This is a different thing, it's spontaneous and it's called (T)wit(ter)

  • 1/28/2009 10:03:00 pm
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones

Despite ourselves, we're still obsessed by Twitter. In fact, it's our brand new favourite thing ever that we'll be bored of by the end of next month. You could say that the entire thing is basically a free help desk where famous people can have an army of geeks solve their technological problems (except in the case of Stephen Fry, where it works the other way round, and is why he should be King Of All Europe). You may prefer to say that it's a hugely pointless waste of time which largely involves sending pretend text messages to people you've never met. You might well put up the opinion that Twitter is to Facebook, as Ceefax is to The Internet. Speaking personally, what with our slightly self-destructive habit of welcoming every little distraction from The Stuff That We Really Should Be Getting On With For The Betterment Of Our Future Selves, it's lovely. We can't help but keep a little Grandstand Vidiprinter-style Twitter window in our peripheral vision when on the office PC.

Our highlights so far include:

  • What with the strict 160-character limit on messages, it really does make for good exercise at writing concisely. As this blog (and indeed, sentence) will attest, we're perpetually addicted to using dozens of long words when we'd be much better served just typing out three. Having to spend minutes trying to re-edit a message in order to trim it by five characters, while (and this is very important, because we have standards which MUST BE KEPT) not using horrid txt spk or skimping on punctuation, makes for a fun little puzzle.

  • Miscellaneous thoughts plucked from the head of Charlie Brooker, and plonked straight into your Twitter client. In Monday's G2 column, you're only likely to see the best couple at the foot of the page. Twitterers get to see what is practically a live feed of scatological whimsy.

  • Stephen Fry being funny enough to elicit an audible chuckle at the very least three times per day, often much more.

  • The Daily Show's resident expert and They Might Be Giants' deranged millionaire John Hodgman chipping in with occasional reminders why every family in the English-speaking world should own at least two copies of his book 'The Areas of My Expertise' (and probably his 'More Information Than You Require' as well, though we haven't got around to that one yet).

  • Us getting all excited when Russell Brand adds us to his "following" list. It later turns out that this is actually an imposter using a similar username (rustyrocket) to the real Russell Brand (rustyrockets), who has copied over the names of 2000 people from real Brand's 'followers' list. He Would Have Got Away With It If It Weren't For Those Meddling Kids #1: Real Brand posts messages like "[I am] not vegan yet, i eat cheese made from my own milk, however i am farmed inhumanely and shall report myself to the UN at dawn.". Fake Brand posts messages like "I am looking sexy, I need more mirrors in my chamber", which is pretty much getting it all wrong. He Would Have Got Away With It If It Weren't For Those Meddling Kids #2: Russell Brand knows how to spell his own name -

  • Popjustice and Sweeping The Nation both popping up at various points during the working day to recommend lovely (and not-so-lovely) online pop tunes. Our fave so far: Neil Hannon's brilliant track about cricket. If you liked "Your Woman" by White Town, this should tickle your like-glands too.

  • Peter Serafinowicz replying to us (yes, specifically us), asking about Spotify after we'd suggested it would be a good place to find Philip Glass stuff. It's possible he was being a bit sarcastic in his reply and he'd already been using it for weeks (we're genuinely not sure, it's more likely he wasn't), but in any event someone else nicked the Spotify invite code we'd posted up for him. Tsk, eh?

  • Phil Schofield brilliantly getting all excited about Tweeting live on ITV1, and about lots of other things in general. He even gives Twitterers live updates on how This Morning is going when he's not on camera. "ITV have given me a computer in the studio! I'm on the set now! I'm being encouraged! Gonna tweet during the show!!!!!"

  • Robert Popper putting up lovely links with which to brighten up the day.

  • Graham Linehan posting a live commentary on himself watching the extended version of Tropic Thunder as we're typing these very words.

That's mostly from the last 24 hours, and we haven't even got onto the subject of people contacting us about stuff yet. Look, it's top fun, and everyone should take part in it, just like they should with online FIFA '09 and silhouette pornography.

So: who's the most famous out of everyone in Twitterdom? Probably Barack Obama or Paris Hilton or someone, if you use the obvious and incorrect criteria of the number of followers. The proper way to measure things is to look at the helpful TweetStats site, which looks at the people attracting the most genuine responses. While most of the 'celebrities' using Twitter are doing it for pure PR purposes (and who don't actually know what it is, because their PR department is maintaining it for them), TweetStats looks at people actually using Twitter. Well-known people excellent enough to actually connect with Johnny (and Jemima) Public.

So: who would be top of that pile going by today's stats?

1. An American blogger called iJustine, who seems to be getting paid by Apple or referral links or something. But ignore her for now.
2. Phillip Schofield! That's more like it.
3. S Fry. We think he'd normally be atop this particular pile, but he spent a lot of the day travelling back from Luxembourg.

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