Mar 192009

Complexity iPhone Camerakit App 22Ever since I joined Twitter (GaryPHayes) I have been fascinated by the subtle ‘etiquette’ of being followed, following and timely updates (as well as the enormous growth and creative potential twitter now affords). It is also interesting watching those traditional media brands and celebrities with a non-twitter and web 2.0 online reputation enter into the fray. What effect do they have? Do they corrupt this young new channel before it has found it’s own feet or is the invasion of old brands and celebs part of its maturation?

Laurel Papworth has far more in-depth coverage of this movement and etiquette across many and various posts on her main blog here but one thing became evident to me as traditional media and celebrities started to ‘infiltate’ Twitter – the instant emergence of old world, short head, long tail distribution. Those brands (individual and companies) already popular in other media on setting up in twitterville started to gain followers like magnets, they swarmed to them – in many cases regardless of what they were tweeting (film and pop stars particularly). We also see old form media channels such as news updates, emerging as useful ‘feeds’ and gaining instant popularity too. Merging with all these are the new stars, traditional bloggers find the transition to micro-blogging easy and so on and so on…

As Twitter has an open API the stats are relatively easy to pull out and there are quite a few sites that do much better analysis than mine below such as TwitterFacts blog, Damon Cortesi and TweetStats. For my little effort below thanks to Twitterholic and its dynamically updated top 1000 (based on followers), I was able to do a quick big picture overview – data taken on the 17 March 2009 !. Before we dig down into the charts themselves a quick high level stat on the Top 1000 tweeters

The top 1000 tweeters have generated 3.45 million tweets and are following 12 million but being followed by 35 million. (note: followers and followings are of course not unique, but the updates/tweets are)

The first chart is what I simply call the  Twitter Long Tail. Starting at the far left with top tweeters CNN Breaking News and Barack Obama at 543k and 486k respectively we move across to the 1000th top tweeter in the world Brad Will with just under 8k followers. I have highlighted a few random tweeters in-between for reference – key thing to note of course is the obvious almost perfect Long Tail shape (I would imagine over time this would smoothe even more – we are still early days)


The highlighted selection here include world renowned bloggers Robert Scoble and Darren Rowse (problogger), passionate artistes Imogen Heap and Stephen Fry, TV getting in on the act Ellen Show and Letterman plus trad media and social media folk. It is interesting for example that The Ellen Show Twitter ID appeared on the 16 March and generated around 200 000 followers off the back of one show – sadly there were only a handful of updates and virtually no following back, a poor user experience – traditional media really needs to make sure it doesn’t corrupt these ‘delicate’ new media channels as it so often does and then tells everyone they don’t really work!

While we are on the global view worth noting that adding all the followers up (thats means each persons follower amount) we end up with 35 million (remember that will contain many duplicates). The point though is to demonstrate the short head’ness here where followers are effectively a ‘rating’ (abstract) of popularity.

Of that 35 million totalled followers

  • 55% are in the top 100
  • 67% are in the top 200 and
  • 85% are in the top 500

To demonstrate this rather spookily smoothe long tail curve I removed the top 50 (that have rather exponentially big figures) and looked at the top 50-500. I started to think also here about the number of updates – do updates bring in followers or is it all about pre-twitter trust and reputation – of course its a to be calculated mix of the two of them – but look below at updates and position…
I went further down this road and looked at the top 100 and their update distribution – the spikes are named. Fascinating again to see that updates do not equal popularity (OK that’s obvious and I will stop labouring that one) but there is a significant high amount of updates going on the in 13-30 areas – remember though we are looking at the creme-de-la-creme of tweeters here and might be too ‘zoomed in’ for meaningful insight?


If your still with me, for reference, here is a quick snapshot of the top 50 World tweeps based purely on following (now you can go and follow them all!). As I keep saying this is not the whole story as we can see – for example CNN following 1 person (is pure broadcast) and Al Gore with only 14 updates (is pure pre-twitter reputation – or 14 amazing world shattering tweets?! – I will go with the former). Of course automated tweeting is rife and there are many in the top thousand who have or are resorting to bots to send messages in their ‘down time’. More after the list…

Some time ago I thought a twitter quotient that took into account updates/followings too is important and the chart below is the same top 1000 tweeters now ordered by a Gary algorithm (made famous on Twitter Agency and Laurel’s post of Australian Journalists on twitter), which changes the landscape significantly. Reproduced from my little contribution to twitter agency here.

Here is a little formula I just cooked up called the Tweet-GQ (Tweet Gary Quotient) that works out a Twitter rating. To be considered as a valuable system to be used on top 100s etc. Before I go into explanation, here is the secret formula

( ((Following/3)+Followers) x (Followers/Updates) ) / 10

This takes into account the raw numbers of followers weighted over following. More importantly it then has an critical multiplier – that of how many updates you do in relation to the followers you generate. So simply, it rewards high numbers of followers but also takes into account how many tweets or updates it took you to get that many followers.

To do this yourself without needing a degree in pure math (or an online calculator – to be done by someone). Here is a simple 3 step DIY version.

  1. Divide followings by 3 and then add this to followers – write the number down
  2. Divide followers by updates – write the number down
  3. Multiply the two numbers above and divide by ten – et voila. Your very own TweetGQ


Finally and while I am on this twitter topic heres a lovely mosaic of 360 out of my current 1300 followers…seems so insignificant now 🙂 But this shows off the power of open API – each of the faces are clickable and therefore followable – is that a word. Bye for now, see you in the twitterverse.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Dec 202005

Honolulu Sax © Gary Hayes 2005 Given I am travelling, doing the relative-thing and moving home over the next week or so this may be my last blog for the year – I hope not, but in case it is I thought I would finish on a few recent reports on the most significant thing to happen to media in the last year (decade?), user generated video content. Whether you call it vlogging, amateur tv or community video it is starting to nibble at the feet of the broadcasting giants. The trend continues right to the end of the last remarkable 6 months of 2005 where the tide really did begin turn and the democratisation of personal video distribution started in earnest. Blinkx TV (BTW love their moving mosaic on their main web page) have (like TiVo) started to bring their 1 million hours of user video to the portable screen (iPod and PSP etc) with one click

Over the past several months, video blogging has exploded on the Internet, suggesting that many consumers are eager for an alternative to commercial broadcasts. However, this kind of independent content is not widely available at traditional download sites, such as, and what there is, can be difficult to find. With its new To Go service, blinkx is throwing open the doors to a wide variety of new, user-generated video and making it fully searchable and portable with one quick click. To Go enables users to enter a search of video blogs, and with one click, either upload specific results to their iPod or portable video player, or save the search as a “channel”, which is automatically and perpetually updated and fed to their devices, where it can then be viewed as a single media stream. blinkx takes care of all the formatting, regardless of the original file type.

Interesting how the “to go” term seems to permeate everything at the moment in relation to media on your ‘portable’ – some things never change. Another very recent report from MediaWeek refers to our old friend Current TV who with the backing of Al Gore and many VC’s are now in 20 million homes in the US. This is the service if you recall from a previous post is a service that pulls in internet content, of the user generated kind and re-broadcasts it in the traditional way. From the article a good upsum of why UGC is particularly compelling in the reporting genre…

There is an intimacy and authenticity to the reporting that is not often seen on TV, but it is sometimes accompanied by the shaky camera work of novice documentarians. “I like the idea of bringing in viewers to participate, but I question whether they can keep going in that direction when some of the stuff is of questionable production quality,” noted Aaron Cohen, executive vp, director of broadcast, Horizon Media. Others see it in a different light. “As far as the audience is concerned, it might be seen as a positive,” said MediaVest’s Gentner. “It might seem more authentic, less formulaic.” Overall, advertisers have responded favorably to Current, said Anne Zehren, president of sales and marketing: “Every couple of weeks we pick up a new advertiser.” To further differentiate Current from other news media, Zehren’s team offers advertisers what she calls solutions to today’s changing media landscape where commercials can be skipped, or ignored entirely, with a push of a button.

The best barometer of a successful new medium is advertisers realising that eyeballs are shifting and moving their ad dollar, even if they can be skipped. Perhaps the penny has dropped in that they also realise that skipping an ad shows some discrimination on the part of the viewer and that discrimination also means they will watch ads relevant to them. The thing though that connects the three articles in this post is the urge for current, blinkx and the final vlog overview link to push user content into portable devices. It almost seems that personal video content created by ‘normal’ people (that may be stretching it a bit!), exists best on personalized portable devices – as if the more real it is the more it finds a home on peoples ‘life’ devices.

Looking into Current’s future, Neuman said he thinks more than 50 percent of the network’s programming will come from viewers. Hyatt also said he’s in the midst of several broadband deals that will likely distribute Current to cell phones, PSPs and iPods. “I believe Current five years from now will be a global company supplying viewer-created content on multiple platforms,” Hyatt said. “In fact, it will happen before then.”

Australia’s reports on this new thing called vlogging and “citizen journalism” – I am not sure whether the article is slightly tongue-in-cheek given that these things have been around for a year or more!. Still there are some good points in the article which highlights Rocketboom again (I posted about this last week)…

It draws on the utopian dreams of pioneers who envisage a network of citizen journalists across the globe, liberated from the “we know what’s best for you” patronage of established media firms. “People are interested in seeing more of real people — they are kind of getting sick of the very flashy content and want something more down to Earth,” said Amanda Congdon, co-writer and anchor of “Rocketboom”, a wildly successful New York-based vlog.

The really exciting thing now is that these vlogging sites are now starting to look like respectable community TV stations in terms of audience reach – and therefore are becoming ripe for traditional business models, signalled as soon as the advertisers start knocking on the door.

The site, which debuted in 2004, now has 100,000 downloads a day and is alerting advertisers to the potential of vlog entrepreneurs. Those 100,000 pairs of eyes from the United States, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and even Tanzania and Nigeria bring Rocketboom within shouting distance of some of the lower-rated US cable talk shows. An operation like Rocketboom, with its basic set of a table and a map, does not need millions of dollars to go on the air — unlike TV stations.

Unlike TV stations indeed.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

Sep 152005

Opera House © Gary Hayes 2005Quick post from from the Rewind Fast Forward Conference in Sydney (where I am speaking on the 3.30 panel with Microsoft, Sony and Disney). I am currently writing this from the audience in a panel presentation on wireless internet futures which is kind of ironic – as soon as one person in the room discovered the free wireless internet in the hotel all the laptops started to come out and everyone goes into multi-tasking mode, only partly paying attention to the words of wisdom coming from the speakers…Anyway to the point of this post…

One of the new hybrid, transitional models coming out of personalized user generated content is evident in Al Gores Current TV service just started in the US. We (the hybrid media types) have to be very careful as the new user-generated broadband world starts to clash with the old broadcast models – and in the Wired article today this looks squarely rooted in production value issues – we have to be careful in not disenfranchising traditional only consumers with ‘crappy’ badly contextualized re-broadcast web content. I’m off to ring Al Gore now and get him to pull his finger out! It has to get better quickly otherwise the wall will strengthen between user-generated and broadcaster produced – and choices will be made for all the wrong reasons, presentation over story.

An excerpt from the article (link above)

Current TV: Fast but Treacherous
By Niall McKay

Al Gore’s new cable network, Current TV, is a media smorgasbord of quick, slick and sometimes very interesting short-form video segments targeted at the iPod generation. But it often leaves you feeling cheated out of the main course after a tasty appetizer.

The segments, nauseatingly called pods, run between two and five minutes and comprise a mix-and-match of short films, MTV-type snippets and video blogs. Some of the pods are refreshingly authentic and make the youth-oriented programming on MTV and VH1 look vacuous. Others, however, are smug, unsubstantial and even boorish at times, and seem to finish just at the point where they get interesting.

The short format is partly to blame, but one also senses inexperience and lack of judgment on the part of the producers and editors.

Posted by Gary Hayes © 2005