Friday Oct 02, 2009

Firmly Entrenched in the Long Tail

tweet1001 As I slept last night, my Twitter follower count edged above 1,000. In light of the fact that President Obama has 2,278,978  followers and even John McCain has 1,446,896, all this proves is that I am firmly entrenched way out on the long tail of the Twitter economy.

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Words Fly on Wings of Lightning

A provocative line in a song I have known since childhood declares, “Time flies on wings of lightning. We cannot call it back … ”

Based on an embarrassing social networking experience I had yesterday, I think we could safely paraphrase: “Words fly on wings of lightning. We cannot call them back!”

It all started when I noticed a comment from a prolific tweeter from London:

if you are retweeting something from google in order to get a wave invite then you are a <deleted>. and so are they. that is all.

Since I had just done that abominable thing, I quickly looked up <deleted> in the dictionary and posted this tweet:

Just learned a new word:  <deleted> = contemptible person; jerk.  Based on Twitter commentary, I must be one. :)

When that tweet reached Facebook, it triggered a small avalanche of comments.  It was great to see a friend speak up and say:

you are definitely not a <deleted>.

It was also nice to hear from a young man who used to live next door, but whom I haven’t seen in many years: brother calls me a <deleted> all the time. I'm glad to get a definition on that.....sort of.

But I started to wonder what I had done when an acquaintance suggested:

Tip: Don't have this conversation with anybody from the UK.... :-) … It has a very specific meaning across the Atlantic, one that is best left unexplained on a public forum :-)

What had I done?  I quickly dug a bit deeper into the meaning of <deleted>, only to find he was exactly right.  I shouldn’t be using such language in a global forum.

Well, words had flown on wings of lightning.  I even tried to call them back via Twitter:

Actually, when I looked into it, it is definitely British slang that is not used in polite company.  Oops!

And later:

Lesson learned today: Be very, very wary of repeating slang used by a tweeter from another country.  Could be very embarrassing.

It was heartening to hear from some friends who obviously had a chuckle, but questioned my motives at first:

Whew! I frankly was a bit surprised to see the Mark Dixon I know using that term. We all learn something new every day!

Yeah Mark, I was gonna jump in and say something, but then I realized i have no business correcting anyone's language.

LOL, I was wondering when you'd figure that word out. ;-)

Well, I have been painfully reminded again that we must be very careful about what we sling out into cyberspace.  Words do indeed fly on wings of lightning!

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Tuesday Jun 02, 2009

Never Teach your Mom to Twitter

The comic strips are full of commentary on the Twitter phenomenon these days.  I thought this Zits strip was most insightful.

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Tuesday May 05, 2009

Silly Twitter

I had to chuckle at the perceptive commentary in today's Pickles comic:

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Tuesday Apr 28, 2009

What Are You Eating Right Now?

As I return from a substantial respite from active blogging, may I ask a question about this insightful little cartoon from Geek & Poke?   Is it more incredible that millions of people tweet about what they eat for breakfast, or that millions of other people are actually interested?

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Tuesday Apr 07, 2009

Phoenix Suns TW@CKLE

The coolest commercial use of Twitter I have seen to date, Suns Twackle, was placed into production today by our hometown Phoenix Suns.  This application, included on the Sun's website, shows all the Twitter messages posted about the Phoenix Suns and allows Twitter users to log in using their Twitter credentials and post Tweets directly from the Twackle page.  Quite an innovative use of Twitter as an integral part of the Suns' PR strategy!

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Wednesday Mar 25, 2009

We Follow #Identity

This evening I visited, a "user-powered Twitter directory."  Any one with a Twitter address can join the directory by specifying up to three tags of choice -- Identity attributes as it were.  My three tags: #identity, #LDS and #Arizona.

It was nice to see that way out on the long tail of Twitterdom, with my follower count only about 0.1% of @THE_REAL_SHAQ or @BarackObama, I can still crack the top twenty in each of my chosen categories.

I'd guess that proves that there's a lot of folks who haven't signed up yet.

But I enjoyed seeing fellow Identity afficionados like @metadaddy, @iglazer, @LudoMP, @ncrown and @hmathew in the top 25 of #Identity.

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Tuesday Mar 24, 2009

Warning: Tweet with Care

Just a little reminder from Non Sequitur to watch where you are going when you are Twittering.  The life you save may be your own.

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Friday Mar 20, 2009

More Twitter Clouds and Fascinating Games

In response to my post yesterday about clouds of followers at Twittersheep, Mark Kolb (@outwitme) sent me a link to his site, OuTWITMe, that has, among other fun and games, a cool three-dimensional cloud of major words found in the most recent tweets of a user you specify or Twitterverse at large.  Poking around the swirling cloud and following the train of consciousness it engenders is a stimulating experience.  The two-dimensional snapshot posted on this blog doesn't do justice to what Mark has provided.

Elsewhere on the site are some fascinating Twitter-based word games that appear to have the potential to be absolutely addicting to a word geek like me:
"Outwit Me is your home for a variety of unique Twitter games that have been specially crafted with artificial intelligence. You are here to be challenged, entertained, stimulated. We are here to engage your mind and of course to outwit you."
With names like Tweet Quiz, Tweet Words and TWord Chains, these games all played through Twitter and appear to not be trivial. It appears that some really intellectual activity is happening north of the border, where the governing philosophy is "to present intelligent challenges for tweeters with some time on their hands."

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Thursday Mar 19, 2009

Flocking around Twitter

This evening I stumbled across Twittersheep, that creates an interactive cloud of keywords from the Twitter profiles of people who follow me on Twitter. It makes for some interesting exploration of the company I keep - my "flock" in Twittersheep-speak.

It made me think of the Old Testament verse from Isaiah 53:6; "All we like sheep have gone astray ..."

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Wednesday Mar 18, 2009

Auto Updates to Twitter?

If you follow me on Twitter (@mgd), a few times a day you will receive a tweet from me of the form "Dixon Delicious: Why IBM Wants Sun - BusinessWeek".  I do this to share web sites I visit that may have relevance to others.  Such links, which I first post to Delicious, are automatically posted to Twitter by an RSS-to-Twitter service named HootSuite.

A few days ago, a person who follows me on Twitter suggested that "sending your delicious links to twitter in a batch is sort of poor form, if you don't mind me saying so."  After a polite exchange of direct messages, he also offered, "worked out what bothers me about dixon delicious. it comes through in a single burst.... usually three in a row."

To help illustrate how these messages are generated, I created the little diagram below to show how my updates automatically wind up on Twitter.

  1. I use the Delicious Booksmarks Firefox plugin to save links to websites I may want to return to or that I think may be interest to friends and colleagues. 
  2. I use the ScribeFire Firefox to create posts to the Discovering Identity blog.  
  3. ScribeFire uploads my posts to
  4. ... and posts a link on Delicious using tags I have specified.
  5. Each day at 1:00 am, Delicious automatically creates a post to my blog containing all the links I have uploaded to Delicous in the previous day. This is a composite of all the links I have directly posted to Delicious, plus any links posted to Delicious by ScribeFire.
  6. HootSuite monitors the RSS feeds from my Delicious account
  7. ... and the Discovering Identity Blog
  8. ... and periodically posts new entries to Twitter

It appears that the HootSuite RSS-to-Twitter mechanism is quite "bursty."  It doesn't necessarily post the Delicious links immmediately when I post them, but may post a batch of links at once.

So, what do you think?  Is this too automated? Is it in poor taste to provide this method to put content onto Twitter?

I'd appreciate your feedback.


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Tuesday Mar 03, 2009

TweetDeck - Breathing New Life into Twitter for Me

I have had a love/hate relationship with Twitter since I first signed up in May 2007.  I found it at times to be intriguing but worthless, captivating but time consuming, fascinating but maddening.  I jumped around to different Twitter clients, including Twitbin, Twhirl and Flock.  I would completely go offline for awhile and then tweet like mad at other times.

One of my biggest complaints was the inability to follow a few friends or relevant subjects among the masses of tweets being exchanged in Twitterspace.  As the number of fellow Twitters I followed rose, the more difficult it became to keep track of anybody or anything.

Well, I am recently back on the Twitter bandwagon, thanks in a large part to TweetDeck, a Twitter client that allows me to specify a few groups of people to follow and a few searches that I might be interested in at a particular time. For me, it brings order out of chaos and rachets the Twitter experience upward a few notches.

Plus, Iain Dodsworth, the TweetDeck author, uses a really cool feedback forum to gather suggestions from the field.

Thanks Iain!

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Sunday Mar 01, 2009

Monster Game for @THE_REAL_SHAQ

With Steve Nash on the bench nursing a sprained ankle and Amare Stoudemire out for the season with an eye injury, Shaquille O'Neal has been playing inspired basketball - the old man against youngsters.  It was great to see him lead the Suns to victory over the Lakers today.

Do you want to be entertained between games by Shaq in a hip, social media sort of way?  Follow @THE_REAL_SHAQ (yes, it really is Shaq) on Twitter.  He's quite a character off the court as well.

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Thursday Feb 26, 2009

Cloud Computing ... in 140 Characters or Less

There has been a light-hearted little project on Twitter this morning challenging people to provide a "non-geek definition of Cloud Computing in 140 characters less."  Launched by Chris Horak, SAP Platform Marketing Head in Germany, responses are compiled on Chris' blog.

My first attempt was "Cloud computing provides application, database, platform, storage, and computing services in a virtualized utility to enable agile business."

Chris thought that might be a bit too geeky, so I suggested, "Using computing services on demand, on a pay-as-you-go basis, like I buy electricity from my power utility."

So, what do you think?  Send your 140 words (or less) to Chris (@choirshark).  Enjoy!

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Wednesday Feb 18, 2009

Social Media Addiction

As I nursed my social media addiction this evening, today's Non Sequitur comic strip seemed particularly applicable.

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Discovering Identity was founded on in May 2005 as a means of documenting my exploration of the field of Identity and Access Management. In February, 2010, I switched to hosting the blog at In March 2012, I began posting Oracle-related information in both places.

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The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Oracle Corporation, or any other person or organization.


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