Posts about twitter

Soccer is a Google beta. Football is a Microsoft release.

I’m an ignoramus about sports so take that dose of salt first. But while watching Olympic soccer, it occurred me to that the sport never took off in America because we prefer results to process.

I twittered that and a discussion ensued:

Richard Sambrook said: I assume that soccer comment was heavy with irony in the light of US football timeouts etc v the fluidity of the beautiful game?

Me: Point taken. But every down is measurable progress. That’s how we run companies: deliverables, metrics, milestones, deadlines.

Mohamed Nanbhay: Admittedly I don’t know much about sport but would think that football was about a result while American football about progress.

Me: Well-said. But I keep focusing on the idea that soccer is a process. On my mind because papers struggle with process v. product.

Mohamed Nanbhay: That makes sense. Football is dynamic, players think of their feet. American football is about planning and execution?

Me: Right. And that’s more American, I think: the belief that things can be planned, then executed.

Ross: Soccer is samba. Football is line dancing.

Me: I like that. Fill in the blanks, everybody: Soccer is ____. Football is _____. Football is American because ____.

Thomas Knuewer: Nice idea. So: Soccer is free trade. Football is WTO. Football is American because it’s over regulated.

Me: By that rule, then chess is the sport of the regulated EU.

Shane Richmond: Soccer is Jackson Pollack, football is Piet Mondrian. I like this game! (But not the word ‘soccer’)

CharlesThomas: I think soccer isn’t big in the US because we prefer discrete units, pitch/snap/24 sec shot clock.

CharlesThomas: Hockey is kind of an exception, but play stops often enough for it to be discrete.

Me: Hockey’s not American. It’s Canadian a heart. And Canada is of the empire. Rule holds.

niltiac: You mean soccer’s slow and boring and the best team doesn’t always win? My thoughts exactly. Rugby – now that’s a real sport.

Mohamed Nanabhay: Do you think the national sport reflects in the way business is done? Strangely, they don’t play test cricket over here.

Ross: Soccer is the world’s game. Football is American because we win in games we invent.

Benroone: Soccer doesn’t take off in the US because you can’t break for adverts every 5 minutes.

ciaranj: Soccer is interesting. Football is boring. Football is American because it’s built around advertising.

Me: Soccer is flow. Football is a PERT chart.

Me: Soccer is a Google beta. Football is a Microsoft release.

Twitpitch

Fred Wilson asked on Twitter this morning for a good place to have a cup of coffee in New Paltz. Otherw who know the place made recommendations. I went to Google Maps to find reviews, just as a friendly favor, because I had a spare second-cycle (don’t tell my editor; I should be editing now).

And then it occurred to me that there’s a business here, which I proposed in what I hope is the first Twittered business plan and elevator pitch.

(Now that I think of it, I might require my students in my entrepreneurial journalism course this fall to pitch their entire business in 140 characters. My old boss Steve Newhouse told last year’s students how he’d bought a business he could describe in seven words. That’s tweet-length. And as much as I hammered in the need for a clear and cogent elevator pitch, the students agreed after their juried session that they hadn’t honed them enough. So I like that, the new elevator pitch: Twitpitch.)

Anyway, the idea I pitched this morning is a marketplace of knowledge and favors: I tweet a request. People who have the knowledge or a moment look up something for me because I’m too busy or too mobile. I pick one that works for me. And that person earns cycles — more favors — which can also be redeemed in cash. The primary currency, however, is cycles. Rex Hammock suggested it’s a merger of Twitter and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and I agree except that I don’t want pennies, I want favors — or a way to reward generosity. It’s perhaps a mix of Twitter and the Zivity model (more on that later).

Twitters as Sprockets

From Thomas Knuewer on Twitter, I learned of a Twitter reading — Twitterlesung — going on as I write this in Berlin and it is streamed here if you happen to be reading this about 3p Saturday. They call it Twiteratur. Only in Berlin.

Google: Cut to the Twitter chase

I wish Google would just go ahead and buy Twitter and put us out of our misery. I want Google to get it, not AOL or Yahoo or Microsoft. We know that Google can fix its problems, as it fixed Blogger’s. I’m not one of those who is bitter about Twitter’s outages. It’s new. It’s wildly popular. It’s fundamentally changing. It’s worth waiting for. Blogger, many of you will remember, was like that, too. It was crashing and infuriating constantly. Ev Williams kept it alive by sheer dint of will. Nick Denton got me to get my employers at Conde Nast to invest in the company and help save it once; if I’ve done anything worthwhile on the internet, that was it. So now Ev and company are pulling out their rubber bands and string once more. And once more, they have created something world-changing. So you know that Google will want it. I wish that Google would just go ahead and buy it.

Twitter as the canary in the news coalmine

Here’s my latest Guardian column about Twitter as news (it got trimmed in print — damned scarce paper — and so here’s my draft):

Last Monday, when an earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province, word of it spread quickly from witnesses on the shaking ground via Twitter, the mobile-and-web microblogging service where users share brief, 140-character-long updates with friends. Prolific blogger and Twitterer Robert Scoble at scobleizer.com insists he saw news of the quake on Twitter minutes before the US Geological Service posted the temblor and an hour before CNN and other news sites reported it.

Twitter is becoming the canary in the news coalmine. It stands to reason: If you’ve just gone through such a major event, you are sure to want to update your friends about it. If enough people are all chattering about an earthquake at the same time, that’s a good and immediate indication of a major news story.

Developers at the BBC and Reuters have picked up on the potential for this. They are working on applications to monitor Twitter, the Twitter search engine Summize, and other social-media services – Flickr, YouTube, Facebook – for news catchwords like “earthquake” and “evacuation”. They hope for two benefits: first, an early warning of news and second a way to find witness media – photos, videos, and accounts from the event. This is clearly more efficient than waiting for reporters and photographers to get to the scene after the news is over – though, of course, they will still go and do what journalists do: report, verify facts (which can be wrong from witnesses in the heat of news), package, and take their own pictures (which they then own).

These social services are also a source of witnesses for journalists to interview. After the Chinese quake, user “casperodj” reported his experience – “it did feel like the earth was going to split. literally everything was shaking” – and what followed – “CREEPY! while i’m typing, there’s an aftershock hitting!” – and the mood on the street – “the shitty concrete buildings around me are still ok though. people seem to be going back to work again” – and also told his readers when he’d gotten off the air with the BBC and Dutch broadcasters.

All this comes from a platform that does nothing more than enable anyone to tell anyone what they’re up to. But this is fundamentally new. We online citizens are living in public, revealing small details of our lives with our updates and our content. It’s in the smallness of this personal news that we can keep in touch with friends in ways we have not been able to since we lived in small towns, able to watch our neighbors’ every move. So perhaps this is not new at all but a return to the old ways: the electronic village, indeed.

London blogger Leisa Reichelt at disambiguity.com has a name for this: “Ambient intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible.” We get to see what our friends had for lunch and with whom, hear about their trips, see their new haircuts. The mundanity of it is the message.

“Isn’t this all just annoying noise?” Reichelt asks and answers: “There are a lot of us, though, who find great value in this ongoing noise. It helps us get to know people who would otherwise be just acquaintances. It makes us feel closer to people we care for but in whose lives we’re not able to participate as closely as we’d like. Knowing these details creates intimacy.”

I have speculated in this space that our new publicness and permanence online will change even friendship, as we no longer need to lose touch with old acquaintances. Just last week, I met up and caught up with my high-school sweetheart after (gulp) 33 years and that was made possible only because she Googled me.

Now it’s also become clear that this publicness and immediacy is yielding both a new relationships and new value: ways to find and report news for a start. Perhaps our chattering will also reveal our collective mood (for that, go to twistori.com and see all Twitter posts that include the words love, hate, think, and wish). Companies are now monitoring Twitter, as the smart ones have been watching blogs, to see what is said about their brands (the cable giant Comcast saw powerful blogger Michael Arrington of techcrunch.com complaining about an outage in Twitter and quickly dispatched a repairman).

When we start putting our lives online, it’s now possible to take our pulse in new ways. And that’s news. For what is news, after all, but what is happening to us?