Monday, November 5, 2007

Twitter, Take Two!

Obviously I was again kinda late to 'discover' Twitter. It seems there are about half a million Twits active today. New members are being added at the rate of about 2000 a day! An interesting site to learn about all this is Twitter Facts that has done some interesting analyses of the Twitter phenomenon.

One analysis explores the 'long tail' behavior of the stats relating to Twitter. Let's call a person with a Twitter account a Twit. Three interesting concepts are being analyzed: the followers (number of Twits following the postings of one particular Twit), the following (total number of Twits that one particular Twit regularly follows) and updates being the total number of postings a Twit has published. Twits with many followers are called "whales". Twitter Facts discovered a long tail behavior in almost all types of statistical graphs (followers, following and updates) which in itself is quite interesting and probably relates to the ways humans socialize.

One of the most popular whales, Brian Shaler published a short article about Dunbar's number. See here an excerpt:

Thanks to popular social networking services like Twitter, Facebook, etc., users can communicate with others much more efficiently. Before this technology, an avid socialite would have a limit to the number of people he or she could communicate with. Now, there is no limit. On Twitter, the “whales” (people with large numbers of contacts) have thousands of followers. On Facebook, they are hitting the maximum limit of 4,999 friends. With high efficiency communication platforms, there is practically no limit to the number of people a “popular” individual can communicate with.

What happens to someone when they talk to thousands of people at a time? If you wait in line to talk to this person or if you are a small voice in a large crowd of people clamoring for the attention of this person, are you going to be able to have a meaningful interaction? With all the noise, will you have a strong enough signal to hold a conversation of much significance?

Makes you think what the point is for someone to be following more than 150 people, Internet facilitated or not. If Dunbar was right then something is wrong with some Twits following hundreds of other Twits. And if they are stupid enough to get notified with SMS about new postings then I'd like to be their mobile operator...

One interesting site is that publishes ranks of twits based on their number of followers. Visit them and take a look at the top ranking list. See how many celebs appear there of whom I guess there are plenty of wannabe fakes. For instance, Bill Clinton must be one like this...

On the other side, Barack Obama and John Edwards seem legitimate. I am not so sure about Steven Colbert though. He seems pretty crazy to be citing his own one-liners for kicks. Like "Hey, America, are you thinking what I'm thinking? You soon will be." Posted last April... quite prophetic if you think that he recently made public his intent to run for President... If Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger could make it, why not Colbert. Or Jon Stewart for that matter?

A great Twit favorite is iJustine, of course. In her early twenties, she's been quite a web celeb with her blogs and YouTube clips. IMHO her most hilarious clip is the one where she sobs and pleads to the world to leave Steve Jobs and Britney Spears alone...

Another Net celeb is Dave Winer, the legendary inventor of 'Blogging' and 'RSS'. And of course, another FSJ. And the Asian character who carries a camera mounted to his ear and keeps filming his life 24x7... and finally, a fake Borat...

If you decided to become a Twit, try TwitterWhere, that will help you discover other nitwits like yourself in your neighborhood. It's not terribly accurate but it works.

No comments: