I was aware that there were more women tweeting than men, but this chart surprised by the extent ... but nearly as much as to see how men are much more likely to use aggregating services like Reddit and Digg.
A Twitter meme that passed by my eyes last night was called #junkfoodnovels - the challenge being to adjust the name of a book with a not-particularly-respectable food item. Thus, options include The Sound and the McFlurry, Lord of the Fries and Clan of the Gummi Bears.
I chipped in my own .. not being able to resist this kind of a challenge.
Horton Hears a Yoo-Hoo To Have and Have Nacho Mrs. DalloMilkyWay À la recherche du temps perMountain Dew The (After) Eight Oryx and Cake (although I nod my head to the smarter brain who came up with Oreos and Cake) The Man With the Cooked to a Golden Perfection Arm The Adventures of Kavalier and KFC The Lord of the Ring-o-Los
I attended the latest St. John's tweetup tonight, as a panelist set up as part of Culture Days by Dale Jarvis. For fun, I had Dale - that's him in the middle - and my fellow panelists Jennifer Barnable and Elling Lien engage in a little social media catch-up time. Don't worry; it's a set-up. We actually did talk together, although a tweetup is one of those times when it's quite normal to see people in the crowd unapologetically tap on their phones while they listen!
The shirt on TeeFury today is about Japan, and was scheduled long before the earthquake and tsunami that caused so much damage last week. It's intended to be a play on Twitter's fail whale - the title of the shirt is Swell Well - but it has an inadvertent amount of meaning.
If you look at a landscape and come back a day later, nothing seems to change. A month? Possibly. A year? Definitely maybe.
How about a century, then? Our first site this week involves photography that is about place, change and perspective.
Hyperfocalpoint Hyperfocalpoint is a collaborative venture involving photographers Ian Vatcher and Duncan de Young, the latter of whom put together a portfolio called A Century Later: 1909-2009. The collection is absolutely absorbing.
In the first image, you see de Young’s great-grandfather, posed by a rocky vista in Brigus. Click on the image, and the black-and-white tones of a century ago give way to bright, vivid colours, with de Young taking the place of his ancestor.
Similar projects have been staged over the years, including here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I find that the technique never gets old, as it were. There’s something remarkable in seeing a well-worn road of several generations ago become effectively grown over, with the slightest hint of a path left behind. Or, in a picture of St. John’s, a vivid description of how neighbourhoods can change with a key marker remaining intact.
I love the project, and am looking forward to what else this site may have.
Elsewhere this week
Seaquence This is the most curious thing I’ve played with this week: a sonic exploration that’s as much a game as it is a novelty or a way of understanding how music works. To play, as it were, you select what looks like a sea critter, and make some choices about octave, melody, volume and more. Things get really interesting when you add second and further creatures, and the sounds becoming increasingly complex. If you like what you’ve made, you can save it. Very intriguing. What Happened in My Birth Year You obviously can’t remember what was happening in the year you were born. You were, of course, just an infant, and your mind was not on current affairs and such. So, with this site, you type in your year, and the screen slowly dissolves before presenting you with an essay on your year. Then, things get interesting. An essay, of sorts, types itself before your eyes. I found this amusing for a few seconds, and then, well, slow. Maybe I read more quickly than they expect! On the other hand, you can click on it, go do something else, and come back and read the works when it’s finished.
Epicurious app iTunes, Android Epicurious has been a kingpin on the web for many years, pushing aside challenges from celebrity food sites, corporate kitchens and upstart bloggers alike. The food tends to be a little fancy-schmancy, but it deserves its stellar reputation. The companion app for smartphones is a breeze to use, and appetizing on the eyes. Free for download from iTunes, and a version is now available for Android phones, too.
Guy Kawasaki Guy Kawasaki is one of the many smart people who worked at Apple Computer – he was called chief evangelist, which I bet looks dandy on a business card – and now is working independently. I doubt Kawasaki needs the money, but he’s as deeply engaged in things as he must have been with Apple. His Twitter feed is one of my favourites, simply because I learn something new (and occasionally amazing) from him several times a week. What more can you ask?
Einstein blackboard generator Albert Einstein had one of the most recognizable faces of the 20th century, and one of the most respected minds. And now, thanks to this bit of tomfoolery, you can make light of that respected image and craft your own personalized message. Here’s the deal: it starts with a familiar photograph of Einstein at a blackboard; the generator lets you pick out the words he’s supposedly writing in chalk. (I put some lyrics for Lukey’s Boat.) Have fun. Einstein seems to have had such a warm sense of humour, he might even have appreciated it.
I've been a bit of an apostle for Twitter in the CBC newsroom in St. John's, to the point sometimes that eyes roll once I get going. Nonetheless, the @cbcnl feed is flourishing, and more and more of my colleagues have come on board. (An aggregated list can be seen here.)
The best set of arguments I've ever seen for why Twitter matters to journalism appeared Friday on the Guardian's site, with editor Alan Rusbridger laying out each point. The piece is an excerpt from a lecture, and here's the first argument:
1) It's an amazing form of distribution
It's a highly effective way of spreading ideas, information and content. Don't be distracted by the 140-character limit. A lot of the best tweets are links. It's instantaneous. Its reach can be immensely far and wide.
Why does this matter? Because we do distribution too. We're now competing with a medium that can do many things incomparably faster than we can. It's back to the battle between scribes and movable type. That matters in journalistic terms. And, if you're trying to charge for content, it matters in business terms. The life expectancy of much exclusive information can now be measured in minutes, if not in seconds. That has profound implications for our economic model, never mind the journalism.
This past weekend, the missus packed a picnic lunch, the kid picked out some road tunes and I filled up the tank with gas. We didn’t’ actually use that much, mind you. Cupids, after all, is barely an hour outside St. John’s.
That said, it was a pretty transporting daytrip, in part because of the fete that Cupids is putting on to celebrate its 400th anniversary. We’re planning at least one more trip before the summer is out – there were things still on our list, and we saw plenty that we wanted to explore.
Cupids 400 With some solid government support and private sponsors, Cupids 400 has a website worthy of the significance of the event – the first planned English settlement in what is now Canada. This is your anchor, whether or not you can make the trip.
At the very least, learn about John Guy, the Cupers Cove colony founded in 1610, and remarkable stories involving the archeology and scholarship that have flourished in recent years.
If you can make the trip, this site is the best place to start. You’ll get a sense of what you can see, including the brand-new Legacy Centre, which is a terrific community museum. (The online component isn’t quite there yet, but I’m hoping that can be beefed up.) You can also read some of the background of the digs that have put Cupids on the archeological map lately.
Cupids Cove Chatter Chatter uses a blog format for quick updates on what’s happening around the community, which has been decked out for the summer. Cupids and its neighbours are hosting numerous activities – concerts, plays, get-togethers, you name it – well beyond the standard tourism centre. I’ve been kept abreast of Chatter postings thanks to the diligent work of Twitter friend Margaret Ayad, who has helped keep Cupids top of mind for a whole online community. Meanwhile, look for lots of links, including a Flickr group to see what’s been going on so far.
New World Theatre Project Rabbittown Theatre of St. John’s has branched out to Cupids for this season, with a program that’s kind of ambitious: it’s staging two Shakespearean plays, plus three originals (including a dinner theatre). We caught three of the productions in a single day, including the effervescent Chris Driedzic’s brief one-man show on the fire that destroyed the legendary Globe theatre. You can find out about productions and times here.
Elsewhere this week
Twitter of the Day Earlier this winter, the people who count such things announced that 50 million tweets were moving into the ether every single day. Woof. Even if you follow a moderate number of people or organizations, it’s impossible (and, to be blunt, just not a good idea) to keep up with everything they say. The appeal of Twitter of the Day is that particularly clever or insightful or colourful things get picked for you.
15 Things You Should Know About Breasts Sounds dirty, but boy, is it not. This infographic is packed with information that everyone should know, but given that it’s published by OnlineSchools.org, I suspect it’s meant mainly for older students, and particularly boys at that. Some inaccurate assumptions about smoking, cosmetic surgery and breastfeeding get the fact-checking they’ve had coming. This is a great public health tool, but it may not please all parents or grown-ups, nor is it appropriate for young kids. [UPDATE: This link is no longer active.]
Lost map It didn’t have a name, but the Island on Lost sure saw a lot of action, from a plane crash to a temple to a freighter exploding into bits just offshore. Fans of the recently concluded TV show will be intrigued to see what a Virginian mapmaker named Jonah M. Adkins came up with after (apparently) following the show quite closely – a map with many of the key settings, from Jacob’s cave to Jughead to the various Dharma stations. Look for links to buy a copy, plus notes from the mapmaker himself.
Most regular Twitter users have seen enough of the fail whale - the charming illustration that pops up to basically mask the fact that Twitter can't handle its traffic loads. Why, then, not serve up some cake for those idle moments? As seen here.
A year or so ago, when the Twitter bandwagon was ramping up to warp speed, I read no end of things advising on how to get massive influence on the social network. The bottom line: follow few, get followed by many.
The thinking was that your influence boiled down to a ratio. If many, many more people followed you than you followed – that is, if thousands of people subscribed to your feed, while you only viewed the feeds of a comparatively small percentage of that number – then you were considered to have a great deal of influence.
My view of that theory: it’s garbage. As a journalist, I’m naturally and indeed professionally curious. I want to have access to information, and lots of it; why would I only want to be limited to a small few?
I understand why people keep limits on the number of feeds they follow. After all, your home feed can quickly become swamped with tweets, many of which will be anything but important.
However, there are methods to sift through your feeds. Last fall, Twitter itself made things a whole lot easier by establishing a lists feature. I use several lists, so I can keep track of things by categories (journalism, news, magazines, local Twitter users, and so on).
I had already been doing this through HootSuite, a program which has made managing Twitter a breeze. The lists function is now fully integrated. I used to use TweetDeck, which worked fine, although I find HootSuite much faster and less likely to get gummed up.
In other words, the argument that a high number of follows is a negative makes absolutely no sense. I’ve noticed that some of the Twitter apps that measure influence are now more concerned about things like reach (how your network can in turn reach more users), generosity (how often you retweet the messages of others) and engagement (how often you discuss things with others, and vice versa).
The buzz and novelty of Twitter are fading away, but it’s becoming a part of daily life and communication for millions (about 20 million different users last month). Maybe you want to have an Oprah-like level of influence; more than likely, you just want to have a network of friends and others with similar interests.
As I’ve been developing my own network, I’ve taken time to spread my wings out, with follows of people I don’t know at all, but who I hope will help serve one of my ultimate goals on Twitter: learning something I didn’t know before.
That, for me, far outweighs any idea of “influence” that downplays the significance of follows. Indeed, that very thinking runs counter-clockwise to key principles of social networks: sharing, exchange, collaboration and conversation.
Elsewhere this week
Cork’d Not sure about that bottle of wine at the liquor store? Do some consumer research of your own, and run it past the user-submitted wine reviews here. You’re especially welcome to chip in your own later on.
Behind The Name If a baby is in your future, you may be getting some advice on naming from friends, families and colleagues. This is a site that explains where hundreds of names from around the planet come from, and what they mean.
5min The idea behind the tutorial-minded video site 5min is that you’ll only need five minutes to learn, say, how to make ice cream at home, or add some bass effects next time you and the crew are doing some beatboxing. In other words, something for everyone.
Make Wee It sounds like what two-year-olds say when it’s bathroom time, but Make Wee is actually just a way to make avatars (that is, cartoon-like representations of yourself) suitable for the Wii, or otherwise.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's, and works with CBC News in St. John's. John is on Twitter right here.
Late adopter, fast follows: Bill Gates joined Twitter on Tuesday, gaining a whopping 100,000 followers in his account's first hours. That means Gates was picking up more than 200 followers every minute. By this morning, Gates's follower count had tripled.
Dan Hill is as sick and tired of his 1970s monster single Sometimes When We Touch as any of his critics. In an illuminating piece in Maclean's, Hill revealed he wrote the words when he was 19, to impress a girlfriend who didn't care much for the song, nor for him. "I’ve long ago grown more than a little weary of my signature hit—its
lyrics now about as relevant to me as a poem or diary entry a teenager
might have scrawled out in high school—and its refusal to go gently
into that good night," Hill wrote.
Some disability rates among Canada's public servants have been mounting, with depression cited as an area of special concern, says an article this month in the Ottawa Citizen. "In the public service, mental health claims
doubled between 1991 and 2007 and now account for 45 per cent of all
claims," the article reported.
The Italian government is poised to start regulating what its residents can watch online. The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose private escapades have made for international headlines, plans in early February to start regulating what is on YouTube. It's worth noting that Berlusconi happens to own a broadcasting empire, and has a vested interest in where Italian eyeballs are directed.
and British military officials learned this week that gunsights on some
of the weapons their soldiers used in Iraq and Afghanistan are engraved with symbols
such as JN8:12, which refers to the Biblical verse of John 8:12 ("When
Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I
am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in
darkness, but will have the light of life.") Trijcon, the U.S.
manufacturer, explained the engravings on its principle of operating by
what it called "Biblical standards."
Why is #teamconan one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter right now? Probably because most people recognize a hijacking when they see one, and agree with Conan O'Brien that it's not right to punish him for Jay Leno's failure in prime time.
Small wonder someone got to the "HItler learns ..." meme and gave it yet another twist.
The Christmas season kicked into gear this week at our house: the Santa parade downtown on Sunday, and on Tuesday, a multiple number of things: the opening of the advent calendar, a hectic but tasty Festive Special at Swiss Chalet (a true marker, for our family) and the first chapter of Kevin Major’s The House of Wooden Santas, an advent calendar in its own right, albeit in hardcover.
Many of the social cues in our house are made by our nine-year-old son, who already has a list of things needed for a complete Christmas. I’m not sure if the weather will co-operate with one of them, but his snowman-in-a-box kit stands by at the ready.
Christmas customs and traditions From a site called Why Christmas? comes this collection of explanations of many of the things – from pointsettias to pudding – that we find around us at this time of the year. Curious young minds (and, yep, the older ones) will learn plenty of things here. There’s more to be found, too: check out the navigation bar on top to see how Christmas is celebrated in dozens of countries, as well as some fun and games, such as a drag-and-drop way to virtually decorate a tree.
Christmas in France The above link will tell you about Christmas in plenty of countries (including, to my surprise, China), while this one focuses at length on French customs and traditions, including a history of the Christmas tree that’s pretty detailed.
Woodland’s Advent Calendar The Woodland junior school in Kent, England, has earned a reputation worldwide for offering an annual online advent calendar that is as engaging as it is fun. Each day, a new fact about Christmas around the world will be unveiled, so bookmark it for repeat visits.
My musical advent calendar I like online advent calendars so much, I started my own. Each day through the season, I’ll be writing about some of my favourite Christmas albums and songs. Check it out through the season, and send me your suggestions!
Cookie sheet advent calendar You can make your own advent calendar, of course, with simple materials. I saw one online made with matchboxes and fabrics that looked surprisingly fancy. This one is appealing for families with busy kitchens: decorate (and sacrifice) a cookie sheet, and use metallic objects for the fun. You’ve missed a few days, but you can still have a blast with the kids.
Brainfroth advent calendar Lots of websites are adapting the advent calendar theme this year, as always; I’m going to be following this science-minded blog’s revelation of information (starting with an explanation of caffeine) through the month.
HGTV decorating ideas Got a bag of red candies, some glue and a Styrofoam wreath? (Don’t worry: I have none of those things, either.) The decorating maniacs at the specialty channel HGTV have that and many other ideas for sprucing up the house, with step-by-step galleries to guide the way.
Elsewhere this week
Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody A good sign that the Muppets still have a huge following? Their hilarious take on Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody attracted eight million views on YouTube in its first week, largely through word of mouth. Gonzo & co. make the song family friendly, too, by having Animal handle (well, skip over by way of mangling) the more contentious lyrics, about Mama, a trigger and such. In other words, something even the youngest can enjoy, including Beaker’s high notes, and Sam the Eagle handling the line (“No, no, no, no, no!”) that in almost seems to have been written just for him.
Big Ben on Twitter How do you know when it’s, say, 3 p.m. in London? This Twitter feed tells you, like so: “Bong. Bong. Bong.” Genius. (I’ve spared you the all-caps treatment it uses, but the most famous, and one of the loudest, clocks in the world is entitled to get your attention.)
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's, and is currently on leave from his job with CBC News in St. John's. John is on Twitter right here.
The evenings are dark now, but that hasn’t stopped our family from trying to get out when we can for a healthy walk. The first site on this week’s web tour is all about the St. John’s-area network that has transformed how many of us spend our leisure time.
Grand Concourse The Grand Concourse is an ambitious project launched by philanthropist Paul Johnson and his family’s foundation, and now includes a network of trails and guided walks that crisscross the city and into neighbouring municipalities. Many of the trails are old and well-established, but have been upgraded to terrific shape because of the Grand Concourse’s work.
The website underwent a recent overhaul, and has plenty to offer, including suggestions on walks of varying skill levels and lengths, with complementing maps and photos. Among other things, it makes good use of mashups with Google Maps, so you can get a good idea of where a given route will take you.
While it’s nice to see a more robust web presence, I’d suggest a few things. For instance, it would be terrific to be able print simple, clean sheets on each hike. As well, the organization could develop a greater sense of community by inviting participants to get involved, and using user-generated tools for photo-sharing, hike descriptions, etc. After all, the Grand Concourse, which holds not just one local gem but many, is all about public participation.
Elsewhere this week
Scribd Scribd is fast becoming a popular application all over the web, probably because it’s easy for users. It produces Flash-powered embeddable documents, which means that rather than linking to a PDF, you can put it right in your blog or website, and the reader can see scroll or tab through the whole thing. The document can be as a big as a book or as small as a brochure; that’s up to you. Better yet, it can be shared, which can help let your content move around the web, if you’re cool with that. It’s a handy way to bring something like a PowerPoint presentation to the individual level, as well. Heavy users range from major publishers, like technology gurus like O’Reilly Media, to small businesses.
Photoshop Disasters Photoshop Disasters made the news this fall when one of its routine posts – they all involve errors and distortions that somehow made their way to print – royally ticked off fashion company Ralph Lauren. The blog had merely pointed out that a particular model has sci-fi-style proportions, winding up with an impossibly skinny waist. When other sites, including the wonderful Boing Boing, raised hackles, Ralph Lauren went to its corner and had a boo-hoo. Fortunately, Photoshop Disasters is still plugging away, pointing out the sublime and ridiculous.
Swampland Time magazine may never be able to shake its image as being stuffier than a starched shirt, but that hasn’t stopped it from running a political blog with plenty of bounce. Swampland is a collaborative project by the magazine’s writers, with frequently updated posts on each day’s political news, with an unsurprisingly hefty emphasis on Washington. (It’s not called Swampland for nothing.) I subscribe to the daily email alert, for reminders to check out new content.
Snapbird Because Twitter’s in-house search system only allows seven days of access, along comes Snapbird, which lets you comb through many weeks of tweets – as long as they were made by friends or those you’ve marked as favourites. A handy tool for locating something you read weeks or months ago.
Little Wheel Imagine a robot world where the machines have been sleeping, for lack of a better, word, for 10,000 years. A lightning strike reanimates one of them, and in this charming little game, your job is to get everything back on the go, one step at a time. If you’re confounded, you can take a little cheat and click on Walkthrough … but I bet you’ll love figuring out as much as you can on your own.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's, and is currently on leave from his job with CBC News in St. John's. John is on Facebook right here. John is on Twitter right here.
British author and actor Stephen Fry remains one of the most influential people on Twitter. This week, he told a convention in London that he advises a website in advance that hes's going to recommend them, lest they crash. Fry, a notorious early-adopter of technology since the early 1980s, commented, "If I do recommend a site it has to be capable of something like 1,000
hits a second ... It's like a DOS (denial of service attack) on people's servers and
it's terrible." As of this morning, Fry's Twitter account had just over 990,000 followers.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which launched earlier this week, seems set to top sales records for videogames. In its first 24 hours on the market, the game sold 4.7 million copies - which works out to about 3,264 copies per minute.
John Hodgman, who plays PC in Apple's long-running "I'm a Mac" campaign, is in fact a longtime Mac user himself. The author and Daily Show contributor nonetheless gets accolades from Windows types. In an interview this week, he told the Miami Herald, "The flip side is I am also approached by people who use PCs, and to
them I'm a folk hero. . . . I'm a little sheepish about it. I want to
ask, `You understand who's paying for these ads, right?' ''
Nitrous oxide had been known for more than 70 years to make people giddy and foolish at parties before anyone thought about it as an anasthetic. A dentist at a party in Connecticut in 1844 observed that a man who suffered a gash on his leg was literally feeling no pain.
Watch out, jellyfish: researchers working on a dive in the Red Sea found evidence that coral consume jellyfish. Their findings are published in the journal Coral Reefs. Mmmm ... jellyfish.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.