Thursday, 25 June 2009

Michael Jackson. Honestly.

Okay, it's easy to be cynical about the press coverage around Michael Jackson's death, but all I know is I'm still trying to get my head around those 3 words: 'Michael Jackson's death'. And it's not like I'm crying or sad or that I was a particular fan of his later work. But he was the first pop idol that I remember loving, he practically single-handedly legitimised the music video medium - and by extension, MTV - and he's always just 'been there'. I mean, 50 years old??? At a time when people tout 50 as the new 35? What???

It's funny - I think the reason people go mental when icons like Jackson die suddenly is because they act like background beacons - constantly giving out a signal which we miss when gone. So much so that all the platitudes I'm hearing simply don't convey how much emotion is there just swelling up like grief. I remember feeling that when living in London at the time of Princess Diana's death. The connection (because I see reporters asking people, 'why are you connected to him?') is simple - he was one of those beacons, a signal, always present, just a global pulse beat that people continually checked in on because of who and what he was.

I tell you what: I feel like I've been given a piece of information that my internal programming doesn't quite know how to process. I don't have the words, but felt the need to blog...

Does this make sense?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Leave Your #followFriday Stress Behind!

Another Friday is upon us. Even as I type this, thousands of people are constructing their #followFriday recommendations - indeed, the Antipodeans are already sending theirs out. While I love the 'lurve' coursing through the TwitterVerse, it can be a hectic gig. Especially with some of our more Twitterly Correct Police making suggestions on how best to recommend folks, while well intentioned, that actually only makes it worse because people are anxious not to offend people with their recs. 

Recently my good friend @MisterNoodle decided to discontinue the FollowFriday practice altogether. And truth be told, I can't blame him. I've taken to recommending people often throughout the week with the following hashtags (all have been created by me except where indicated):

#FastFollowFive (@RickBakas/@MisterNoodle)
#SlickFollowSix (@StuBakerComedy)

I'll append a #FF to it if I feel like it, but it's not a mandatory thing.

And to those who would ask 'Why am I recommending them?', I say 'Because I do'. I really think it's a bit rude to ask people to justify recommendations. That I do should be enough, and with these numeric limits per hashtag, it should be easy to just look up bios and determine whether or not you want to follow.

Be advised: this may not be for you if your goal is to drive up follow numbers. Once I realised that I couldn't give the proverbial rat's backside, then it all made sense. The clouds parted, and I released my anguish.

Nowadays, I no longer dread Fridays. They've gone back to being the Death of the Week, as God intended, an event to look forward to - not another WorkDay to fret over.

Try these or make up your own - and register them at Tagalus (

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The One Where @Zaibatsu Calls Us All Racists

Today's @Zaibatsu race discussion in Twitter definitely makes me think that America's preoccupation with race is simply dysfunctional.

Just to recap: @Zaibatsu - not exactly a wallflower when it comes to self-expression -  sent the below tweet. 

  • H_normal
    zaibatsuI said aren't we all racists.... Well, I'm black and recently 3 black kids walked into a corner store, I was sacred. I do me best not 2 but.
    about 13 hours ago from TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet

Now, to me, I didn't see anything wrong with someone expressing an opinion like that, and backing it up with further stronger sentiments, even those I don't agree with.  Alas, some folks chose to have aneurysms.  

Needless to say, the topic went viral: so much so that @Zaibatsu actually gave his phone number (a stroke of genius, IMO) so people could call him to discuss. And apparently, a LOT of Twitterers took him up on it - myself included. When we spoke, I stressed the need to distinguish between personal bias and racism. They aren't interchangeable, and it's dangerous to think they are - to do so diminishes what racism actually is and how it presents in organisational and institutionalised forms. It was an excellent exchange, took some points on board, and we left it at that.

So it was disappointing to see @Zaibatsu pursued by the TVPCD - TwitterVerse Politically Correctness Department.  While appreciating Twitter's very strong, Law Of Attraction, 'all is well with the Universe' contingent, some Twitterers went straight for @Zaibatsu's jugular, riffing off tweets like traffic wardens scratching out tickets close to quota time.  

No wonder tweets like the following started appearing:

  • Joepic_normal
    joegerstandtwow...we are just completely dysfunctional when it comes to discussing race in this country. completely. dysfunctional.
    about 3 hours ago from web · Reply · View Tweet

  • (please note: I do not speak for @joegerstandt or his reason for tweeting this sentiment. TY.
NB: Imagine how the rest of the Anglophone world looked on with bemusement, as this kicked off as the Brits were starting their morning, while the Aussies and Kiwis were sorting their dinner!  (It's easy to forget that Twitter isn't exclusively American; when rants like this go on and on, it's an excellent window into American culture which sometimes informs, sometimes amuses, sometimes bewilders.) 

Take this RT from a Twitterer in Britain - a country with numerous ethnic groupings itself:

To be sure, I'm less concerned about us trying to be like other nations, but we Americans have got our work cut out on some massive big-ticket items: our sleeves need to be rolled up and our minds focused as we restore our National Brand, because we're now competing with the likes of India and China for resources on one front as we struggle with the credit-crunch aftermath and provision of basic health care on the other.

So, let's have the conversations, by all means, but you know, sensibly. I especially want to have The One Where We Drop The Hyphen (e.g. Korean-American, African-American, Palin-American) and We All Just Get Over It -  but I digress... 

Friday, 22 May 2009

#FollowFriday Ode for @Sojourner9

His Avatar Calms
Such that I can't Help but Grin

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Haiku Day

Lovers, their kisses Viewed
With No Care How Judges Vote
Liberate their Souls.

Friday, 1 May 2009

The AutoDM: One Tweep's Rant

Yeah, it's a rant... here's the deal: Twitter's auto DM culture has made me very salty. It's like a really bad idea happening to really good people, don't want to know  because you just want to strangle their handles until the vowels pop out! (That's Cynnergist talk for 'Unfollow'.)

On the back of having received so many of these, I couldn't help myself with the following tweet:

I've heard Twitter being compared to a cocktail party, and it's a good metaphor.  You're at a soiree. You don't know anyone, because you heard about it via a friend of a friend of a cousin who's the colleague of a beekeeper. You get it. You go into this room of random conversations, and you size people up by what their clothing and bearing tell you about them (aka Twitter Bios): 

  • the Really Beautiful Girl with inoffensive manners, 
  • The Serious Business Guy with the Armani suit screaming moneymoneymoney, 
  • The Spiritual Guru who's got a sense of humour as she entertains some folks with stories by the buffet table. 
Let's say all 3 look in your direction and you make eye contact with one or all 3 and everyone nods their heads in pleasant acceptance.  This moment would be the equivalent of following and being followed.

Now, would you actually make your next move by walking over to all of these distinct personalities by saying the same thing, like:

“Hi! Increase your followers by 16,000 in 30 days!”


“Go to this link to look at my grandma's new snuggie robe!"

or “Try this product to maximise your potential to a successful run on 'Britain's Got Talent'!

If you're not in the least psychotic, you wouldn't do this. Ever. If you disagree, then have a good weekend with lots and lots of vodka, because you are officially useless; you need to be with other lower primates compatible with your habitat.

While there aren't any fast rules on Twitter (yet), I do think it's prudent to approach the TwitterVerse with the same manners you'd treat people in the physical world. Am I being fussy? Maybe. But am I wrong? I don't think so.

Here are the categories I've seen so far in the DM space:

  • The Polite HalloHallo – This person sends a fairly benign message hoping that you fulfil your inner Dalai Lama and with the sustenance of the Spirit Angels and the books touted on the Oprah Book Club, you evolve into the next incarnation of Buddha/Jesus/Elvis/Soupy Sales. These folks aren't the problem, so if this is you – move on, there's nothing to see here.

  • The 'How Can I Help You?' vibe. These bleeding hearts approach like LOA terrorists, trafficking like businesses, all in the name of friendship - but that's okay, because it's All About You. Please... Chances are if you send out this kind of message, you risk putting people off because you want information from someone without giving ANY about yourself, and by doing it in an automated way, it comes across as banal and insincere and is arguably the phoniest form. At least the businesses are clear in what they're after.  What the heck is your deal? Why do you want to act as if you're my best friend? Why would you make me cry, write mournfully in my journal, listen to My Chemical Romance during the daytime after you make me realise that my life has been so bleak until you reached out to me and CARED about my life??? (Oh, the sadness, more kleenex...).

  • The 'Please go to this site and help my business' vampires. As abhorrent as the emotional hijackers might be, this category inspired the rant, and these folks are making quick progress in lowering the TwitterTone. Think I'm exaggerating? Automated introductions are in aggregate making the Direct Messaging Service unusable because no 3rd party Twitter client can distinguish between automated and manually typed messages. This creates too much inbound messaging noise for the Twitterer with more than, say, 500 follows to actually have off-line conversations without exposing key personal details in public (such as their email accounts or Skype/Gchat Ids) to get around the problem because they can't use the DM inbox. To prove this, how many Twitterers actually state in their bios that they don't return DMs?  Exactly.

So, Difficulty + Rudeness = I Ain't About To Click On ANYTHING You're Talking About.

The RTs and #TwiHighFives supportive of the above tweet suggest that others view this just as passionately. So if you see yourself in this, Beware. Rethink. Enjoy the Weekend. If You Can.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Surprise? What Surprise? Feedback on Obama's 100d Press Conference

Was watching last night while live tweeting - Thought Obama did an excellent presentation. Loved the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny's question: Obama's reaction when writing down 'enchanted' was dead priceless. But here's the thing: the one question that seemed frothy and light, was where I kind of freaked out a bit.. 

Thought the surprise answer was a spectacular fail. BO claimed surprise (35:10) at the number of critical issues that weren't apparent 18 months ago, particularly the financial crisis. What rubbish: the Bear Stearns fund bailout debacle kicked off in June 2007 ultimately culminating in its Federal Reserve-brokered sale to JP Morgan Chase in March 2008 - with Lehman Brothers close on its heels. This was well before the presidential campaigns kicked off, all the candidates should've had a handle on this, and yes I do believe they should have seen this current crisis coming, especially a former candidate who was embraced quite warmly by the financial industry the way BO was.

While I think it's too early to judge the Administration, Obama's condescension towards partisanship and the politics of the Beltway seems petulant and beneath a sitting POTUS - especially coming from a former US Senator. That quirk only underscores how little his Senate career prepared him for his current role. It can't all be Bush's fault (were that it could...) or the fault of politics.

Makes me think of Ellis Cose's brilliant article, "12 Things", where he lists 12 rules of thumb on thriving in America. Number 9 talks about hard work, intelligence, competence not always being enough to get you the results you want. 

"...the general rule is that any organization (government, private business, educational or other) is essentially a social body that rewards those fully engaged in the game. To the extent we try to hold ourselves above that process, we end up losing..."

Obama would do well to commit that to memory. Or at least to his BlackBerry.