As a Twitter neophyte I’m still learning about the strange new universe of Tweets, Followers, Following – and the weird ‘Trending Topics’ list on the right hand side of my page.
Some things remain utterly mysterious.
Stephen Fry: super-human Twittering powers
I looked up Stephen Fry, a celebrated Twitterer famous (in part) for his many followers. As of today there are 666,355 of them. That is a lot!
But what really amazed me was how many Twitterers Stephen Fry is following. According to today’s statistics, he follows 54,877 other Twits!
How can Fry possibly find the time? Does he have a small army of assistant Twitterers to predigest Tweets that show up on his page – and report on the Tweets he really needs to know about?
Or is there a technological fix that enables Master Twitterers to read hundreds of thousands of Tweets per day?
Locating a Stash: Today's Trending Topic for the Twittering masses
This morning I noticed Find Marijuana has been a Trending Topic for several hours. After it reached No 1 my curiosity finally got the better of me.
I clicked the link to arrive at a page of seemingly random Twitterers, all tweeting away merrily about what a giggle it is that Find Marijuana has become a Trending Topic.
How in Twitter’s name did that happen? Is it a genuine expression of random global whim? Has a network of mischievous Twitterers conspired to bump the topic into the top ten? Could it be a gigantic surveillance operation by the combined drugs squads of participating nations?
It brings to mind an incident back in 1984, when I was a new arrival in the delightful city of Sydney, capital of New South Wales.
I noticed a sticker – the same sticker – in phone boxes all around the city. It had a simple message: Free Marijuana – call Neville! There was a phone number.
Today's Menu for Twits
I ignored it for days, but eventually decided to call from a public phone, just in case it was a police sting.
“Premier’s Office, how can I help you?” said a nice lady’s voice at the other end. When I asked about Free Marijuana, she politely explained the sticker was a prank. Her response to my follow-up questions was clearly well-practiced. “Yes, the NSW Premier has received a lot of similar calls“.
Savvy locals knew the NSW Premier at the time was Neville Wran and saw through the joke straight away. But I was a stranger in a strange land.