironically, they’ll get their wish.  When size doesn’t matter, it all comes down to what’s inside.  Luke’s definitely got a variety pack here.

[youtubevid id=”XflZ7qoWFQg”]

Hunka Hunka Burning Love.  Or Luke-warm Love.
He’s dorky, our Luke.  He favors expressions like Bring it on! and, uh, steak.  That’s what I learned about him.   I half-expected…okay, half-wished Luke would break into a rousing chorus of  “Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round.”   That didn’t happen, but he did manage to have a LOT of the women admit on camera that he was perfect and they were already falling in love with him after meeting him twice in large group settings.

Pay close attention to the video below.  Not hard to miss the Big Guy, but as a special bonus you might notice host Emme is wearing flip flops.  Flip flops!  Perez Hilton, you can have that one for free.

[youtubevid id=”_xdiKxnQY7Y”]

Some girls are bigger than others.  This one is not.
I only remember one woman’s name, Christian.  She had a really nice smile.   I seem to have created nicknames for the others as I watched:  the Catty One, the Punk Rocker, the Aggressive One, the Blonde One…you get the idea.  This video features Luke and the Blonde One, who seems to be on the less big side.  Size aside, watch their interaction and tell me if you don’t think “ick.”

[youtubevid id=”KoTu2RL7Njw”]

Love Shrinks.  And stinks.
Twenty women, one man.   Same basic premise as The Bachelor, but somehow very different.  Emotions are raw and right at the surface on day one.  The women are extremely honest, clearly putting a lifetime of hopes on this opportunity, this 26 year old guy.   I can hear Oprah now, telling them they must first love themselves.  Every rejection will be that much more painful — and there will be 19 of them. Nineteen women desperate for love will not find it with Luke.

I hope they’ll be cushioned when they fall.

Posted in Entertainment, technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »