Hard News by Russell Brown


The Aggregated Eavesdrop

In the short history of Twitter meta-sites, I think TrendsMap is the best. It uses the Twitter API and Google Maps to regionalise Twitter trends and show who's talking about what, where. In Auckland, for example, we're all about Fashion Week. Which is better than yesterday, when we were all about boobs for most of the day.

The prominence of Fashion Week is instructive, because what you're getting out of this is much more about who uses Twitter and how, rather than what the mass of ordinary folks are thinking. I haven't been able to find any really good information about the New Zealand Twitter population, but the presentation by Jonathan Sinton at Digital Now this week said a TNS survey had found that of the 90% of New Zealand internet users who made some use of social networking services, about 10% used Twitter. That survey also bore out the perception that the kids don't tweet as much as their parents. From the media release:

Of all social networkers in New Zealand, it’s the grey surfers – the 45 – 60 year olds who are more likely to use Twitter than the younger age groups (14 per cent are members of Twitter compared to only 8 per cent of 18 – 30 year old social networkers.)

That's more than a quarter of a million people and I think the more relevant number – of people who actively use Twitter rather than having merely once registered a profile – is much lower. I think I saw Ben Young quote 28,000 active users recently: that's about the same number of individuals who visit this site in a month, according to Google Analytics, or the population of Timaru.

So, not a lot in an internet-using population of more than three million. But the fashionistas aren't just tweeting into their fancy phones, they're also dutifully using the #anzfw hashtag in their tweets, which makes them easy for sites like TrendsMap to aggregate.

Other things I like about TrendsMap: the global view includes plenty of non-English-language words. It's a useful reminder that the internet isn't all about us – and, of course, English-language words do stand out in the cloud when they surface. Yesterday, I can report, a fair chunk of of South East Asia was in the grip of a hoax rumour that Oprah Winfrey had been found dead in her bed. Today, the much-followed film director Joko Anwar is all the talk.

And since I started writing this blog post, #anzfw has been displaced at the top of Auckland topics, as tweets stream in about the death of Sir Howard Morrison. You can see it mapped here (click the "my region" button at the top left).

People are also furiously tweeting at Rove McManus (@rove1974) who's here briefly for a visit (and will appear on the episode of 7 Days being recorded tonight).

None of these are particularly hard news topics, but it's not a very hard news week. And wishing that people would tweet each other about the Emissions Trading Scheme will not make it so.

TrendsMap is the work of the Melbourne company Stateless Systems, makers of the registration bypasser BugMeNot and the retail coupon code knowledge base RetailMeNot, which last year pushed $US350 million in sales to online retailers. Clever guys.


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