There’s always another obstacle

In this case:

Sometimes, that thin wire is all you have.

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Still nothing new under the sun

For example:

And by gum, al-Ghazali was right.

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Shortable stock

It is no secret that Twitter is losing money hand over fist. It’s easy, I suppose, to blame corporate governance, such as it is, but maybe there’s something else at work:

My thought is that for every new person who tries to express coherent thoughts in bursts of 140 characters or less, at least one current user discovers that even when it can be done no one is interested and quits. Apparently there is a limit to the number of people who figure the best response to a watered-down oversimplified knee-jerk reaction to an event or statement is to squawk out another one.

If nothing else, this would explain user growth, of which they have had essentially none.

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The short version

Does this meet the disclosure requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission?

Then again, do disclosure requirements even mean anything anymore?

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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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My name is Larry

This title could be a more-or-less autobiographical song by the late Wild Man Fischer; or it could be a statement which might be made by Twitter’s little logo bird.

Yes, really. Twitter says so.

Now does this mean that Larry was named for, um, Larry Bird? It’s possible.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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Fark blurb of the week

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The truth of the matter

You might have seen this on the Broadway Distention at Memorial earlier today:

Lamar digital billboard

The distortions imposed by the lens actually serve as a pretty accurate indicator of how bleary-eyed I was at the time.

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Twits and giggles

Twitter is known for a bird and occasionally a whale. Now it has a phish:

Twitter spam

(Click to embiggen.) “You have 3 unread message(s),” indeed.

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Revolving around the center, as it were

Steve Lackmeyer spends part of his Oklahoman column today giving a shout-out to two of the guys you need to be reading to keep track of what’s going on downtown: Doug Loudenback and Nick Roberts. They’re both seriously opinionated, and they do their homework before they take a stand. Of course, they’ve both been blogrolled here for rather a long time, in case I need to poach an idea from them.

Worth quoting:

The Oklahoman itself is no stranger to new media, and for the past couple of years my own reporting efforts have included blogging and use of Twitter. And if there’s anything to draw out of this, regardless of one’s thoughts about new media, it’s clear that because of it downtown development is being discussed by far more than just a few insiders at City Hall.

Just in case you were readying an Edwin Starr-like grunt and the complaint, “Blogs! What are they good for?”

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Tweeting ourselves into numbness

I concede that I’ve worried a bit along these lines myself:

The more I see of Twitter and our push toward putting all of our lives on the internet, I wonder if fun moments at bars with friends really matter if they’re not captured on a digital camera and then immediately posted as a Twitpic. Can we really taste how great that pork sandwich is from Ko if we’re so worried about typing in to the hundreds of strangers following us, just how much the line was worth the wait?

What I’m looking for, I think, might be the parameters of this range: at one end, events too mundane or unimportant or uninteresting to tweet, and at the other, events sufficiently transcendent that trying to fit them into 140 characters is sheerest folly. Unfortunately, I have a surplus of the former, and a marked dearth of the latter — unless, of course, I’m completely misreading things, which is always a possibility.

Still, weighing everything on this scale exacts a price of its own:

I can’t help but think that we’re no longer capable of feeling in real-time. Rather, we are so caught up in our own self-importance that we don’t even know how to function without hiding behind our screens. Case in point: what can you really say when you meet someone at a bar who doesn’t take the opportunity to talk to you beyond a casual hello, but then later, (some way, somehow without a name or number), tracks you down on based on your picture alone and sends the message — “Was that you at the bar on Sunday night? Want to go out sometime?”

The likelihood of something like that happening to me is vanishingly small — if you arranged all the unlikely things I could theoretically find in my inbox someday, “Want to go out sometime?” ranks slightly below “We’re prepared to offer you a book deal” — but I have noticed in myself a tendency to stay behind the screen. One of the reasons I took all those road trips was to force myself out of that hiding place for brief periods.

But given my compulsion to document things as my days presumably wind down, I don’t want to find myself wondering “Did that really happen? I didn’t write anything about it.”

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Putting a value on your two cents

Is Twitter worth a billion dollars?

If it is, then this is the time for some highly-dubious speculation. The last tweet I put up before this post was this one, which is numbered 4132710518. Up to that point, Twitter has presumably had 4.1 billion tweets. I calculate from this that each tweet — what else have they got? — is worth at present about 23 cents, and that I’ve been responsible for a whole $440 of that putative billion.

You’re welcome.

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Possibly-meaningless statistic

As mentioned before, I use WordTwit to send an update to Twitter whenever there’s a new post; as a bonus, it creates a shortened URL from this very domain, although it can be configured to use, say,

I was noticing that about 10 percent of my Twitter followers actually do click on those new-post links, which got me wondering how much response I get to random stuff I tweet. So I went ahead and got an actual account, just to track those links. The result: about 10 percent of my Twitter followers actually do click on those links.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this: the Web site draws maybe 500 a day, and I have a core of about 50 regular commenters.

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Why Twitter, anyway?

Maybe I can’t answer that for myself, but this is as good an explanation as I’m likely to steal find:

What am I using Twitter for? Not there to sell anything. Don’t have anything I created that I want you to see. Just want to know what other people out in the world are doing, seeing, eating, creating. I have to stay here and do my own everyday stuff, but my mind would often rather be out exploring.

Then again, she put this on a blog. Go figure.

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Equilibrium in the Twitterverse

Okay, maybe that’s a bit much to hope for. But Dr. Ellen Brandt has noticed some encouraging trends:

Equal numbers of Followers and Following: More and more often, we see users whose Follower-Following ratios are just about dead-even, meaning they are shunning the concept of following Celebrities or Big Media pundits and choosing to connect more naturally and equally with potential friends the way they do on Linked In and Facebook. There are now some applications that allow you to see if any Followers have recently dropped you, in which case you can easily drop them, too.

I’ve tried one such application, and haven’t been able to get it to work. That said, I’m among those folks with about the same number of followers and following. (Dr. Brandt, last I looked, was literally dead-even, so she manifestly practices what she preaches.) I do follow a handful of celebrities. Then again, I tend to define “celebrity” as “anyone more famous than I am,” which makes for a pretty broad spectrum. And I of course follow Diablo Cody, who is a pretty broad, but that’s neither here nor there.

Reluctance to Retweet — Or Blindly Recommend — Pieces of Information On Somebody’s Say So: As a lifelong member of the Media, I find it absolutely appalling that anyone should agree to Retweet a link to an article, blog, or any other kind of commentary without first reading it themselves and agreeing it is worth recommending. I don’t want people to Retweet my articles and blogs unless they like them and believe they might be informative and enjoyable to others. And I would not consider Retweeting other people’s work I didn’t like and find interesting. Thankfully, more Twitter users are beginning to agree.

I tend to practice the same rule for retweets that I do for long expropriations of other people’s blog material (such as this): when possible, add value. If you had a good one-liner, I may RT it as is, but if there’s room (light editing is a consideration), I’ll tack on something of my own. And I won’t RT a link unless I’ve actually looked at it.

Refusal to Follow Someone Without Making the Choice Oneself: It may be profound heresy to say so, but I think Twitter’s popular Follow Fridays are essentially silly. It’s bad enough that Twitter’s one- or two-sentence profile bios tell you next-to-nothing about candidates you might want to connect with. But at least they tell you something. (Buffy the Cat’s says she’s a astrophysicist who plays the clarinet and reads Proust.) More Twitterers are passing on the chance to add folks to their Following roster because that fella with the beard in Pensacola — how the heck did he get into my network? — says they should.

I’ve picked up a handful of followers on Follow Friday, I think — at least, there are some people out there who have willingly promoted my name — and I appreciate the gesture. But I have the same sort of ambivalence about #followfriday that I have about blog awards and such: I’d almost rather be one person’s absolute favorite than be widely acknowledged as, um, acceptable. But maybe that’s just me.

The 160-character bios, though (and why not 140?), are indeed fairly (read “extremely”) limited.

Shunning the Concept That the More Followers You Have, the Better Off You Are: Not only is Twitter ineffective when viewed as a popularity contest, but networks patched together randomly can easily harm their amassers. Take a look at virtually any politician’s Followers list on Twitter, and you’ll find crowds of Ladies of the Night, Tooth Whitener salesmen, Stock Tip purveyors, and Trump Network groupies. Opposing politicians could have a field day publicizing these lists, if it weren’t for the fact that theirs are probably just as bad.

Indeed. I’ve purged my own list several times. Fortunately, I’m far enough below the radar that I attract relatively few skanks, soi-disant social-media experts, and skanks. (There are a lot of skanks.)

Dr. Brandt, incidentally, deserves kudos for this delightful post title: I Don’t Like What You Wrote. You Should Be Poisoned, Garrotted, Stabbed With Stiletto Heels, Thrown Off A Tall Building, and Have Vultures Eat Your Liver. Some of us can only aspire to incurring that level of wrath.

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Welcome to Stalker Heaven

You may already have your very own stalkers followers:

[T]here were a few people whose Twitter pages, if existent, I would check obsessively. Who am I talking about? I’m referring to those very-not-ugly guys whose names are scrawled all over random papers on my desk. The ones who I daydream about instead of being productive.

Sound creepy and stalker-esque? Probably because it is. And it seems that the only reason anyone would want to know what a specific person was doing at every hour of every day is if they are a creepy stalker who is obsessed with you or really really desperate.

Now I’ve had my fair share of people telling me how dangerous having a Facebook page is and I’ve gotten plenty of stories about random men who stalk women’s Facebook pages. I could care less. My profile is set on private and I don’t add creepers. I think I’ll live. But despite my annoyance at all this stalker preaching, I can’t help but think that Twitter is probably the home page of every stalker in America.

I figure anyone obsessed with me is “really really desperate” by definition, but I’m reasonably certain that no one meeting that description is among my 160 or so Twitter followers, not counting the 50 or so I blocked for reasons of suspected spammage.

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Twools of the twade

If I’m going to get all tweety, I might as well have some implements of construction.

The first thing I installed was WordTwit, which is a WordPress plugin that automagically (as distinguished from Automattically) tweets when a new post comes out here. It comes with its own URL shortener, which helps, given the space limitations.

Second was TweetDeck, which lost points for being an Adobe application, but which met my basic requirement: run in the background and scoop up all the appropriate material, accept anything I might want to send, and not bother me otherwise. Besides, I noticed Trent Reznor was using it, which almost cancels out the Adobitude.

And just to prove a point, to myself if nobody else, I laboriously punched out a text message and sent it up. My cell phone seems to have a dubious function called “Dispredictive Text Entry,” in which you try to guess what word it’s finally going to come up with when you quit thumbing the keys.

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I should know better than this by now

I promised myself I wouldn’t hang out on Twitter unless I came up with ten good reasons to justify it. I’m still not so sure about “good,” but here are ten reasons:

  1. Tired of fluttering back and forth between other people’s streams
  2. Wanted to see if anyone had had the temerity to swipe the name
  3. Fear of becoming long-winded in my old age
  4. How hard can it be if Ashton Kutcher can do it?
  5. Heard there was going to be a prize for Fewest Followers
  6. Consistency demonstrated in being once again several years behind the cool kids
  7. No other hope of snagging a girlfriend in Argentina
  8. Free extraneous links to the blogstuff
  9. Thought “hashtag” was something you played at Cracker Barrel
  10. Trini’s out of town for the weekend

So be it, then.

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Beyond Twitter

How much more can the national attention span shrink? This much:

I just really have to wonder, what’s next? Soon there will be a website where you write everything you ate that day or maybe you’ll have to write the first word that pops into your mind every 30 seconds. I’m being ridiculous, I know, or am I? I could be right and then we’ll see who gets the last laugh.

Of course, if she is right, the elapsed time between first and last laughs is likely to be only a minute or so.

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38911 tweets free

What can you say about a 25-year-old computer that isn’t dead? There is now a Twitter client for the Commodore 64.

It’s called Breadbox64, and it does require a hardware mod: this expansion cartridge, which supports a network card.

You can read the inventor’s tweets here.

(Via Fark.)

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