A new app called StatusPeople allows you to view how many of your Twitter followers are real people with active accounts, how many have dormant accounts, and how many of your “followers” are outright fake accounts. The news might be a blow to your ego when you find out that something less than 100% of your followers real, and you’re not as popular online as you thought you were. But that’s nothing compared to how presidential hopeful Mitt Romney must feel when it comes to his Twitter account Read more
When the follower count on Mitt Romney’s official Twitter account spiked by seventeen percent in one day in late July, people took notice – just not the kind of notice the presidential candidate was hoping for. Barracuda Labs dug into the Romney account and found that eighty percent of these new followers were accounts which were less than ninety days old. One in four of his followers has never posted a single tweet. In other words, wherever Mitt turned to for new “followers” in July, it wasn’t coming from his loyal fans or people who plan to vote for him. Apparently, it wasn’t even coming from people. As the research reveals, fake Twitter followers can be bought and sold on eBay. Individuals create large numbers of fake Twitter accounts, then spend their days using them to follow, en masse, whichever accounts are paying them to do so. Romney’s motivations for padding his Twitter account with fake followers is obvious…
While Romney has eight hundred thousand total Twitter followers, his opponent Barack Obama has eighteen million. In fairness, the current President of the United States has had a higher profile over the past four years than the unemployed former governor of Massachusetts who formerly worked for a company he wishes people would forget the name of. But the gap is still so startlingly large that Romney likely has a desire to close that gap by any means possible. The gap on Facebook is similar, where Obama has nine times as many fans as Romney. Barracuda reports that the going rate for buying fake Twitter followers is eighteen dollars per thousand. And while there’s no proof that Romney did indeed pay for the improbable number of new “followers” he gained on July 21st, consider this: ten percent of those followers have since been suspended by Twitter.
by Bill Palmer
Apple is planning to become part owner of Twitter, or at least it was planning to, according to the New York Times. Despite the trusted nature of the source material, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept. It’s not that Apple can’t afford to part with the cash, and it’s not that Twitter couldn’t use the help. It’s just that it’s not in Apple’s nature. First there’s the fact that Apple’s preferred method of working with another company is to either independently partner with it (as it tried to do with Google and Microsoft before ultimately being betrayed) or to acquire the company outright (Apple buys smaller tech companies all the time, but almost never talks about it). Then there’s the fact that unlike most tech companies, Apple understands that mainstream consumers drive the popularity of tech products these days, not geeks or elitists – and the mainstream has already made clear that they’re willing to embrace the Facebook format in much greater force than with Twitter. Apple therefore knows it needs to partner with Facebook, and becoming part owner of Twitter might strain those prospects. Then I remembered two words, and immediately rethought my entire position: Tim Cook…
Apple’s new CEO is Steve Jobs’ protege of fourteen years, and indeed shares the same vision and worldview as his predecessor. But during last night’s opening ceremonies of the Olympics, I saw a television ad for Apple which, quite frankly, Jobs would never have allowed to go out the door. It was funny, it got the point across, it was classy enough… but it wasn’t artful. It was mid-brow. It was the kind of ad some other mainstream consumer company might run. And depending on your viewpoint, it was either beneath Apple’s artfully dignified nature, or it was long overdue. Perhaps it was both. And it was the kind of ad that Cook signed off on, whereas Jobs wouldn’t have. And then I recalled that there are other differences in the details when it comes to these two men. So let’s not assume that Apple will continue on its path of either fully acquiring or merely partnering with other companies and nothing in between. In fact it’s easy to argue that two of the relatively few major mistakes that Jobs made was that he partnered with Microsoft and Google without first acquiring a big enough chunk of them that he could control what they did going forward. Both companies ended up blatantly stealing and copycatting Apple’s technology secrets from right under Jobs’ nose. Buying twenty percent of Microsoft in 1984 or 5% of Google in 2007 wouldn’t have been the artful move. It would have left Apple stuck working with and being partially responsible for a partner it may have ended up not liking very much. It could have been a distraction. But it would have hedged the bets enough to reduce the odds that Bill Gates or Eric Schmidt might have been less bold when it came to the idea of stealing from their part-owner. Maybe it’s the kind of move that Tim Cook would make. Acquire all of Twitter and suddenly you’re formal rivals with Facebook. Suddenly you’re stuck having to develop Android and BlackBerry versions of the Twitter app in-house just to keep those users happy. But acquire a meaningful minority piece of Twitter, Inc. and you simply get to control what Twitter does without having to babysit the social network’s entire operation. And speaking of Facebook…
Steve Jobs would never have been interested in a game of acquiring part ownership of Twitter as leverage in order to force Facebook to come to the table for a partnership; such non-creative hijinks would have bored him, I think. If it didn’t directly serve to make the product better, he considered it a distraction. But again, it’s the kind of move that Tim Cook just might embrace. After all, he’s the one who was locking up all the long term deals with solid state storage vendors when he was COO, ensuring Apple could manufacture as many iPod nanos and iPhones as necessary to meet demand, without parts shortages getting in the way. So he has the background for it and the proclivity toward using such deals to Apple’s advantage. If Apple takes part ownership of Twitter, it obviously gains as much influence over the social network (and as much Twitter integration into iOS and Mac products as it deems fit). But it also allows Apple to potentially force Facebook into a deeper partnership than it wants, because the threat that Apple might use its Twitter stake to try to beef up Twitter into a true Facebook competitor would always be there. Give us the kind of partnership we want, Zuckerberg, or we’ll turn Twitter into your worst nightmare. It’s the kind of leveraged business move that Steve Jobs never would have wasted his artful time making; that’s what he hired Tim Cook for.
by Bill Palmer
One of the odd things about having been on today’s popular social networks since the early days is that while those networks have significantly changed over the years, I’ve been reluctant to change the way I use them. Twitter since late 2006, Facebook since early 2007. In social media years, I’m older than Moses. It doesn’t mean I know anything more about how to use either network. It just means that I’ve seen more. I still want to use those networks like I used to back in the day. And at this point that may be a handicap.
Case in point: I still approve every Facebook friend request I receive, so long as the account appears to be a legitimate, real person. That habit started back in the day because when I first joined the network, it had just gone public and very few fellow non-college adults were on there. In other words, I’d take whatever “friends” were seeking me out, within reason, in the name of populating my Facebook page. Gradually, over the years, my (actual) friends, family, and colleagues have shown up and my 1700 Facebook “friends” are a mix of people I know and people I have yet to get to know. And that’s always worked. Except now, with the launch of facebook.com live chat, at least once a week someone “friends” me and, upon approving the request, they immediately want to live-chat with me. Placed on the spot, I have no way of knowing who they really are (Beatweek reader or random spammer, for instance) and so I nearly always ignore chat requests when they come from someone I don’t know. Even though I may have just approved them as a “friend,” that doesn’t mean I want to be their buddy – especially in my line of work when those trying to “sell me” on something will use any means they can come across; there’s nothing worse than being sucked into a sales pitch you didn’t know was a sales pitch. It’s left me in a position where I’m no longer inclined to approve Facebook friend requests without finding out specifically who the person is first. Maybe I should have started doing it that way a long time ago, but I’d been too busy trying to use the 2011 evolution of Facebook as if it were still 2007. The same thing has come up and bitten me on Twitter as well…
Actually, Twitter served up a liferaft for old timers like me. Back in the day, you followed back everyone who followed you. If it turned out their tweets weren’t to your liking, you’d quietly unfollow them later. But in those days the total numbers were manageable (Robert Scoble was considered king of Twitter because he alone had five thousand followers). These days the sheer number of people who end up following a frequently-tweeting account like mine is such that I finally had to turn off email notifications regarding new followers; they were in the hundreds per day. So now, not only am I not following back new people, I’m not even aware of who my new followers are unless I hear from them in a “reply” message. That’s fine, except I’m left with a back-catalog of fifteen thousand people or so whom I’ve “followed back” over the years out of habit (or during one misguided stretch, automation). Some of these people are pure spammers. Some of them tweet things I’m fundamentally opposed to reading about. And yet there they are, leaving me with a Twitter timeline which is literally unmanageable. Thankfully, Twitter’s “lists” feature bailed me out in that I now only pay attention to certain lists of various sizes. I make no apologies for that, either. Only so much time in the day. But the group of people I’m “following” on Twitter has no correlation to who I’m actually paying attention to. In fact I’m fairly certain there are people on the private lists I check with regularity that I’m not “following” publicly. And I wouldn’t be in this non-correlating mess if not for the fact that I jumped on board with Twitter so early that it was a different network and the unwritten rules read differently…
None of this is a complaint, nor an attempt at nostalgia. Both networks are infinitely more useful to me now that they’re well populated by the mainstream. After all, I choose my social networks by who all is there. In contrast, while the new Google+ has some technical promise, it’s of no value to me at present because of who all isn’t there. The old saying is that the pioneers get the arrows while the settlers who come later get the land. I have no regrets about having been an early adopter of Facebook and Twitter, even though the usage habits I picked up back in those early days have left me with baggage I now need to clean up. I’m just not as inclined to get involved with yet another social network, one where the arrows are still flying and there’s no meaningful land to be had – particularly now that the two reigning social networks include just about everyone I actually want to converse with (along with, clearly, even more people on top of that). Even if it does mean that I’m an old graybeard on those networks who’s still trying to adjust to what they’ve evolved into as opposed to what they once were.
The new Britney Spears album Femme Fatale is, predictably, atop to the iTunes charts today on its day of release. But while Brit’s long awaited comeback record isn’t surprising anyone by selling well, some of the praise coming in for it is coming from surprising corners. Christina Aguilera, who has long been a Britney rival (at least professionally speaking, as the two were often compared to each other in their early career years), hopped on Twitter this morning to publicly tout Britney’s new record: “Hey @BritneySpears Congrats on Femme Fatale release! Can’t wait to see what you bring in the next video. xo – Xtina”
Two hours later, Britney responded in kind: “Thanks @TheRealXtina. Can’t wait to watch you on your new show. Hope we get to hear that voice on The Voice. -Brit”
The praise for Femme Fatale came from other circles. Jordin Sparks, who once served as Britney’s tour support, also made her feelings toward the new album clear: “Just bought @britneyspears new album! WHOOOO! Such good memories being on the Circus tour!” Fans also appear to be on board with the record by not only pushing it into the number one spot in iTunes today, but also by giving an average iTunes rating of four and a half stars out of five. Femme Fatale’s release-day success was predictable after its first two singles, Hold It Against Me and Till The World Ends, both found popularity ahead of the album’s release.
It took Charlie Sheen all of one tweet on his brand new Twitter account to amass a third of a million followers today, which the newly “unemployed” (his word) actor taking to the social mediaverse after seeing production on his show Two And A Half Men halted. The show’s season came to a sudden end after Sheen, who has seen his share of personal troubles spill over into the public eye of late, attacked show creator Chuck Lorre in an interview last week.
Sheen’s first tweet was a twitpic in which he declared himself to be “winning,” just as his Twitter bio lists him as an “Unemployed Winner.” His account @charliesheen is in fact verified by Twitter, which means it’s really him as opposed to the several impostors who’ve claimed to be “Charlie Sheen” on Twitter of late, either for deceitful or satirical reasons. Sheen’s second tweet managed to take a backhanded swipe at Lorre while explaining just how thoroughly uninterested he is in fulfilling a certain interview request: “Just got invited to do the Nancy Grace show… I’d rather go on a long road trip with Chuck Lorre in a ’75 Pacer.”
Interestingly, Sheen has thus far chosen to follow a mere ten Twitter users, despite the hundreds of thousands he’s gained thus far today. Among those he’s currently following: Alyssa Milano, along with talk show hosts Piers Morgan and Howard Stern. We’re guessing Nancy Grace’s Twitter account won’t be added to that list any time soon. Or, for that matter, Chuck Lorre’s.
Lindsay Lohan just went on Twitter and tweeted “Hello Facebook. Yes, this is actually Lindsay. Welcome to my Facebook page!” Yeah, we don’t get it either. We’ll refrain from making any jokes about her alleged substance abuse issues keeping Lindsay from knowing which social network she’s on, as plenty of others on Twitter have already beaten us to it. But even as Lohan is facing the serious personal matter of being on trial for alleged theft, or whatever it is this time, there’s a very different angle here, and one which isn’t specific to Lindsay but was apparently highlighted by her social media faux pas today. Even as Twitter goes nuts trying to figure out what the hell she was talking about when she said “Hello Facebook” to her Twitter followers (in fact “Hello Facebook” is a trending topic on Twitter right now as a result of it), it appears it may have been more of a mechanical behind the scenes mix up, indicative of more and more users attempting, not so successfully, to use a single tool in order to push their message out to multiple social media platforms.
There are plenty of users (yours truly included) who have their Facebook page rigged to scrape their Twitter updates and auto-post them as Facebook status updates. The results are hit and miss, as Facebook will only pick up so many tweets within a given period of time, leaving users often unaware of which of their tweets made it over to Facebook until after the fact – and sometimes, things that were only meant for Twitter end up on Facebook as well, totally out of place there. In the case of Lindsay Lohan, her infamous “Hello Facebook” tweet came from a service called Who Say, which appears to be one of those services which allows users to enter one status update and have it push out to multiple social networks; her other tweets typically come from a web browser or from her BlackBerry app. So it’s possible Lindsay could have been legitimately attempting to post a welcome message on some new Facebook fan page of hers (although we can’t find it), without realizing that the message would also be posted on her Twitter account as well. Or maybe it’s unfair to blame Who Say, and instead it’s just Lindsay being Lindsay. But in any case, it’s more common than ever to see so much auto-cross-posting going on that many tweets on Twitter look like they were intended for Facebook or FriendFeed or vice versa.
Britney Spears continues to tease us. After spending years threatening to stage a comeback any time she wanted to, the pop star finally pushed out a lead single from her upcoming album in the form of Hold It Against Me, which has already propelled her back to the center of the music world’s attention. The song is topping iTunes, it’s topping radio, and even with all that accomplished, the accompanying music video is still floating out there in the ether, and now the teasing is intentional. “If I said you have to wait 12 more days, would you hold it against me?” Britney tweeted this morning, along with a link to another YouTube teaser (this one a whopping six seconds long) which doesn’t appear to necessarily include actual footage from the video. We’ll find out soon enough, or rather on February 17th, assuming the video doesn’t leak out prior to then. For those who’ve got six seconds to spare, here’s the teaser. Here’s more on Britney Spears.
Kanye West has made light of his own past in his latest tweet, which references the fact that the new Britney Spears song “Hold It Against Me” has skyrocketed to the number one position ahead of his own new collaboration with Jay-Z. Posting publicly on Twitter, Kanye address Spears: “Yo Britney, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you be #1, but me and Jay-Z single is one of the best songs of all time! LOL”
West is referring to the fact that Hold It Against Me has edged out his own H • A • M on the iTunes overall singles chart (Spears is also #1 in pop singles while Kanye is #1 on the Hip Hop / Rap chart). Kayne’s “best of all time” quip is of course in reference to the instance in which he once crashed the MTV VMA stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in order to declare that Beyonce had the greatest video of all time. Here’s more on Kanye West. Here’s more on Britney Spears.
Elton John is just fine, despite a false story floating around that the music legend had a massive heart attack. The culprit: Twitter. In an ill-fated attempt at a dig at the notion of a certain young singer on television regarded as being a “young Elton John,” one tweeter remarked that Elton John had suffered a “massive heart attack” In an apparent attempt at a satirical take along the lines of “spinning in his grave” but instead stated it in such a manner that it was widely taken as fact – and retweeted by so many users that it became a front-page tweet. The individual then expressed his regret at the unfortunate joke.
Just to be clear: Elton John did NOT have a heart attack, and he’s probably unaware that the false story is spreading.
For all of the iPhone’s innovative features, including its auto-correction which cleans up most typos made via its virtual keyboard, occasionally it all just goes wrong. Just ask singer-actor Trey Songz, who attempted to pose an innocent question on his Twitter account while using his iPhone. After an unfortunate bit of auto-correction, the posted question ended up reading “Why up World?”
A bit later, Songz realized his unintentional typo, and shot back “Fckin iPhone” which set off a flurry of Twitter retweets to the point that “Fckin iPhone” has been a Twitter trending topic for the past hour. Interestingly, if Trey had spelled it out, Twitter’s trending topic censors would have disallowed it from becoming a trending topic (as we clearly saw last year when Jenny Slate dropped the F-bomb on Saturday Night Live). Then again, it’s not entirely clear whether Trey Songz really meant to type “Fckin iPhone” as a euphemism or if that too was just another typo.
LeBron James has seen enough. Perhaps the most famous Dallas Cowboys fan in the world, the newest member of the Miami Heat threw up his hands digitally about twenty minutes ago via his Twitter account and declared the Cowboys to be the worst team in football – and while not calling out embattled Dallas Coach Wade Phillips by name, called for a change within the organization. As reminder that the stars of one sport are often simply fans of another sport, with the same excitement and at times frustration of any other fan, LeBron James lit into the Cowboys situations thusly:
“Something has to change around Cowboy land. Some furniture moving asap. This is just ridiculous man!!!!!! C’Mon Son”
Later, he went further in lamenting that while his Cowboys don’t have the worst record in football, he doesn’t see much merit in the team’s lone win:
“Never thought I’d say this about my Cowboys but they are officially the worst team in the NFL right now even though the Bills are winless!”
LeBron is in the midst of attempting to put out the flames of his own mid-career team change, which many felt was mishandled as he left the Cleveland Cavaliers in favor of super-teaming it with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. But even as LeBron has begun to rack up wins and points in Miami in the name of getting back to business as usual, it’s clear that he’s lost patience with his favorite football team just as throughly as any other Cowboys fan.
Meanwhile, FOX’s Jay Glazer has predicted that assistant Jason Garrett will be the new Cowboys head coach before the night is over. No word from LeBron on whether he approves of such a move.
Randy Moss is no longer a Viking (again), Shawne Merriman is no longer a Charger, and Lil Wayne is about to be no longer a resident of Rikers Island. The New York prison, made famous for its frequent references in Law & Order, has been best known this year as the prison in which the superstar rapper had been incarcerated. The news brings a touch of sobriety to a week in which star athletes who’d been fired by their teams were said to have their worlds crumbling around them, as the focus now shifts to a star musician who hasn’t tasted a breath of free air in about nine months. That hasn’t stopped Wayne from releasing his new album I Am Not A Human Being during that time, went to number one on the charts despite the rapper’s obvious inability to make publicity appearances during that time.
Scattered reports from Twitter have confirmed that crowds are forming in the visitor parking lot at Rikers Island as we speak, awaiting Lil Wayne’s release. According to the individual who has been curating Lil Wayne’s official Twitter account, Lil Wayne is “taking back this account as soon as he’s home.”
UPDATE: Whoops, not so fast. Try again tomorrow.
Sara Bareilles was recently presented with the option of ordering a dish which had been named after her, thanks to a restaurant she encountered in her travels during her current tour. The restaurant’s specials board listed the “Sara Bareilles Shrimp Marinara” which had presumably done in honor of her arrival in town, along with various soups. Of the occurrence, Bareilles tweeted “Thank you to the sweet lil spot next to the venue who named dinner after me. Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
Sara Bareilles is currently on tour in support of her new album Kaleidoscope Heart, which debuted last month at number one on the Billboard and iTunes charts, and includes the hit single King of Anything. Her past hits include Love Song and live favorite Gravity. Sara recently spoke with Beatweek about her new album and more.
Detroit Lions linebacker Zack Follett, who was carted off the field today after an injury which appeared to have possibly left him paralyzed, has announced that he’s “ok” via Twitter. The Lions LB, who goes by Zakarian Follett on Twitter, posted the following after the game:
“Heaven was bombarded with prayer request and they were heard! Thank you and much love to all you showing your support. I’m ok. Thank God”
The seventh round draft pick is in his second year with the Lions after playing college ball at the University of California.
Lady GaGa finally surfaced today after disappearing from Twitter for nearly two weeks. There’s more likely time for a musician to go quiet than when new material is actively being worked on, which GaGa affirmed today when she returned to Twitter and told fans that she’d been “working so hard” for them on her new music, along with a linked photo of her sitting at a piano in a studio. GaGa released her debut album The Fame about two years ago, and then followed it up with The Fame Monster, a nearly full-length companion piece, about a year ago. GaGa has said that she won’t be releasing new material in 2010, but she’s clearly working on it.
Lady GaGa is the world’s most popular Twitter user, now approaching seven million followers. She doesn’t necessarily tweet every day, but disappearing from the social network for a full twelve days is a stretch by her standards. Of her still-in-progress album-to-be, GaGa, simply told fans that she “can’t wait for u to hear the new music.”
With much of the world tuned in to watch the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners this evening, Twitter was abuzz with the topic as users shared their thoughts on the matter. However, nowhere in Twitter’s “trending topics” list was there any mention of the event, despite the fact that it was clearly the most-discussed topic of the evening. This appears to be a result of changes made to the trending topics algorithm earlier this year, aimed at keeping the same topics from trending day after day without any real news attached to them, simply because fans have conspired to push such topics into the trending list (some have called this the Justin Bieber rule). With the saga of the miners having lasted more than three months, it’s likely that every permutation of “Chilean miners” and “trapped miners” and “miners trapped” and so on has already been a trending topic at one point or another, so presumably all the mentions of the subject this evening were ignored by the trending algorithm because it mistakenly viewed them as the same old story.
This phenomenon is no more evident than when celebrities such as Brett Favre, Dave Matthews, and Michael Vick have shown up in the trending topics of late – but have each had their names misspelled on the list. Presumably, the trending algorithm ignored mentions of “Brett Favre” but mistakenly thought that the misspelled “Brett Farve” was breaking news, and allowed it on the list. The same went for “Dave Mathews” and “Micheal Vick” among other almost-comical misspellings.
But the most egregious trending topic snafu of the evening wasn’t what was omitted from the list – it was when Twitter appeared to announce that Rev Run, the Run DMC co-founder turned reverend, had been murdered. The phrase “Rev Run killed” sent shockwaves through the Twitter community when it appeared in the trending topics list. As it turned out, the phrase was in reference to the fact that Rev Run had “killed” in a television performance. In context, the phrase makes sense. Yanked out of context, it sounded like another Run DMC member had been gunned down, years after the death of Jam Master Jay.
If there’s an argument to be made for Twitter assigning someone to curate its trending topics list, at least in the most egregious instances, “Rev Run killed” has to be it. We’ve learned over the years that the list is in fact censored to exclude certain swear words (Jenny Slate’s F-bomb on SNL proved that a year ago). So if Twitter is willing to go as far as to ensure that the trending topics are family-friendly, why not also make sure that the trending topics aren’t falsely informing the world that someone has been killed? Perhaps it’s something for the folks at Twitter to consider.
Twitter CEO Evan Williams unexpectedly stepped aside today, handing the role to someone else within the company. If that means that a search for a new CEO outside the company is underway, here are a list of possibilities:
Mark Zuckerberg: Come on, how cool would that be? Well, not really, as Facebook’s continual privacy violations would likely find their way over to Twitter. Then again, Twitter doesn’t really involve any private user data anyway. Plus, this would be the best chance Twitter has of getting a movie made about it.
Loren Brichter: The dude did a nice job when he was running the Tweetie iPhone app all by himself. His app had fewer problems and downtime than Twitter itself typically has. Just sayin’
Steve Jobs: Sure, the guy already has a gig. But it wouldn’t be the first time Jobs was the CEO of two companies at once, as he headed Apple and Pixar simultaneously for years. If nothing else, Twitter’s fail whale would be redesigned in style.
Bill Parcells: He just resigned his position as Miami Dolphins executive, he gets bored easily, and he’s probably looking for another gig.
Fail Whale: Yes, the actual fail whale. It’s by far the most popular and recognizable figure in Twitter history. In fact, it even made an appearance today, as if to announce its candidacy for the position.
It’s nice to see Britney Spears making headlines for the right reasons. As she prepares to take over Glee tonight in her much-anticipated guest appearance on the show, the pop superstar is finally seeing her name being spoken frantically for something that actually has to do with her talents, rather than sideshow stuff.
Earlier this year, Britney (briefly) became the most-follower Twitter user when she rested the title away from Ashton Kutcher, but it quickly became apparent that the milestone had more to do with her fans than anything Spears was doing right herself, as she failed to even acknowledge the milestone on her Twitter account, which sees as many (clearly identified) tweets from her manager as it does from Britney herself. And almost as soon as she took the Twitter crown, she lost it to Lady GaGa.
Back up further, and Britney’s previous headlines have been centered around the time she shaved her head, the time she tried to launch a comeback at an awards show but wasn’t up to snuff, questions about her parenting skills, her divorce, and so on. In fact one has to peer so far back into her history to find a time when she was making headlines for talent-related reasons, it’s remarkable that she still has the staying power that she does. But don’t tell that to the Glee folks, who are undoubtedly even more gleeful than usual over the fact that Britney has graced them with her presence.
A one-off appearance (or will there be an encore?) on a TV series is a nice start, but if Britney Spears really wants to get her name back into the headlines in an even bigger, more meaningful manner, she’ll go ahead and release a full album of new music. If her appearance on Glee is enough to get her name atop Twitter’s trending topics list (and it is), then just imagine what kind of a spectacle it’ll be if and when she finally does release a new album.
Twitter has previewed a new Twitter.com interface, which is good news for me because it’s still how I use Twitter when on my Mac. And yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that. Having long ago shifted over to a real app on my iPhone (after trying a bunch I settled on Tweetie, and so did the folks at Twitter), I’ve never found a third party desktop Twitter app that I considered usable. I know a lot of folks love TweetDeck, but it’s so busy it makes me feel like my house is on fire. And while Tweetie for Mac shows potential, that’s all it’s ever showed, as there’s just too much about it that doesn’t work for me. So here I am, one of the biggest proponents of shifting everything beyond basic reading out of the pitifully-outdated concept known as the web browser and into real desktop apps, both on my Mac and, if you want, on your PC (but that’s another conversation). In fact pretty much all I do through a web browser these days is read articles, as everything from email to chatting to music shopping are conducted in nicely done desktop apps. With the exception, of course, of Twitter and Facebook. And so today’s revamped new Twitter.com makes me both happy and sad.
The demo looks promising, but that’s a relative term. The new overhaul appears to do or Twitter.com what Gmail did for webmail, which is to take a concept that should have never, ever been attempted in something as lame as a web browser, and has always been a needlessly crappy experience because it’s bound in a web browser, and basically make it less crappy – but still very much on the crappy side. I say “appears” because hey, I’ve got to be fair and use it before passing any real judgment. But the idea that the good folks at Twitter have somehow managed to be the first entity in history to pull off a not-crappy experience within a web browser is, well, skepticism-inducing at best.
But still, less crappy is a good thing, and so I’m happy about the new Twitter.com. Here’s why I’m every bit as sad, though: the folks at Twitter finally figured out this year that apps are the only proper way to use Twitter, at least on the mobile side. There’s now an official free Twitter app for iPhone, iPad, and every other major smartphone out there. That’s the good news. The bad news is that that particular revelation hasn’t yet sunk in on the desktop side, as Twitter is still clearly investing a lot of resources into revamping its Mac and PC web browser interface when in my opinion those resources should have instead been almost wholly dumped into producing real desktop Twitter apps for Mac and PC.
Maybe that’s coming and we just don’t know it. After all, the future of Tweetie for Mac in the wake of Twitter’s acquisition of Tweetie for iPhone (and its sole developer) is still not entirely publicly clear. And I know that Twitter will probably say they’re focusing their resources on the web browser interface because it’s what most people use to access Twitter on their computers anyway. And that’s true. But imagine if, back in the 1980′s, Apple had said it was going to continue to put most of its resources into the Apple II because that’s what most Apple customers were using, even though the new concept called the Macintosh had just rolled out and was clearly the future. Wait, actually, come to think of it, that’s exactly what Apple did when it fired Steve Jobs in 1985 and continued to push the Apple II on the public for several more years while treating the Mac like a niche. And as a result, Apple lost the desktop wars by focusing on yesterday’s technology, simply because it’s what most of its customers were using at the time.
If it’s any consolation to the folks at Twitter, the much-better-funded Facebook is making the exact same mistake. Oddly enough, the only one who’s getting it right is Apple with Ping, by building it into the iTunes desktop app for Mac and PC rather than having launched it as yet another sadly outdated browser-based social network. True, most folks are conditioned by now to do things through a web browser when they’re told to, no matter how crappy it is. But then again, iTunes has a good ten times the marketshare as AmazonMP3, despite the latter’s generally lower prices, with the only real difference being that iTunes is offered through a real app and AmazonMP3 is crippled by the confines of a web browser, thus offering a user experience that no one but a geek could love.
So I’m glad there’s a new and improved Twitter.com, as it’s what I’m still (humiliatingly, regretfully) using for all of my Twitter activities on my Mac, even here in 2010. But the way things are going, “Where’s my official desktop Twitter app?” is about to become the next future-woe refrain along the lines of “I was told there’d be flying cars.”