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.

May 142008

Currently doing some talks about online buzz and the ‘network’ and thought I would share some of those cute charts I threw together to illustrate a few angles. Firstly though just wanted to get out there a simple view/evolutionary map of the track we are on, the out-of-control train without brakes hurtling towards an always-on, networked speck of cosmic dust, we call home. To warm you up before the here and now stuff, some simple jumps to illustrate this continuum (note: step 12 onwards gets a little space cadet! but you will see the link 🙂 –

  1. The dawn of man, the darkest age, little or no communication
  2. The age of non-verbal, small geographically challenged, tribal/family communities
  3. A common verbal language – communities expand, explore and spread ideas very slowly around the globe
  4. Stories, beliefs and knowledge shared slowly via printed material
  5. Life and ideas from one perspective captured on film and played back to many, delayed and editorialized by a select few
  6. Audio stories as opinions spread by a few, live, in real time, one to many via voice only broadcast, radio
  7. Live cameras connect to broadcast towers and satellites, the world focuses on few to many TV – they also plays stored media to increase stickiness
  8. Early copper internet starts to carry text, audio and grainy video, pushed at computer users – web 1.0
  9. Fiber and faster copper broadband gradually makes all stored content immediately available replacing TV and Radio while computers become mobile
  10. Communities form and connect globally albeit asynchronously, leaving ideas around the web to share and expand – web 2.0
  11. The web becomes more and more instantaneous as text, audio and video are always on, and crude virtual worlds for synchronous co-creative interaction – web 3.0
  12. A fork in the road – part of the world goes into vivid real time virtual spaces as fully rendered, photo realistic avatars, their physical bodies mapped in real time from their physical selves – web 4.0
  13. On the other fork mobile interfaces move from the hand driven mobiles to direct brain (thought) connection – everyone on the planet in real time can instantly communicate with everyone else via thought, prefacing the thought with recipient/s, name, friends, family, country, world and voila – web 5.0
  14. Humanity, connected as one consciousness, takes a leap forward to level 2

OK bit of a jump from Twitter to WiFi brain ‘thought chatter’ connectors between us all but you get the gist 🙂 Back to now, somewhere between 10 to 12 and a few slides I have been using alongside the web 2.0 myth image of last year and a few others to be blogged to help illustrate the wonderfully wacky sharing world of web 2.0.

Wonderful Web 2.0 © Gary Hayes 2008

The first diagram above shows the components of web 2.0 with axes of synch/asynch on the horizontal and one to many and many to many on the vertical axis – all of the components can be delivered to the four screens indicated on the top left. It is primarily intended to show that the blue (text/conversation) and purple (richer media) web 2.0 components are often combined to create a well rounded social network portal. The yellow blocks are messengers, digg and rss which act as glue and navigation.

This series of diagrams below, spheres of influence, below is a quick stab showing at a very high level (read: 101 for newbs) how web 2.0 services cause flocking, sharing and interconnectivity.

Here we have the people (ok my pic of Central Station in NY!), a friend and family core and ripples of connection/separation spiralling outwards.

A metaphoric web over the top – ideally a 3D diagram would make more sense but this suggests a network.

Connections are limited to one-to-one (eg: person to company or property) in a non-web 2.0 world

The addition of three example web 2.0 components of video and photo sharing plus combination social network shows how a flocking occurs as well as more interconnectivity stimulated through those portals. Obviously the components would be interconnected and overlap etc:

Showing how ‘you’ via your blogs, pod and vod casts, tweets, comments and ratings generate links to and from you. The more active you are the more you grow and strengthen the ‘neural’ connections.

A final diagram meant to illustrate the simple idea that once you are established as a micro web 2.0 component you generate specific links directly to you – likely to be niche interest.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2008