Archive for Tweetwaffle

And the cart comes around

Twitter announced yesterday that various versions of TweetDeck, including the one I’ve used for five years, will be put out of their misery in the next few weeks:

To continue to offer a great product that addresses your unique needs, we’re going to focus our development efforts on our modern, web-based versions of TweetDeck. To that end, we are discontinuing support for our older apps: TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone. They will be removed from their respective app stores in early May and will stop functioning shortly thereafter. We’ll also discontinue support for our Facebook integration.

Reaction in my tweetstream was swift and negative. After all, this isn’t the first time Twitter bought something and then turned it into, um, something else. (There is no small irony in the fact that Twitter’s TweetDeck blog, where this announcement was posted, is on Posterous, which is also being killed.)

There will continue to be desktop apps for Mac and PC, we are assured, which if true means there’s a slight upside: I can get rid of Adobe AIR, the environment in which this old version of TweetDeck runs. (Any day I can get rid of something that Adobe updates at random intervals is a good day indeed.) Still, this new fancy-pants API of theirs had better be able to solve quadratic equations, wash the dishes and walk the damn dog.

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Some friend you are

As the kids say, +1 for this:

As a way to establish and maintain an identifiable on-line presence, I think Facebook is probably around for the long haul. I think there is research on this that says so. Facebook seems lately to have read that research, and come to a decision that it wants to move in on LinkedIn’s turf by offering people a work identity. This, I believe, is a mistake of enormous proportions. I’m basing that on a presumption that people use these tools the way I do, and that’s always problematic I realize. But I don’t want current work contacts to see me on Facebook. Maybe past co-workers, the ones who are kinda “cool.” But there is no reason to go mixing up these two worlds, and if I’m going to be pushed into it because that’s just the way the system expects me to use its services, then I’ll be on my way out too. That’s probably what’s been happening, since most Facebook inhabitants behave more-or-less the way I do.

I shan’t be pushed in this matter. I made a rule for myself about three minutes after signing up for a Facebook account, to the effect that under no circumstances would I accept friend requests from co-workers. (Mentioning this once or twice in front of carefully selected staffers has pretty much insured that I don’t get any, either.) Past co-workers, the ones who are kinda “cool” — no problem.

I can’t, of course, do a thing about Twitter other than hide the entire lot of 32,000 tweets, which is more trouble than it’s worth. And unless someone’s doing a better job of hiding than I’d have expected, I have exactly two Twitter followers from the shop.

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Updated to “Posthumous”

Twitter, which bought mobile-blog service Posterous last year for some preposterous sum, is now taking it behind the woodshed and shooting it:

On April 30th, we will turn off and our mobile apps in order to focus 100% of our efforts on Twitter. This means that as of April 30, Posterous Spaces will no longer be available either to view or to edit.

If you have stuff there, you have until the day before to retrieve it.

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Le Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie has now taken l’umbrage over the word “hashtag,” and while French Twitter users will not necessarily have Le Commission looking over their shoulders as they type or text, the government-approved term is now “mot-dièse”: “sharp word.”

This doesn’t sound so sharp to me, but hey, it’s France; they’ve got a language to preserve, after all, and un-French terms like “email” and “Quarter Pounder with Cheese” are just so déclassé.

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Unmitigated gallium

We’re all entirely too familiar with the phrase “all the good ones are taken.” Several times a week I hear from someone who wants a really good — and really relevant! — user name for Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram, or a short and snappy domain name. I used to inform them that the time to have asked for such a thing was N months ago, where N = more than they ever imagined. And it’s true even in highly specialized areas of interest:

So, you’re a chemist and you’ve finally decided to find out what all the fuss is about with this thing called Twitter. You decide to sign up, but, for whatever reason, you don’t fancy using your own name. Maybe an element; that would be cool wouldn’t it?

Indeed it would. But how many elements are there, anyway?

[T]here are 114 named elements (we’re ignoring those ununelementium placeholder names) to choose from. Surely some of the more exotic elements must be there for the taking? Well, no. Gone. All of ‘em.

“There may be many others,” said Tom Lehrer, “but they haven’t been discovered.” Fat lot of good that does you now, though.

And what about @gallium, anyway? He is a chemist, but not a very talkative one.

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Where all your time has gone

And by “your time,” I suspect I really mean “James Lileks’ time”:

Every day I encounter some site I like, but rarely promote to the daily bookmark. I find this interesting. Why wouldn’t I? Because it’s a peripheral interest, and I really don’t need to check up on someone’s vintage kitchen remodel for a month. If ever. So the list of secondary bookmarks grows and grows, until weeded out six months later after a cursory revisit. Each of these pages usually has a Facebook page. Never go there. Why would I?

I am something like that, though you should probably figure that if you read it here, I don’t consider that interest “peripheral.”

What I don’t like about all of this: the fragmentation of presence. If you just have Facebook, lucky you. If that’s what you want. But if you have a blog, you should tweet, and if you tweet, isn’t there a Facebook account and a Google+ account you might want to link to that? Ought not the Tumblr be chained as well, so all updates everywhere are sprayed across all possible platforms?

Short answer: no. Slightly longer answer: there are different audiences, at least in my case, for each of these platforms. (I don’t have a presence on Tumblr.) And nothing I say is so gosh-darn important that I have to push it out to everyone who’s ever heard of me.

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Quote of the week

Michele Catalano, on the joys of having your Twitter follower list decimated:

At some point after I all but ditched twitter, I realized I missed it, and had a little heart-to-heart with myself about it. What good was twitter for me? What did I enjoy about it before the million followers (which had now “dwindled” to about 920,000)? What was twitter good for.

Well, it was good for making friends, meeting new people, discovering how many talented people are hanging around the internet, getting to do stuff with some of those talented people, having friends to visit wherever we travel, telling offensive, horrible jokes and letting a million people know when I’ve gotten my period.

There it was. I joined twitter for the conversation, for the ability to connect with people who enjoyed the same warped sense of humor, people who liked hockey and baseball, people who enjoyed talking about music and people who liked to banter back and forth, to engage.

My own interests vary a bit, but my motivations are precisely the same, apart from that whole “period” bit.

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One foot in the tweetstream

For some reason, Twitter offered me a deal on ad space:

In support of the Shop Small initiative this holiday season, Twitter is giving away up to $1MM in free advertising to businesses, and you’ve been selected to receive $100 in Twitter ad credits. In order to redeem the credit, you must enter valid billing information and begin advertising on Twitter by December 31. Any charges you incur for advertising over the $100 offer will be charged to the payment method entered at the time you set up your Twitter ad campaign.

Other than toss up thirty thousand tweets, I have no idea what I did to deserve this. I know people with greater volume and far more of a following who didn’t receive such an offer.

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Of late, there have been some weird delays in getting everything loaded up here, and while it’s easy, even instinctive, to blame SiteMeter, which has had several inexplicable outages of late, the real culprit most of the time is Twitter, whose widget I’d carefully rewritten to match the site design. They have announced that they’re dropping support for said widget Real Soon Now, and they’re pushing Embedded Timelines in its place. I have duly installed the contraption, and it does seem to load a little faster, which may be simply due to the fact that it’s less customizable. I do, however, find it disconcerting to see all these Mini-Me apparitions down the sidebar.

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They could almost be twins

Rainn Wilson tweeted this Monday: “I’m like Zooey Deschanel without the quirkiness, beauty or vagina.”

Replied Zooey: “Why? Did you get bangs?”

In response, Rainn put up a vintage photo of himself at around age 14.

You know what’s coming next, right?

Zooey Deschanel and Rainn Wilson as teenagers

On the left, one of Zooey’s high-school yearbook pictures; at right, Rainn’s vintage photo. In view of same, we find Mr Wilson to have made his case, or at least two-thirds of it.

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It’s a small brothel after all

A woman hands a book to the librarian. Only it’s not one of the library’s books:

She pulls out of her bag a beaten-up copy of Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho.

Lady: “You are a young girl. You are not an old fogey. Therefore I am not intimidated to tell you what the book is about.”

She leans over and whispers, “It’s … all … pornography.

[Librarian]: “Oh…my.”

Lady: “Do you know why men visit prostitutes?”

[Librarian]: “I don’t…I’m not really…”

Lady: “It’s not about sex. You’d be surprised.”

The librarian duly tweets about the experience.

Which tweet is promptly retweeted — by Paulo Coehlo.

Tipping her hat to this review — okay, I don’t know if she actually ever wears a hat, but work with me here — she announces that she’s going to read the book, once the library’s own copy is returned from loan.

Which got me thinking: do we, here in the Big Sanitary, have this book in our library? Yes, we do: two copies, one at the branch nearest to me, neither of them checked out at the moment.

Maybe I need to read this book, just to keep the momentum going. And no, it’s not pornography.

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Gimme a D

This is perfectly clean, in case you b minor:

Lame hashtag joke

(Snatched from the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Facebook page.)

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More than I can say

This is actually two, two, TWO gripes in one, but I didn’t want to break up the paragraph, so here’s at least some of Scott’s explanation for not doling out the free ice cream this week:

I also took a week off partly because generating content over rural cellular service, the 21st century equivalent of 300 baud dial-up, is bloody well painful in this here age of endless javascript loading up six social networking site feeds so you can see what the rest of the world is dribbling out and drooling over. Speaking of which, does it irritate no one else that sports, live sports, regularly devotes time away from the live sport you’ve tuned in to watch in order to have a hairdo read 140-character messages, which are also helpfully displayed on the screen, from the idiot masses about that sporting event? No? I guess it’s just me.

This latter, of course, is what I consider further justification for sports on the radio.

Along these lines, more than once (which I suppose equals “twice”) I’ve discussed the possibility of a @42ndAndTreadmill Twitter account with the sysadmin, and a few days back he allowed that he was planning on doing some experimenting with the Twitter API so the thing could be fully automated. I pointed out that we couldn’t automate everything, inasmuch as inevitably some folks would want to tweet back at us, and he decided that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.

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Sad commentary of the week

Possibly the year.

Adam Gurri’s Stories of Progress and Stagnation, which you should read even if it takes you all day, contains this wonderfully rueful sentence:

At Founder’s Fund, the venture capital firm at which [Peter] Thiel is a partner, they have a saying: “we wanted flying cars, and instead we got 140 characters.”

Feel free to tweet this.

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Non-D scripts

When I first had the unmitigated gall to stick Facebook share buttons on individual posts — I still haven’t done it on the front page, and likely won’t — I noted that the FB script merely displayed a logo, and I added the term “Share” to the template manually.

Facebook has since glued the word “Share” to the button, which meant that all 12,000-odd posts in this database had “Share” on either side of the logo. It didn’t take long to fix the template, so the posts will be corrected as the cached copies expire, but FB’s text size for “Share” is smaller than my default and therefore smaller than the “Tweet this” text next to the Twitter button on the next line, so I had to tweak that as well, but they still didn’t match exactly. Finally, I decided if we’re going to have dissimilar styles, we’re going to have completely dissimilar styles, and I installed the officially licensed Tweet Button. (Which is bigger, so nyah.)

I suppose there’s a way to do this for Google+, but Google prides itself on its incomprehensible documentation, so I’m not considering giving them a button any time soon.

Update: Got the Google+ to work. On the first try, even.

Further update: Also got the newer FB button, since the old one is facing extinction.

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140 or fight

Smitty, who’s done some A-level tweeting in his day, reminds us:

[Twitter i]s just a means to an end: communication. Bemoaning the constraints of the form is like whining about the rules of the sonnet.

I am not one of those people who resents having to fit something into a size or a pattern. One of the reasons those early Motown records were so great was that they were short enough to get out of their own way: until Marvin Gaye’s version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” the Gordy machine routinely chopped ‘em down to less than three minutes. Those editing jobs were sometimes clumsy, sometimes worse than that — see, for instance, the Supremes’ “Reflections” or “I’m Ready for Love” by Martha and the Vandellas — but rules is rules.

Of course, having once written an almost-sonnet, I’m not likely to grumble about having to make things conform to a specific format.

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Smart response

Literally so, in several senses of the word. Here’s a screenshot of the original Twitter discussion:

Twitter conversation between Clayton Hove and smart cars USA

They did indeed do the math:

How much crap does it take to damage a smart car?

“Tridion,” incidentally, is described this way:

Inspired by racecar roll cages, the reinforced high-strength steel tridion safety cell is engineered to be a barrier between you and pretty much anything else you might encounter. It evenly distributes crash energy so you’ll have peace of mind.

There are, as you might have guessed, three layers of steel involved.

As for Mr Hove, he was duly impressed with the response.

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Lileks explains it all

“It,” of course, being Social Media:

Facebook? Still no. I have the page, but don’t go there. My entire attitude towards Facebook is like a man who knows there’s a surprise party waiting upstairs in his apartment, and spends the evening in a bar, talking to a stranger. I get so tired of being asked to Like something or follow it.

I don’t mean to say I find social media annoying or useless: on the contrary. Facebook is too static. Too slow. Twitter is a stroll down a busy street listening to different conversations; Pinterest is a museum / thrift store / attic you can visit when you please. Facebook seems like hamming pitons in a sheer cliff wall and climbing up, up, up, for no particular reason.

That last bit may backfire on us: what’s to stop Zynga from setting up a time sink game called CliffVille?

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Late at the orifice

A plaintive tweet from danah boyd:

In an academic essay, I ref a blog post w/ ‘asshole’ in the title. Publisher wants diff cite. Where is George Carlin when you need him?

I’ve asked that a few times myself.

Brian Reich, suspecting that it might be this post of his, volunteered:

was it my post? If yes, I will tell the publisher it’s totally cool to keep it in there (smile).

It certainly looks like something pertinent to danah’s ongoing research.

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Following the Trend

Edward Loh’s editorial in the May Motor Trend is called “#bravenewworld,” and I admit to not taking it particularly seriously — until I looked over at the editorial masthead, as Loh suggests, and discovered that at least half of the names thereupon are accompanied by Twitter IDs. (Loh is @EdLoh.) At the very least, they’re not going to hide from us wired folk, which has got to be worth something these days.

This is what made me smile, though: they’re also on Pinterest.

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Narrower narrowcasting

Perennial D-Lister Kathy Griffin returns to Bravo this month with a primetime talk show called simply Kathy, and as you might expect, institutional print advertising for it contains Facebook and Twitter icons.

But the Twitter icon doesn’t mention a Twitter account for the show, or Kathy’s own account (@kathygriffin); it lists a hashtag — #kathy.

Given the growing tendency for hashtags to be hijacked, this may not be such a swift idea.

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Going three million NPH

One of the delights of being somewhat above the bare-subsistence level is being able to do wondrous things that don’t have any practical value at all.

The ever-genial Neil Patrick Harris wanted to do something nice for his three-millionth Twitter follower. He’d asked earlier in the week: “How would one quantify that? Is there some sort of log?”

Here’s how it was done:

First, we had to determine if the Twitter API would reliably return a list of NPH’s last 5,000 followers in reverse chronological order. We used three separate twitter accounts to follow @actuallynph at specific times, taking a screen grab of NPH’s follower counts at that time.

We then called the API multiple times over the course of an hour or so, to determine if the follower number remained constant for each test account, and that the distance in followers between the two also remained constant. They did.


[W]e called the API for NPH’s last 5,000 followers, and counted backwards.

And number 3,000,000 is Sarah Bates (@sarahbeep). Harris hasn’t yet announced the prize, though he’s hinted at a “ducky tie,” which would certainly be in character.

If anyone cares, I was somewhere around the 900,000th, which is why I was paying attention to this. For comparison purposes: Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (@mittromney) has about 400,000 followers; singer Rebecca Black (@MsRebeccaBlack) has about 600,000. I have been known to mention this statistic whenever someone shows up in my stream with a Mitt-eating grin.

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What is this I don’t even

All I know is that it was dropped into my tweetstream yesterday:

Bogus Walmart tweet

Oh, and that the Walmart-ish ID is fake. (Subsequently, Twitter saw fit to nuke that account; however, “Sharron” is still spreading wharrgarbl.)

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New cites to see

Paying attention to Twitter — or at least a tiny subsection of it — has provided me with rather a lot of material in the past couple of years, and I’ve cited rather a lot of tweets with the traditional blogoid “Via” line.

Doing it this way, however, falls well short of the style standards of the Modern Language Association, as updated for life (and research) in The Cloud. This is the preferred MLA structure:

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

    Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

If I ever again have to do any formal research, I’ll keep this in mind.

In the meantime, this is where I read about it.

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Tibial pursuit

Matt Stopera of Buzzfeed observed that “Angelina Jolie’s leg was the only exciting thing that happened at the Oscars,” which prompted me to go through the archives, and this turned up:

Angelina Jolie for GQ

Actually, you were just bullshot. The reason you’re getting this 2005 shot from GQ (thank you, Yariv Milchan) is that the leg in question — the right one — now has its own Twitter account, and, well, this is one of its niftier appearances, if you ask me, though there is of course no reason why you should.

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Bitter and static-clingy

Once again, Lamar Outdoor has kindly favored me with a giant billboard containing one of my tweets, but I’m damned if I can figure out why they chose this one:

Lamar outdoor tweet billboard

I mean, just consider the text:

Found a dryer sheet in the hallway. All kinds of possibilities present themselves, none of them interesting.

Admittedly, it was an office hallway, but it takes more imagination than I have to come up with an entertaining explanation for the presence of the discarded sheet.

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Unexpectedly Alevated

“Weird Al” Yankovic let it be known (via Twitpic) that he would be on 30 Rock, and, well, I was so moved that I left a question for him.

Which drew this response:

Screen shot from TweetDeck: A Fey accompli, is it?

I may never filter that TweetDeck column again.

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With an eye toward Linsertion

Linsanity — the obsession with New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin — has even reached Dr Ruth Westheimer, who issued several tweets relevant to her own career path:

For those missing out on Lin-sation because of TW-MSG no-deal, I propose you do your own scoring while Knicks are playing.

What might a good Lin position be? Pick and roll, where you turn over while together so he starts out on top and you switch places.

Back door play? You can figure that one out.

Just remember there’s no 24 second clock in your bedroom so I don’t want you guys stopping and popping too quickly now.

[Insert "flagrant foul" joke here.]

And come to think of it, Liz Claman thinks the youngster’s Linovations will force an end to the ongoing Time Warner/Madison Square Garden impasse.

(Via Basketbawful, which also features Hitler’s response to the arrival of the Linfantry.)

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Picture me (or don’t)

There was a brief period when I was swapping out avatars on Twitter on what seemed to be a daily basis. The one I finally settled on is one I’d used earlier, with just a hint of — yes, I admit it — ‘shoppery.

Of course, what I look like doesn’t matter a whole lot. Get into the public eye, and suddenly it’s a Matter of Colossal Import. Here are three shots of author Virginia Postrel, a favorite in these parts, each intended for a different audience:

Three photos of Virginia Postrel

Her own discussion of the matter:

In real life, I look more or less like the photo on the left, which is a candid of me accepting the Bastiat Prize. (I’m well lit and well coiffed.) The middle photo is the one I use most of the time as my “official” portrait and is, except for reversing the hands, a characteristic post. (My hair no longer has those post-chemo curls.) The one on the right is my Bloomberg photo, for which I had professional hair and makeup and unknown amounts of retouching. But, most important, the photographer refused to let me smile. No “smirking Girls” at Bloomberg View! (For another contrast, check out Amity Shlaes at Bloomberg View, in a candid lecture shot, and on her own website.) The expression isn’t my resting or serious face either; it’s more attractive. So the picture looks like I’m an actress playing someone else — the same physiognomy but a different personality.

In the past, I have suggested that the ideal photo of me is one in which I do not actually appear, or in which I am generally unrecognizable. (“Who the hell is that?“) After a few hours of enduring a 1978 picture of myself, I decided to install The Bird (see sidebar) as the official Gravatar, which represents me fairly well without actually showing me. Then again, I’m not a particularly public person, and no one is going to ask me for an Official Photo anytime soon. (What, isn’t the passport shot good enough?) In the unlikely event that I become semi-famous, I reserve the right to modify this stance.

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How to comprehend social media

This went over well on one of those networks, so I figured I’d port it over here:

Social media explained

As Rod Stewart used to say, “Every picture tells a story — donut?”

(Purloined from Marc Rotenberg’s Facebook page.)

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