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Celebrity Twittering

I have been meaning to write a very long, complex and cerebral post about the seemingly exponential growth of Twitter in the last few months, but as my list of related bookmarks grows, the time to read them runs screaming, so I thought I’d try and capture a few thoughts in the next week or two in shortform (not 140 characters short, of course).  Today’s topic: celebrity twittering (and, yes, just to get it out of your system, go and watch the Felicia Day Twittering Gaff … okay, moving on …).  Now, if I were to write this properly, I’d have to start looking at Stephen Fry and his more than 250,000 followers … in 140 characters, the witty observer is king, but you can find plenty to read about Fry elsewhere.  I could talk about disintermediation and who needs gossip magazines – or who really does need an agent filtering everything – when Ashton Kutcher is willing to tweet photos like this.  But I just can’t bring myself to read anything else about the Moore clan.  Instead, I want to talk about telepathic ex-policemen.  Or, more specifically, Greg Grunberg, who plays Matt Parkman on Heroes.

Grunny Grunberg is now a Twitter regular, with some 27,000 followers, many of whom only know him for his Heroes role.  He is, however, cleverly using Twitter to promote his other projects and establish his own celebrity presence as ‘Grunny’.  However, what really caught my attention was Grunberg’s tweet about the end wrap-up of the current season of Heroes and how that tweet, out of context, fired off a rumour that the show had been cancelled.  As Zap 2 It reported:

On Sunday morning, Grunberg tweeted the following: "Winding down shooting season 3 #Heroes. Tough to say goodbye to crew not knowing if any or all of us will return next year. Hope all." Over the next couple of days that one message set off a flood of "OMG!! Is Heroes cancelled!?!" musings on the web. …  The posts all mention that Grunberg "later" or "eventually" clarified his first remark with another tweet, that reads, "Don’t get me wrong, #Heroes IS coming back next next year, but some crew take other jobs, so it’s tough… we have the Best. Crew. Ever." But they make it sound like he was responding to all the supposed controversy he created with his remarks. Here’s the thing: Grunberg’s second tweet came all of three minutes after the first one. That doesn’t sound so much like backtracking or butt-covering so much as a guy reading what he just wrote, deciding the thought wasn’t complete and then completing it. I know things move fast on the Internet, but three minutes on a Sunday morning isn’t enough time to create a controversy and then try to respond to it. The incident doesn’t seem to have soured Grunberg on Twitter, although he did comment on a "long day of rain on set and being misquoted" on Monday.

Now, as I was thinking about Grunberg’s tweets and the largely unfiltered access his followers get (albeit in tiny little parcels), I read this:


Sure, he didn’t reveal ending of the season, but this throwaway comment about an episode of Heroes which had just finished screening in the US did tell a lot of people how it ended.  I’m guessing that some of his 27,000 followers didn’t watch the episode live … I wonder if anyone was annoyed by an actor giving away spoilers for a just-aired show?  Certainly for me, in Australia, this episode won’t be aired for weeks so I was a little annoyed.  (If the show was better scripted at the moment, I’d be even more annoyed.)  Perhaps Grunberg and actors who follow suit need to start a few more tweets with #spoilerwarning hashtag.  Either way, I suspect as more and more celebrities of various flavours tweet their fans directly, some new social norms will need to emerge about what is and isn’t revealed. And I wonder if this immediacy will drive more of Grunberg’s followers outside of the US to download Heroes rather than accept delays in being able to reply or (if they want to be unspoilt) read his twitter stream?

(Oh, and he’s not a celebrity, but as Boing Boing pointed out, the funniest person on Twitter is The Mime. Really.)

Annotated Links of Interest: September 25th 2008

Links of interest for September 24th 2008 through September 25th 2008:

  • ‘Heroes’ Causes BitTorrent Boom [TorrentFreak] – “An example of the BitTorrent traffic boost was reported yesterday, as Mininova got 10 million downloads in a single da. A record breaking figure, in part thanks to the debut of ‘Heroes’ and several other shows. Other BitTorrent sites report a similar increase in traffic. It’s Heroes that breaks all the records though. Our statistics show that, across all BitTorrent sites, the two episodes from Heroes’ season opening were downloaded well over a million times each – in just one day. The vast majority of the downloads come from outside the US (92%), where shows usually air weeks, months or even years later. The show was downloaded the most in the UK (15%), where the official season opening is scheduled for October 1st. Canada, France and Australia complete the top 5.” (Which is really interesting to compare with the US domestic TV viewership was down 25%.
  • Banned for keeps on Facebook for odd name [The Age] – “Facebook users with even slightly unusual names beware: your account can be suspended by the site’s draconian administrators without warning and your personal information held to ransom until you show them a government-issued ID. That reality was made all too clear for Sydneysider Elmo Keep this month when she tried to login to her account and was told she was banned for violating the site’s terms of use. She is the latest in a string of people to be banned from the site without any prior warning or recourse because Facebook believed they were not using their real names. … This and countless other questionable rules has led some to sound the alarm on the dangers of entrusting one’s online identity to Facebook and relying on it so heavily for social interaction.” (Run with the irony: this post has an “add to facebook” button at the end of the page!)
  • Spore copyright control relaxed [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Video game maker Electronic Arts has loosened copyright protection for the newest release of its game Spore. Released earlier in the month, the game received a flurry of complaints about a restriction that meant the game could only be registered to three computers. That restriction has now been raised to five computers, which the company says should account for all legitimate uses. The company has also addressed the complaint that each copy of the game only allows one player to use it. ” (A step in the right direction … a small step, I should add, but it would be Spore suicide for EA not to learn from the Amazon one-star anti-DRM protest!)
  • Doh! Cartoons pulled from Russian TV [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Pornographic, extremist and immoral – that’s how Russian prosecutors are describing popular US cartoons like The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park. The channel that carries them has been forced to suspend broadcasts of the offending programs pending legal action. On Wednesday (local time), a meeting of a government monitoring agency could take channel 2×2 off the air.” (I wonder how long it will take before South Park is advertised with the tagline “Pornographic, extremist and immoral – Russia”?)
  • Priceless! (Microsoft Ad Campaign Made on Mac [Flickr] – “The new microsoft ad campaign includes photos in their website www.microsoft.com/presspass/windows/imageGallery.aspx made in a mac! Hilarious! A good story around this issue by Daniel Eran Dilger at this link.” (More in The Age.)

Links for August 14th 2008

Interesting links for August 13th 2008 through August 14th 2008:

  • Fallout 3 ban lifted in Australia [Digital Life – The Age] – “A revised version of Fallout 3, one of the most highly anticipated games of the year and winner of the “Best in Show” award at E3 2008, has been cleared for release in Australia. Bethesda’s role playing game, which is set in a post-apocalyptic Washington DC, was refused classification last month because it featured “material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use” and “drug use… related to incentives and rewards”. Bethesda and Australian distributor Red Ant have declined to reveal what edits have been made to the game to obtain an MA15+ rating for the upcoming PC and Xbox 360 release.”
  • Facebook overtakes MySpace as social network king [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Industry figures available today show Facebook has dethroned MySpace to become the world’s most popular social networking website. Slightly more than 132 million people visited Facebook in June as compared to the approximately 117.5 million that went to MySpace that month, according to industry tracker comScore.”
  • The “IP” Court Supports Enforceability of CC Licenses [Creative Commons] – “The United States Court of Appeals held that “Open Source” or public license licensors are entitled to copyright infringement relief. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), the leading IP court in the United States, has upheld a free copyright license, while explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others.” (More in the NYTimes and at Lessig’s blog).
  • Heroes Embrace, Cast Comic Book Fans [io9] – “It’s taken them three seasons, but Heroes is finally embracing its heritage with the announcement that Seth Green and Breckin Meyer are to join the cast of NBC’s superhuman drama, playing two massive comic book nerds. Does this mean that we’re going to see more of 9th Wonders, the show’s deus ex comic book plot device? According to Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello, the two fanboys are going to “cross paths with (and perhaps serve as advisors to) one of the Heroes.””