Miley Cyrus News
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Okay, interesting enough, but Trending Topic? Hardly! At the time of this writing, there were only twenty postings that matched on a query of 'skateboarder wanted.' So how does a topic with so little interest become a Trending Topic?
To answer this question, let's start by taking a closer look at the results. Of the twenty matching posts, four of them were tweeted by a human, and the other sixteen were tweeted automatically from a feed service such as TwitterFeed.com. TwitterFeed is a terrific free service that Twitalytics uses to automatically submit our blog posts to Twitter. The way that it works is you set up an account with TwitterFeed and provide your Twitter account name and password. You set up a new feed by providing the address of the RSS feed you want to post from. You then set the frequency that you want TwitterFeed to check for new posts. Set it and forget it. It really is a very useful service.
But, as with many things, it is pretty easy to abuse this service. You see, even though the spirit of TwitterFeed is to enable you to tweet *your blog* -- you actually can tweet any blog or RSS feed. So let's return to our wanted skateboarder. That story was posted to Digg where it got enough interest to make it into the RSS feed for popular Digg stories. Now imagine a Twitter account whose only purpose in life is to re-tweet stories as they get published via RSS feeds from major sites such as Digg, TechCrunch, NY Times, CNN and so on.
Here is an example of four such accounts. @headlinenews, @headline_news, @top_news and @breaking_news. There are many others but I chose these as really good examples. What each of these has in common is the intention of tweeting news headlines from major news sources. The aggregation of the disparate sources combined to make a somewhat useful Twitter account. You can imagine that if you followed any one of these, you'd be getting a good cross-section of news stories as they occur.
The problem occurs when many people act on this idea and set up Twitter accounts for automated re-tweets of the same news sources. In the case of the skateboarder story, once the headline made it into the Digg feed, fifteen accounts (in addition to diggupdates who also tweeted the headline) re-tweeted the same exact headline. This barage of tweets dealing with the same subject in a narrow slice of time caused the phrase "Skateboarder Wanted" to achieve the status of a Trending Topic (though that didn't last very long). It really wasn't a hot topic nor did it ever become one (at least not on Twitter).
This phenomenon, which we're referring to as "Twitter Echo," occurs for most of the major news sources. The articles get published in their RSS feeds and then re-tweet accounts automatically multiply the post causing the terms in the headline to immediately spike as a Trending Topic. [Note: the phrase "Twitter Echo" has been used before but hasn't taken hold, so the terminology seems to remain up for grabs.]
Is Twitter Echo bad? Well, it creates additional noise in the system that for the most part isn't resonating with the Twitter audience. The four Twitter accounts mentioned above have a combined following of 516. That's not much. Twitter makes it very easy for a user to sign up for tweets from the news sources of interest that the user cares about. Is there really much added value from someone doing the work of news source aggregation? It's hard to imagine that there is.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Another exceptionally powerful tool is Twitscoop. This description is lifted from their about page: "Through an automated algorithm, twitscoop crawls hundreds of tweets every minute and extracts the words which are mentioned more often than usual. The result is displayed in a Tag Cloud, using the following rule: the hotter, the bigger (no joke here)."
Twitalytics could not do what it does without Twitscoop. And using Twitscoop inside TweetDeck is a very handy combination of functionality. One more tool that deserves mention is Twitstat which also offers a tag cloud of hot topics. To be sure, there are other Tweeters out there who are also using the tools described here to report back on the hottest topics such as @twitgeistr (uses Twitstat) and @trendingtopics but @Twitalytics aims to do something much more than just report the hot topics.
Regardless if you're looking at Twitter Search's Trending Topics, or Twitscoop or Twitstat, you're never getting the back story. If the word "earthquake" happens to be hot right now, do you know why? A hot word or phrase is actually of no value to you unless you know what is causing so much interest in that topic.
What all of these other services have in common is that they are powered by automation. Sophisticated algorithms comb through the Twitter stream culling out words and phrases that are occurring at an unusually high rate relative to all other words. Whether this gets reported back as a tag cloud or a simple list, the best that these algorithms can offer are the spiking words, not the understanding to explain the reasons for the spikes.
Twitalytics provides a service whereby a human rapidly performs enough research to quickly determine whether there's any importance to a spiking topic or is it just a statistical anomaly that's of no consequence. Then, upon determining that a hot topic merits the attention of our audience, we put an editorial voice to what is happening and explain why anyone should care.
Our Tweets are written as if our followers are getting these as SMS text messages on mobile devices. The goal of each Tweet is to provide enough information with the allotted 140 characters that we alleviate the need for the reader to have to visit a Web page to become informed. This is very different than how news services operate. They Tweet a news headline that usually provides a teaser but not enough information to offer understanding. This forces the user to visit the accompanying URL to get the complete picture. Twitalytics aims to deliver understanding, not teasers.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Yesterday, Paul Glazowski posted It’s Time to Give the Best of Twitter Some Pulitzers on mashable. The basic premise of his message is that amongst all of the millions of tweets are some real gems and they should be rewarded for their literary merits, their ability to entertain or their ability to inform. Absolutely agree! The benefit of any award program is that it encourages good behavior. In a world (a nod to Don LaFontaine) where people can write whatever they want so long as it is less than 140 characters, it becomes very difficult for the really good stuff to be heard above the noise.
It is the mission of Twitalytics to help pan the Twitter river for the gold nuggets that lie there if you just know where to look for them, or how. But once found, there really isn't an effective way to promote those who add genuine value to the overall experience. Paul mentions a site that is also attempting to reward good tweeting - Twitties.com and a commenter also notes Twitterbash.com. These sites have the right idea but not the visibility or traction it's going to take for the simple reason that they are disconnected from where the real action is taking place.
If a user is going to cast a vote for a tweet on any measure of value, they will want to do it immediately next to the tweet they just read. They should haven't to make a side trip to comment or rate a tweet ... it has to happen right there and in that instant. A no-brainer feature that I'm sure would catch on like wildfire is a link that lets you forward the tweet (retweet) to your followers. Like the Tweet? Just click the "retweet to your followers" button and boom it's done. You're followers got something you recommended. Perhaps an option can be offered to follow the tweeter that was passed to you with another click.
Tweeters whose posts are continually getting forwarded should get credibility points or "twitterbucks." These points could earn you special privileges such as more visible tweets, more interactive avatars or 20 extra characters per tweet? Options are endless.
Perhaps you can do a search of Tweets posted on a particular subject where the author has earned a certain number twitterbucks. This helps give some special recognition to those tweets viewed by the community as noteworthy.
And now for a shameless plug: in the category of most consistently helpful Twittering across the largest spectrum of subject areas, our nomination goes to none other than us Twitalytics.com, e hope you've been enjoying these tweets but as always want them to be more useful to our small but growing community.
Monday, September 1, 2008
2. msorensen: Spending my Labor Day working in the yard · View Tweet
3. rhjr: Spending Labor Day doing things I don't really want to do. And yes, they do involve labor. · View Tweet
4. jgderuvo: US turns over Anbar to Iraq. And nobody notices. · View Tweet
5. stevegrossman: is spending a half-productive, half-restful Labor Day. · View Tweet
6. formerglory: Spending Labor day laboring to put up shutters. Damn you Hannah. · View Tweet
7. starrynight256: Spending Labor Day watching Netflix movies, listening to NPR and playing poker. :) · View Tweet
8. tomhoobyar: Spending Labor Day in a Santa Cruz California coffee shop with my wife and my laptop, writing. · View Tweet
9. rebeccaburch: Is it ironic that I'm spending Labor Day frantically running around, trying to get stuff done that I don't have time to when I'm working? · View Tweet
10. Armano: Spending the remainder of labor day at beach and BBQ. As it should be. · View Tweet
11. foolishgames: i can't believe i'm spending my labor day cleaning house. : · View Tweet
12. LesleyRealtor: Spending Labor Day on Cape Cod. Beautiful day, hope you enjoy yours! · View Tweet
13. annabethblue: I'm going to spend my Labor Day spending all the money I've labored to get....on bills. :-\ · View Tweet
14. the_mighty_emem: spending labor day watching the monk marathon on usa. whoo hoo! no, seriously! · View Tweet
15. treesaregreen: kicking off labor day sans labor as it should be. · View Tweet
16. SamKnoll: While the rest of NC is spending Labor Day at the pool... we are going ice skating. Keeping cool either way! · View Tweet
17. garrettandjoy: Garrett is golfing with dad and two brothers (rarely happens), spending Labor day with Nudd families with picnic food, yum! Watching Gustav! · View Tweet
18. donhornsby: I am looking forward to spending time with extended family - and driving in the local Labor Day parade... · View Tweet
19. cherbert: Spending Labor Day here in London by going to work but hopefully some barbeque & beers later tonight. · View Tweet
20. s5: looks like I'll be spending Labor Day laboring. workers of the world, unite! · View Tweet
21. jasoncdukes: is watching the NASCAR race with Caleb. His friend Caleb is watching it with us & spending the night too. Happy Labor Day to all. · View Tweet
22. ToThink: Spending Labor Day weekend looking for labor. Updating resume, linkedin, etc. · View Tweet
23. jdcoffman: Want to know what's fun on Labor Day? Renaming your blog tags and adjusting the taxonomy on your blog. :-) · View Tweet
24. bluedepth: The Zoo was a wonderful way to spend Labor Day. Fueling up and Soda'ing up. No burns, hooray! · View Tweet
25. dougblackjr: is noticing no one really twitters on Labor day! · View Tweet
(editor's note: see above)
Search for more tweets on how we spent Labor Day on search.twitter.com
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Search for more Clemson v Alabama Tweets on search.twitter.com
We have also blogged seven times and this post will be number eight. An average of one a day ... our desired goal.
Another important metric to us is the number of people who follow us and the ratio of people who followed us organically vs the number of people who follow us simply because we followed them first. Roughly 15% of our current list of 97 followers found us organically.
On the blog, we've tried a number of different experiments to see what seems to work. Our most recent post of 25 little known facts about Sarah Palin has performed best so far. That's a format we're likely to repeat again.
SEO. A search for 'twitalytics' on Google now returns about 130 pages from their index that match on the word. Of those all but one are hits referring to something we tweeted or blogged. From a marketing and branding perspective, it is important that we completely own the word. So far we do.
What hasn't worked? We went out of the gate following 2000 people with nothing to show. Very few tweets, no blog, no bio. In hindsight, that was a huge mistake. When someone gets a "follow" notice, they are likely to check out who is following them before they return the follow. If you have nothing to show, you are not likely to get followed. We are now refollowing a small handful to see if the follow rate increases now that we have much more to show for our efforts.
Congratulations Twitalytics on a great first week. Keep up the momentum!!
Friday, August 29, 2008
2. darbydarnit: in the @dpkpr spirit, little known fact: sarah palin likes double mooseburgers with a side of moose mousse · View Tweet
3. barakmich: Little Known Fact: The Governator wasn't looking for Sarah Connor, he was looking for Sarah Palin · View Tweet
4. kidmarmite: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin let the dogs out. · View Tweet
5. Attitude: Little known fact: Sarah Palin has never lost a sock in the wash. Evildoers can no longer hide. · View Tweet
6. RedheadWriting: Little known fact: When Sarah Palin yells "Who's my daddy?!" at the RNC next week, McCain will raise his hand. · View Tweet
7. steezydeezy: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin and Chuck Norris together in one room would create a black hole! · View Tweet
8. lepas: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin destroyed the periodic table of elements.; the only element she recognizes is the element of surprise. · View Tweet
9. jtoeman: Little Known Fact: during the beijing olympics, Sarah Palin wore a Michael Phelps bodysuit just to add more gold medals to her collection · View Tweet
10. RedheadWriting: Little known fact: Nobody makes Sarah Palin bleed her own blood. · View Tweet
11. sueradd: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin cured Lance Armstrong's cancer. · View Tweet
12. egratto: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin wants more cowbell. · View Tweet
13. JonHenke: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin is reading every one of these LKF Tweets. And taking names. Don't make her mad. · View Tweet
14. portentint: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin was Jane Fonda's stunt double in Barbarella. · View Tweet
15. guan: Little known fact: Sarah Palin's Comcast connection is not capped · View Tweet
16. jppettinger: little known fact: Sarah Palin is Chuck Norris' mother. · View Tweet
17. egratto: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin was so disappointed to miss Burning Man this year for that silly, silly announcement event. · View Tweet
18. gilliatt: Little known fact: Sarah Connor learned everything from Sarah Palin. · View Tweet
19. dpkpr: Little known fact: Sarah Palin still feels guilty about eating the passengers who died in a plane crash atop an Alaskan mountain to survive. · View Tweet
20. guan: Little known fact: Sarah Palin made the lights go out in Georgia · View Tweet
21. myklroventine: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin knows when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, knows when to walk away and knows when to run. · View Tweet
22. johnnycho: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin is the one you hear coughing in every live classical music recording ever made. · View Tweet
23. AllAxisAjay: Little known fact: Sarah Palin is the walrus, goo goo g'joob. [sic] · View Tweet
24. miketrap: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin put the "bop" in the "Bop-shoo-bop-shubop." · View Tweet
25. davidparmet: Little Known Fact about Sarah Palin - her Second Life avatar has spikes · View Tweet
Search for more "little known facts" on search.twitter.com
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Over the course of my upcoming blog posts, I'll examine what motivates users to interact in this way, what can be accomplished in Twitter as an alternative to existing technologies and what new capabilities are made possible that didn't exist prior to Twitter. I'll also share some thoughts about what Twitter could become with the addition of a few feature enhancements.
For this first segment, let's look at the ever-present question Twitter asks of us:
What are you doing?
A couple of years ago, when Twitter was first demo-ed for me, I laughed out loud. Why on earth would anyone go out of their way to write something that no one would ever read? (Kind of like this blog post.) And if anyone did happen to read it, they surely wouldn't care. (I'm pretty sure I felt the same way about blogs when I first heard of them as well so I don't exactly have a great track record for seeing the possibilities when a technology first comes onto the scene.) Once value can be demonstrated, I'm generally a quick study.
Answering the question "what are you doing" and posting it for the world to see, or even just the group of people who follow me, didn't exactly rise to the level of demonstrable value for me. Consider the things I might have written on any given day:
- I'm showering
- I'm doing my morning walk
- I'm getting coffee at Starbuck's
- I'm driving to work
- I'm at my desk
- I'm dreading the project I have to begin
- I'm going to get lunch
- I'm back at my desk
- I'm wishing some people in my office wouldn't laugh so loud
- I'm looking forward to the end of the work day
- I'm leaving work
- I'm going to pick up my daughter from soccer practice
- I'm meeting a friend for dinner and a drink
- I'm writing in my blog
Folks, that was my day. Pretty routine and uneventful stuff if you ask me. Very meaningful to me, but I don't expect others to give a damn. Fourteen completely mundane statements of absolutely no consequence to anyone but me. And there you have what I'll refer to as the first Twitter archetype.
Twitter archetype #1 -- "status"
Posting a comment with no intended recipient and no expectation of a response.
I don't know about you, but where I grew up, we called this talking to yourself. Just picture yourself out for a stroll on a busy street, or in a shopping mall or perhaps in a restaurant. Anywhere that you're surrounded by people. And then suddenly, you speak out loud so everyone can hear you: "I have to go do my laundy." That may sound funny to you (it does to me) but that is exactly what is happening over and over again on Twitter.
The real value that comes from posting your status is very much like writing in a journal or a daily planner. What you write there is primarily intended for your own personal use. Once it gets written, it becomes real and it lives on beyond the moment you wrote it. Type #1 tweets are reminders, instructions to yourself, opportunities to vent and express your thoughts, feelings and opinions. Typically the writer doesn't care who is listening -- the post isn't meant for anyone. It just feels good to write it, and sometimes it feels better to write it publicly.
Often though, someone is listening. And sometimes they respond. I'll call this Twitter archetype #2 -- "copy that." It is a simple gesture that lets the writer know they were heard. I'll pick up at this point with my next post.
Wanna know what I'm doing? I'm going to sleep.
Monday, August 25, 2008
- Twitterland reactions to Ted Kennedy tribute - very touching
- Twitterland reactions to Caroline Kennedy - boring
- Twitterland reactions to Jesse Jackson - glowing
- Twitterland reactions to Jimmy Carter -- many were distracted by his creepy left eye
- Twitterland reaction to Nancy Pelosi not kind
- Retweet @dannysullivan: after nearly four years in the making, google suggest finally comes to the google home page http://snurl.com/3jqhe
- Chat and IM tool Adium releases ver 1.3 with chat support for Facebook.
- Tweeters enjoying new FriendFeed beta release
- Latin American pop star Daddy Yankee endorses John McCain for president
- US stocks tumble following disapointing housing report. DJIA down 2.1%
- Twitter speak: "fail whale" = Twitter is down
- Manchester United beats Portsmouth 1-0
- Usage of hashtags for group twittering on the rise. How? Include your group name in the Tweet. e.g. #groupname - use any name, then search!
- Seattle based travel site TripHub.com closes its doors
- 2008 Tennis US Open begins today at Billie Jean King National Tennis Stadium in Queens, NY
- Tropical Storm Gustav now blowing in the Caribbean. Forecasters say it could reach hurricane strength. Heading toward Haiti/Dominican Rep.
- Tweetrush.com goes live providing Twitter usage stats. Initial observations are positive.
- Tyson Foods to donate 100 pounds of food to Austin area food bank for every comment received on its blog.
- Rave reviews for "Playing for Keeps" - A superhero novel by Mur Lafferty. Solid five star reviews at Amazon (sold out).
- New Yorkers are buzzing about RideTheCity.com -- a new Google Maps mash-up that aims to provide safe bike driving directions
- The Democratic National Convention (#DNC08) officially begins tonigh at 5:00pm EST
- Southeastern United States under severe weather watch and tornado alerts
- Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson and three others survive plane crash in southeastern Ontario
- It's raining sideways in Georgia.
- From the journal "Science" by way of NY Times: Researchers at the Swiss Univ of Lausanne find we can smell danger - alarm pheromones we emit
- Online real estate search site Trulia releases mobile version.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
- USA Men's Basketball (The Redeem Team) won the gold beating Spain in the final.
- We're congratulating Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski for leading the men's b-ball team to gold and Doug Collins who was cheated out of gold in '72. Kobe Bryant got kudos for his clutch 4th quarter performance.
- Bob Costas interviewed IOC President Jacques Rogge
- Beijing Olympics became the most watched event in US history. 211million viewers on NBC Universal over 16 days.
- Two things stood out at the Olympics closing ceremonies: Jimmy Page playing "Whole Lotta Love" and everyone wanted to know why the drummers in the closing ceremonies wore bicycle helmets.
- As DNC attendees arrived in Denver, the chatter started building but much of it was folks stressing over where they're supposed to be or what they were supposed to be doing.
- Much was said about the altercation between protesters and Fox news crew.
- Michelle Obama arrived in Denver
- Tornados touched down near the DNC
- The House Bunny. Most thought it was very funny. Tropic Thunder, Dark Knight IMAX.
- Hawaii beat Mexico in Little League World Series 12-3
What we're doing:
- We went shopping at Wal-Mart and Target. It's back-to-school shopping time again.
- Many tweets about the perfect weather
- Folks broadcasting themselves on ustream.tv
- One person died, two seriously hurt when a light aircraft crashed onto the 7th hole of a golf course near Rand Airport in South Africa.
- In Moab, Utah, a small plane crashed killing all 10 people aboard shortly after take-off on Friday evening 22-Aug
- Kyrgyzstan: A passenger plane bound for Iran crashed on take-off in Bishkek, the nation's capital with about 100 people aboard
- Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf got more attention/praise a week after his resignation
- Two teens were injured in Clearwater, FL when their personal watercraft exploded. Their injuries were not life threatening.
- A 2 year old girl was found with her father (who was taken into custody) in Citrus County (Tampa, FL) hours after South Carolina issued an Amber alert announcing her disappearance.
- New Zealand golfer Danny Lee won the US Amateur championship at Pinehurst, NC. He is the youngest player to do so in 108 years.
- Sales of iPhones are expected to begin in Russia by October.
- From the UK: More than 160 significant incidents of confidential data misplaced by councils, govt and businesses
- Nine climbers went missing, and three more hurt after avalanche strikes near Mont Blanc in French Alps
- West Australian Liberal Party promised more schools and better pay during campaign launch in Perth today.