LeBron James: Did you hear the Twitter-powered “New York Knicks” chants?

Elsa/Getty Images

I just finished watching an NBA playoffs game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics! One thing that is pretty hilarious is that every time LeBron James was trying to shot free throws, the Celtics crowd would chant “New York Knicks” to distract him. Basketball crowds usually make noises to distract players on the opposite team, but this time, there is so much media attention about Lebron James potentially going to New York to play for the Knicks this summer. For example, this week New York Magazine published several articles discussing why Lebron should go to New York, interviewed celebrities with quotes to encourage Lebron, and even talked to real estate agents who have found potential apartments and homes for Lebron.

The “New York Knicks” chant was a great way to try to distract him, and the best part was that these chants were coordinated by an ESPN writer, Bill Simmons, who created a new Twitter account this week to tell Boston Celtics fans at the game what to chant. Hilarious!

Kudos to Bill Simmons ‘s creative use of Twitter’s real time communications power, and I look forward to seeing more creative uses of social media in the future!

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Twitter’s Future Growth Opportunities

Kaleidescope of Twitter Apps

I have been playing with Twitter for a while now, and I really love this “information network” and have marveled at how such a simple platform has been empowered by millions of peripheral third party tools. These third party tools have completed many needed Twitter functions like sorting conversation channels and uploading pictures which were not enabled by Twitter itself, and they really have made Twitter what it is today. I attribute it all to the beauty of an open source platform in today’s technology world.

Paul Graham predicted in 2001 (2001!), these kinds of light weight and open web-based applications were going to replace heavier, complete desktop apps. In the past ten years, the rise of  Twitter and other neat web applications have proven his prediction to be very true, it is a whole new collaborative world now. I devoted a post in the past on these neat and essential Twitter tools I use, and since then, I’ve been delighted to see many more have emerged. Some of these new tools are different from the previous functional, complementary ones. They seem to have created a whole category that adds more extensional value to Twitter, for example, Twitter feed analytical tools and vertical tools that explore Twitter’s practical applications in certain industries.

One of these new tools I liked very much is called Hush, and it uses people’s Twitter feeds to analyze their personal preferences. I tried it myself and hardly beat the game, and it seemed to be correct most of the time. Besides figuring out the easy questions like whether I had done certain things before, based on mentions in my Twitter feed, Hush can also predict complex ones like how I felt about stem cell research, or I would take the high road or the low road, which I swear I have never explicitly revealed on Twitter. It’s without doubt a very interesting Twitter application, and has huge potential of being used for some serious market research. But at the same time, it also alarmed me how much personal information I have shared in public.

A very insightful blog post published by Tech VC Fred Wilson recently has also reflected on the shifting of the focus of Twitter applications. Wilson pointed out in the post that the inflection point of Twitter applications has arrived, and the focus of third-party Twitter applications is shifting from filling Twitter’s functional holes to creating original value on their own and adding extensional value to Twitter.

Here are five areas from which Wilson predicted that the next generation of Twitter’s killer apps would emerge:

” Social Gaming – There have been a number of attempts to build social game experiences on Twitter. But I’m not aware of any successes of scale like we’ve had on the Facebook platform. I think we will see it emerge soon.

Verticals – We have some successes to point to here like Stocktwits for finance and Flixup for movies but this is a wide open opportunity in most verticals and we haven’t seen as much effort here as I’d have expected.

Enterprise – CoTweet comes to mind as well as the efforts that Salesforce has made to integrate Twitter. This is a huge opportunity.

Discovery – This is one area where there is a significant amount of effort. HunchListorious ,TweetMemeCadmusWeFollow , and MrTweet all come to mind.

Analytics – While Twitter will obviously be delivering better analytics to its users, particularly its marketing and business users, I believe that there is always a market for third party analytics. Google Analytics is available for free and yet none of the large analytics providers have seen their businesses suffer. There is simply a voracious appetite for information on the Internet. So companies like bit.ly,Radian6HubSpotScout Labs , and others have a bright future.”

Very insightful post indeed. Twitter lovers and developers, you better keep an eye out for these areas, because they are where Twitter’s future opportunities lie.

“I just met you, but I love you already!”

Do you still remember the cute dog in Disney-Pixar’s movie “Up”, which had an automated collar that could translate his thoughts into human languages? When he first met the little boy in the movie, he looked at him with a waving tail and happy tongue, saying: “I just met you, but I love you already!”

That was the cutest scene I remember from that movie, and now with the help of a new piece of technology designed by toy company Mattel, your doggie can “tweet” to you.

Here is an excerpt from “Mattel taps into social media craze with Puppy Tweets from the L.A. Times:

“Tapping into the social media craze, toy giant Mattel Inc. is preparing to release Puppy Tweets, a high-tech toy that will allow dogs to publicize their everyday activities on Twitter via a sound and motion sensor.

Attached to a dog’s collar, the plastic tag randomly generates one of 500 canned tweets when it detects barking or movement and automatically posts an update to Fido’s own Twitter page.

A round of woofing could lead to a tweet of “I bark because I miss you. There, I said it. Now hurry home.” A frenzied run through the backyard might garner “I finally caught that tail I’ve been chasing, and . . . OOUUUCHH!” “

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, dog lovers, how cute would that be? Real-time conversations with your doggie, even when you are apart!

Another bit of light-hearted news I came across earlier today (well, considering the nature of the news, maybe light-hearted is not the right word, so please take a moment for a silent tribute and farewell if necessary…after you’ve brushed off the amusement you get from the news) was about people’s response to the imminent death of Internet Explorer 6.

In a report by Techcrunch, a funeral for IE6 will be held by Aten Design Group on March 4. Of all the news I heard recently about the leaving of IE6, this one conferred the most dignity to the departure of this internet veteran that has been with us for almost a decade. Techcrunch cited the following text from the site IE6funeral.com:

“Internet Explorer Six, resident of the interwebs for over 8 years, died the morning of March 1, 2010 in Mountain View, California, as a result of a workplace injury sustained at the headquarters of Google, Inc Internet Explorer Six, known to friends and family as “IE6,” is survived by son Internet Explorer Seven, and grand-daughter Internet Explorer Eight.”

IE6, please rest in peace.

Why Don’t American Teenagers Fancy Twitter?

I recently read an article on USA Today about a survey from Pew Internet & American Life Project that revealed that teens in the U.S. are not as interested in using Twitter as most people expected: only 8% of 800 American teens ages 12 to 17 who took the survey reported using Twitter, while social networks like Facebook have penetrated this demographic with a 73% high rate. These results seemed counterintuitive to me since common sense tells me that teens are usually the first adopters of new technology trends, especially in social media.

While reading about the perception of Twitter by teens in the report, who described it as “lame” and “feeding the beast”, I think this phenomena of teens preferring social networks could be explained by the entry cost, exit cost and voice theory discussed in Professor William’s class last week. The theory states that the higher the entry cost and exit cost is to participate in a community, either online or offline, and the more a participant feels their voice is being heard, the stickier the community is.

For the Twittersphere itself as a community, the entry cost to this community is definitely very low, it only takes a simple registration process that has been simplified to just a user name, email address and password, especially compared to Facebook’s more established profiles that rely on your pre-existing real-life social network to join online. Once you join Twitter, because everybody’s tweets seem to flood at you with little organization, it is so hard to manage any real conversations. Your own voice may be difficult to hear by followers, even if you have hundred followers, they might each be following another hundred people. The exit cost for Twitter is also very low. Twitter is simply providing a venue for public speaking, and people do not leave much information like personal photos and conversations with friends like they would on social networks like Facebook. Twitter’s genes of low entry cost, difficulty in being heard, and low exit cost mean Twitter as a platform can not achieve the same penetration rate as social networks have among teenagers, who prefer tighter, more controlled communication. Twitter does not seem to be as sticky in people’s lives as social networks are, not just for teenagers’ group. It is undeniable Twitter has its own unique advantages; But without addressing these shortcomings, it is not impossible that one day Twitter may be replaced by other newcomers in the real time communication field like Google Buzz or its old foes like Facebook and other social network sites which continue to strengthen this “Twitter”-like function on their sites.

Twitter: My New Playground

Since I opened my Twitter account last September, I have not been playing around on it until recently. Even though I have not linked my mobile phone to my Twitter account (in order to avoid constant twitter message bombardment), and as a result am missing out on one of Twitter’s most charming features, I have become more and more addicted to Twitter. I have also grown to appreciate Twitter’s usefulness in delivering fast news bites, connecting people in real -time, promoting business brands in creative ways and supporting arts projects and civic movements. Twitter is becoming more and more essential in many social dimensions.

I think one the biggest advantage of Twitter is that it is an open-source platform. With a clear interface and simple functions, it has encouraged many talented people to design thousands of programs to facilitate and enrich other people’s Twitter experience.

Here are some of the serendipities I discovered in this open-source Twitter treasure land:

Their self introduction: “Portwiture grabs photography from Flickr that matches the content of your most recent Twitter updates. The result is a serendipitous visual representation of your Twitter profile.”

Here is my Twitter status in pictures generated by Portwiture:

(Seems my mind stream is quite flowery, but I do not quite understand where these cute frogs came from…)

TweetDeck, Twitterfeed, Socialoomph are the main third-party Twitter tools I use to manage my Twitter account. And no matter what you want to do with your Twitter account, from a simple task like adding a “Follow me on Twitter” button on your blog, to complex tasks like finding out which specific tweet made people follow you or unfollow you, there is always a Twitter tool out there for you. That is the beauty of an open source platform. Just like Paul Graham wrote in his visionary work, The Other Road Ahead, many years ago about the advantages of up-to-date released web applications and server software, the disadvantage of these third party tools are also quite obvious: they are usually launched without enough trial and error, so they are less stable and usually contain many holes and bugs. While enjoying the convenience brought by Twitter tools, you may have to also pay your share by reporting the bugs you encountered to help improve the overall user experience, and expect some malfunctions along the road.

Another interesting tool I just found out is called Trendrr. On its site, it introduces itself , “Trendrr allows you to track the popularity and awareness of trends across a variety of inputs, ranging from social networks, to blog buzz and video views downloads, all in real time. You can even compare trends to one another, monitoring and evaluating this comparison across a variety of sources.” Mashable just did a very interesting report about how it captured the trend of Lady Gaga on many social media platforms and co-related the discussions about Gaga on these platforms with the growing trend of people who actually listen to Gaga’s songs. A clear relationship could be drawn from the comparison, which shows that the buzz from social media can actually bring real business potential.

Some questions regarding the usage of Twitter: in delivering a message campaign, how do we prevent messages sent out to followers from being buried quickly? For the average user who has a huge amount of messages to read or who can update very quickly, a tweet passing onto their display board is just like a shooting star flying across the sky…I know there is a scheduled time-release tweet function, but that does not seem to improve the duration of each tweet that much. I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comment section!

P.S. I just thought of the other day when I was at Barnes & Noble at the Grove. In the popular business books section, I saw two or three big books selling tips on how to succeed on Twitter. I am really curious how many people would actually dive into these big non-real-time print publications to find the keys to the fast-paced Twitter world?