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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 20, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Annotation for social media rant

Here is some of the material that influenced today’s column on Twitter and social media, plus a few other things.

Clay Shirky’s blog on the failure of the gay-themed books protest:

I was wrong, because I believed things that weren’t true. As bad as that was, though, far worse is the retrofitting of alternate rationales to continue to view Amazon with suspicion, rationales that would not have provoked the outrage we felt had they been all we were asked to react to in the first place.

The New York Times on “ghost twitterers“:

In its short history, Twitter — a microblogging tool that uses 140 characters in bursts of text — has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online, as well as giving the public the ability to speak directly to people and institutions once comfortably on a pedestal.

But someone has to do all that writing, even if each entry is barely a sentence long. In many cases, celebrities and their handlers have turned to outside writers — ghost Twitterers, if you will — who keep fans updated on the latest twists and turns, often in the star’s own voice.

Because Twitter is seen as an intimate link between celebrities and their fans, many performers are not willing to divulge the help they use to put their thoughts into cyberspace.

Bloomberg on Twitter users getting spammed by marketers, tells the story of new Twitter user Rachel Gard:

Gard, who was planning to paint her bedroom gray with red pinstripes, posted an update April 1 telling her friends that she needed to shop for paint at Home Depot, Lowe’s or Ace Hardware. Within 15 minutes, Home Depot sent Gard a message on Twitter wishing her luck and telling her to let them know if she needed help.

Days later, when she complained about an ear infection, she got a message from Eardoc, which sells a device for treating ear ailments. The company sent Gard a message saying, “Fast and safe relief for ear infection is Eardoc.”

“I was like, ‘What?” Gard said. “I was really confused. I didn’t even know businesses did that.”

From a Los Angeles Times story today warning companies to start Twittering (or hire consultants and P.R. firms?) to protect their brands:

“There’s a mob mentality to social tools where people quickly try to put fuel on the fire, really encouraging brand damage and damage to individuals,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

A blog entry by Somerville, Mass., programmer Paul Lamere examining how a group of Web enthusiasts were able to precisely manipulate Time magazine’s online poll of the world’s most influential people. Instead of reflecting public sentiment, the poll, for a time, spelled “marblecake also the game”:

It has always seemed to me that such coordinating manipulation was a blunt instrument. The commanded horde could push a specific item to the top of a poll faster than a Kansas school board could lose Darwin’s notebook, but the horde lacked any subtlety or finesse. Sure you could promote or demote an individual or issue, but fine tuned manipulation would just be too difficult. Well, I’ve been proved wrong.

Don’t feel too bad for Jeff Bezos getting Twitsmashed for the miscategorization snafu: The boss is hedged — he’s also an investor in Twitter.

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