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Archives: June 2010

Addition By Adoption: Kids, Causes And 140 Characters

A work-at-home dad turns to Twitter to share updates about kids, causes and life. It’s a curated selection of bizarre quotes, funny stories and temper tantrums. Woven between potty-training woes and breakfast time songs is a family growing through adoption and learning how to change the world, one status update at a time.

Written by Kevin Hendricks (@kevinhendricks), Addition By Adoption is a great read – laugh-out-loud funny in parts, whilst touching and moving in others. Certainly if you’re a parent, this will have a lot of appeal.

The concept of sharing your story via tweets is clever and I think will become pretty commonplace in years to come.

Visit Kevin’s site to purchase, or pick up a copy at Amazon. A portion of all sales (or donations) will go toward building a well in Ethiopia.

Twitter Launches Internal URL Shortener, Throws Bit.ly A Bone

From the official blog:

Since early March, we have been routing links within Direct Messages through our link service to detect, intercept, and prevent the spread of malware, phishing, and other dangers. Any link shared in a Direct Message has been wrapped with a twt.tl URL. Links reported to us as malicious are blacklisted, and we present users with a page that warns them of potentially malicious content if they click blacklisted links. We want users to have this benefit on all tweets.

When this is rolled out more broadly to users this summer, all links shared on Twitter.com or third-party apps will be wrapped with a t.co URL. A really long link such as http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048 might be wrapped as http://t.co/DRo0trj for display on SMS, but it could be displayed to web or application users as amazon.com/Delivering- or as the whole URL or page title. Ultimately, we want to display links in a way that removes the obscurity of shortened link and lets you know where a link will take you.

In addition to a better user experience and increased safety, routing links through this service will eventually contribute to the metrics behind our Promoted Tweets platform and provide an important quality signal for our Resonance algorithm–the way we determine if a Tweet is relevant and interesting to users. We are also looking to provide services that make use of this data, an example would be analytics within our eventual commercial accounts service.

Already using your own URL shortener for analytics? Don’t worry – they’ve got that covered.

If you are already partial to a particular shortener when you tweet, you can continue to use it for link shortening and analytics as you normally would, and we’ll wrap the shortened links you submit.

Sounds sensible. And the wrapping means that reports of bit.ly’s demise might have been greatly exaggerated. Which is good news for me, as my tailored URL shortener is ticking along nicely.

(Source: Twitter blog.)

Revealed: The Most Beautiful Tweet Ever Tweeted (At Least, According To Stephen Fry)

The most beautiful tweet the world has ever seen has been announced by @stephenfry at The Hay Festival (@hayfestival), an annual literature event that takes place in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, in Wales.

It’s cute. The winner, Marc MacKenzie (@marcmack), is from Canada, and entered no-less than 35 times. You can read all of his entries here.

A little excessive, perhaps. When asked about this approach, MacKenzie explained that it “was hard to choose one as when I come up with a good one, I’m proud of them.”

(Source: BBC.)

The Twitter Effect: Mashable vs TechCrunch vs BoingBoing

In May 2009, @Mashable, @TechCrunch and @BoingBoing were about equal as three of the biggest blogs on the planet. Each had about 1.85-1.90 million unique visitors in that month.

Fast-forward just a year later, and everything has changed. BoingBoing has dropped almost a million visitors, TechCrunch has gone nowhere, and Mashable has gained a million.

Why? Twitter.

@Mashable has over two million followers. Twitter started to really take off early in 2009, and Mashable totally capitalised. Twitter has easily become their primary focus point – they write a ton of Twitter content, and share heavily on the network. (As a comparison, Mashable has ‘just’ 207 thousand fans on Facebook – a tenth of the network size.)

@TechCrunch has a little under 1.4 million followers, but they don’t push anywhere near as hard as Mashable does on Twitter. That said, it’s enough to keep them in the game. (54,210 Facebook fans.)

@BoingBoing has just 43,219 followers. And doesn’t push hard at all. Indeed, BoingBoing isn’t even on Facebook. Which suggests to me that they either don’t really get the value of social media, or don’t think that they need it. For example – they don’t even use a retweet button on their blog.

After all, let’s face it – BoingBoing and Mashable aren’t all that different. Both are heavy recyclers of external content (although Mashable does write a lot more original material – TechCrunch is almost all original material and opinion). The main difference is Mashable is very much more attuned to the modern social media audience, both in content and presentation. Indeed, they made dramatic, intentional adjustments to capitalise on that audience shift.

BoingBoing did nothing. And until they realise that, and want to change, their numbers are probably only going to get worse. They’re still thinking old-school – Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Stumbleupon. And while you can still get some traffic spikes from those sources, it’s very much on the wane, and doesn’t begin to compare to the Terminator-like, never-ending, cannot-be-stopped onslaught of Twitter.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know this is Compete, and yes, I know that this mostly represents US traffic. But unless you can prove to me that the relationship between these numbers is dramatically different around the world – and can show me where you get those numbers – it’s largely a moot point.)

When The Going Gets Weird

Twitter is a fantastic resource. It’s also a fantastic place to be.

Most of the time.

This week, more than any other in recent memory, I’ve been reminded that, much like any other large social network or internet gathering, it’s becoming home to a lot of others, too.

You know – good, old-fashioned weirdos.

A few days ago I received a message from one user who announced that he was blocking me because I “retweeted garbage about panties”. I’ve never seen or heard of this individual before, and we’ve had absolutely zero interaction. But clearly panties were his limit. Forget anything I’ve ever done in the past.

Another guy couldn’t wait to tell me how I was clearly “too stupid” for having an opinion that differed to his own, and was nice enough to deliver it via an open tweet.

At least half-a-dozen other folks thought it would be fun to come oozing out of the woodwork and try to nuke me with almost completely random bursts of spittle, profanity, dogma and strangeness.

When faced with these kinds of situations, you have to remember a couple of things.

  1. Be nice
  2. Be professional
  3. The block is your friend

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Remember: if you’re polarising opinion, you’re doing it right. You should expect (and welcome) different points of view. But you also need to set yourself limits, because allowing yourself to be endlessly exposed to negativity isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Be a pro. And when in doubt, block first, and ask questions later. The weird are always going to be out there, waiting, but you’re under no obligation to give them even a moment of your time.

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