Tweet For Your Supper

October 21, 2009

The article “Comcast: Twitter has changed the culture of our company” provides interesting anecdotal evidence of a trend that could change the nature of employment for future generations.

According to Comcast CEO, Brian Roberts,  Twitter has – as you may have already guessed – changed the nature of his company.

Comcast has for a while now been using Twitter to scan for complaints and engage with customers. The idea was not his, but rather rose organically when someone in the company realized that a lot of public complaints were being sent over Twitter.”

Now the company employees people specifically to work on the site:

Frank Eliason (Comcastcares on Twitter), now has 11 people working under him simply to respond to information about Comcast being broadcast on Twitter.”

Interest from younger generations in traditional communications and entertainment models is fading fast, while they flock to the internet and websites like Twitter and Facebook. Companies are guaranteed an immediate, engaged and active audience.

This could be a very good thing for the younger generation. Tides of young people are graduating in an increasingly hostile economic environment, and such websites could generate a multitude of new jobs – jobs which offer opportunities for graduates to be innovative and creative. Moreover, the younger generation have grown up with these websites – they already have the skills they need to exploit the websites – from hours spent networking with friends and family.

However, this raises other issues, particularly in areas like the ‘digital divide’. Are people that cannot afford the technology going to become increasingly marginalized in a new media society? Will Generation X struggle to produce marketing campaigns that are relevant to a younger generation or will they thrive and adapt?

If things continue the way they are going, this graph suggests such problems could prove to be pivotal for people looking to make the move into the workforce over the next decade:

The rising level of social networking related jobs

The rising level of social networking related jobs

Credit: Indeed.com

Twitter tells us everything we didn’t want to know about a person. You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly – intimate knowledge that would take years to achieve through a friendship can be gleaned in a single click.

Which is why Twitter might actually be a curse for the world’s celebrities.

Public relations agents carefully craft public statements, choose designer outfits and airbrush photos of their clients. We are made to feel that celebrities lead a fantasy existence that is far out of reach to most of us mortals.

However, all this painstaking work can be undone in a single, untimely tweet.

According to an E! Online Article: “Is  Twitter Totally Overt For Celebs

“Hung’s Jane Adams (a doll we totally love) was caught dine-and-dashing at Barney Greengrass restaurant recently, via her stilted waiter’s Twitter account. Tsk-tsk, babe!”

Of course, when you take the same concept and apply it to YouTube and politics, the issues are a little more serious and the fallout even greater:

BET Co-Founder Apologizes for Stuttering YouTube Attack.

N.B After writing this post, a few weeks later this article – “Actors banned and censored on Twitter by Film Studios” surfaced. Basically, it seems that major studios are cracking down on how much their actors use twitter:

actors have new clauses in there contracts that prevent them from using social media sites. The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog reports that both Disney and Dreamworks have already added the clauses to their talent contracts.”   

 

 They may be adamant that this is simply to prevent important information from ‘leaking’ but I would suggest there is more at stake than that. It seems that companies with a ‘family friendly’ image are worried that their squeaky clean teen stars – Miley Cyrus and so on – could be tarnished by a wayward Twitter post.

Celebrities on Twitter

Celebrities on Twitter

Photo: Lafayette Twestival 2009

Tweet What You Eat

October 7, 2009

No more Jenny Craig, Atkins or Diet-Coke and Lettuce Leaf diets. The newest fad to sweep the dieting world is ‘Tweet What You Eat‘, an online way of tracking how many kilojoules you consume in a day.

Basically, Tweet What You Eat is an online food diary where each day you enter every single thing that you eat. There is a database with the approximate kilojoule value of most foods – so you can keep track of how many kilojoules you’ve had in a day. Not only are your dieting successes and failures laid out in front of you – but are available for all online members to see. Not to worry though: there is forum to pool dieting tips and get advice.

The Telegraph claims that the application has more than 8,000 followers:

including Stephen Fry, who has reportedly lost six stone in six months, and Little Britain star Matt Lucas, who says he has lost half a stone in a fortnight.”

I did a bit of research, and according to the article Weight Loss: Bad Habits that Pile on the Fat, the two biggest problems for dieters are:

1. Underestimating how much you’ve eaten

Studies show overweight people tend to underestimate significantly how much they eat, and the bigger their portions, the more their calorie calculations go off track.

2. Discounting the effects of peer pressure

Findings from the Framingham Heart Study reveal that when one person in a family or network of friends gains weight, others tend to gain weight too, perhaps because it becomes more socially acceptable to be chubby.

Tweet What You Eat addresses both of these problems which is perhaps why its popularity has become so immense in such a short time since its inception.

Whether it will have long term success once the novelty wears off is debatable. It certainly demonstrates however, that more and more of our everyday life is taking place on online.

Songs lyrics hailing to broken Myspace romances (I couldn’t help but laugh at the line ‘internet grass is always greener’), television shows flaunting Facebook aficionados. No doubt, social networking websites have long since made their bumbling debut into the realms of popular television and music.

But curiously, it seems high culture has not been immune to these internet phenomenons.

Credit: Channel Four News

Twitter Opera Singers

Credit: Channel Four News

Yesterday saw the launch of the first ‘Twitter opera’, comprised solely of the contribution of Tweets from random users to a single Twitter webpage.

“…the volume of tweets has generated enough content for a seven-act opera, said ROH spokeswoman Sara Parsons.”

Whether the opera will gain the accolades of the critics, only time will tell. The first reviews are only just starting to come in.

I personally have mixed feelings about the idea. Full marks for creativity, but at the same time, it feels like the phenomenon of the internet has invaded just about every aspect of our old lives, to the point where nothing is sacred.

At the moment, it looks as though a sequel is not out of the question – so if you fancy yourself a budding composer, you can contribute your tweets at: www.twitter.com/youropera

Tweet Psych

August 28, 2009

If the preceding post picqued your interest I was amazed to come across this site – which generates full personality profiles on people according to their online tweets!

Photo: YesButNoButYes.com

Tweetpsych

 

Anthropology

August 28, 2009

Pottering amongst Twitter profiles, I’ve started to realise that not every Twitter poster is the same.

Indeed, in just a single visit you will come across a myriad of exotic and sometimes just plain bizarre online personas.

Some of today’s observations:

The ‘Lovebird: This one is self explanatory – the twitterer uses their account as primarily (or singularly) as a means of communication with their significant other. Mundane and often squeamish for anyone other than said significant other.

The Diarist: What they ate for breakfast.  The seat  they sat on in the bus.  How many seconds they reheated their dinner for in the microwave. You get the picture.

The Political Buff: A visit to one of  these twitter sites will assault you with more political propaganda than election day.

…And my favourite:

The Senior Twitterer: No further explanation required.

Recent hacking attempts on websites Facebook and Twitter made headlines worldwide, when hackers launched a massive coordinated attack overwhelming servers with communications requests.

Turns out the whole thing boiled down to a petty dispute between some computer geeks in Abkhazia, caught up in the current conflict between Georgia and Russia.

In order to prevent one user posting some provocative tweets, they took with them at least a few hours of precious posting time from internet addicts all over the world.

This kind of incident shows not only the vulnerability of these websites to the most elementary of attacks but also the vulnerability of the posting public.

No doubt these websites have the resources and revenue to develop defence systems that will one-day outsmart the most astute of hackers and computer geeks.

In the meantime however, it appears the public has so widely come to rely on tri-hourly blogging, twittering and status-updating that an equivalent attack in six months time could have disastrous effects. Widespread withdrawal systems. Panic Attacks. Friendships ruined, families torn apart.

Maybe not to that extreme. But in all seriousness, this families business was seriously affected by the ‘blackout’:

Lev Ekster

Lev Ekster and His Cupcakes

Credit: The New York Times/Suzanne DeChillo

For Lev Ekster, who runs a mobile cupcake truck called CupCake stop in New York, Thursday’s twitter hiccup meant no tweets to customers and fans on  the truck’s locations and the day’s flavors.”

Their conclusion? Not to put all your eggs in one basket:

“As soon as I saw the twitter outage, I went  on to our Facebook fan page,” said Ekster.

(Story courtesy of the Jakarta Post).

Tweet, Tweet

July 29, 2009

Twitter is regarded by skeptics as creating a menagerie of precocious and narcissistic tweens, teens and twenty-somethings who would rather chirp about the woes of their lukewarm latte (over their iPhone, of course) then pick up The Australian in the morning.

This article by ‘The Examiner’ suggests that the Chinese government considers these sites in a very different light.

In an age where every citizen is a journalist, and every iPhone is a publishing pad, these websites have the potential to provide people in remote countries and under repressive governments a thoroughfare to the outside world.

Lets hope sites like Facebook and Twitter  can find ways around these kinds of censorship so the tweets of  those in particularly small cages find their way into the cyber-world.

Caged Bird

Bird in a Cage

Credit: Wikipedia Commons