Category Archives: internet

Twitter: Fad or fabulous? It’s in your hands


It was bound to happen sooner or later, a post about Twitter. (Follow me here)

In recent months, Twitter has been heralded and criticised all across the cybersphere, and little more so than in Blogs.

Opinions are divided, as they often are, over it’s value and whether it is anything more than the latest ‘thing’.

As Facebook was the phenomenon of 2008 (and to a point even the year before that), Twitter has conjured a media firestorm, with everyone from Jonathan Ross to Oprah Winfrey Twittering away.

Recently cyber-history was made as Aston Kutcher became the first Twitterer to get over a million followers (shortly followed by CNN).

But what exactly does it all mean?

For those of you who haven’t been bitten by the twitterbug, Twitter sees you posting answers to the question “What are you doing?” and connecting yourself to other users to see what they are up to as well.

With the post limit at 140 characters, these so called ‘micro-blogs’ are limited, but often contain urls to interesting sites or news stories, or, in the case of QI Master Stephen Fry, simply the day-to-day interesting goings on in their lives.

You can also reply to people’s posts, or ‘tweets’ as they are known’ and send direct messages to them.

Peter Schwartz of the internet newspaper The Huffington Post today voiced his views on Twitter. You can read them here, but if you’re too lazy for that the gist of it is that he’s not a fan. He feels it’s been over-hyped, no doubt by blog posts like this one, and is only a passing fancy which people will soon grow tired off, and far from the “transpersonal communications organism” it’s founders are claiming it to be.

Despite Facebook and Google both reported to be trying to acquire Twitter, the site, according to Schwartz, is yet to make money:

“While no one is suggesting Twitter can support the $15 billion valuation that Facebook received for its Microsoft investment several years ago, the mania surrounding Twitter surely indicates the Web 2.0 frenzy has probably peaked.” Peter Schwartz

Like many things though, Twitter is what you make of it. On the most basic level it’s just a website, but if you involve yourself in it you can connect yourself to people you may never have had the privilage to meet. While it’s easy to be bogged down in the spam of people’s everyday lives, there are some interesting things to be found on there and through there, it’s just up to you to find them.

Is it a fad? Perhaps for some people, but for others it’s a serious exchanging of information, and right now it’s not going anywhere but up.

Now here’s a few of my personal favourites:

1) Xbox 360 Game Left 4 Dead re-enacted
2) 10 Gaming Characters on Twitter
3) Terrible Twilight Fan Art
4) Anything tweeted by qikipedia
5) Classic reply to one of my latest tweets about now being unemployed from VividEphany:

@James_Parry Sorry to hear that you were laid off. Keep your chin up. This might be an opportunity in disguise. If you need help, I’m here” – Just knowing that makes me feel safer…thanks

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Music to your ears: A blagger’s guide to Last.fm

Last.fm?! I hear you shriek in dismay, what’s that?! Should I ‘have’ it? What aren’t you telling me?!?!?

These are just a few of the panicked questions I hope to answer.

I’m not a Last.fm legend by any means, in fact currently my apparent number of listened to tracks stands at a measly four thousand, but I think it’s an excellent Web 2.0 resource, and anyone who calls themselves a music lover should check it out.

Last.fm, first and foremost, is a website (http://www.last.fm) which keeps track of what music YOU listen to, as well as suggesting new music you might enjoy. All you have to do is sign up and let your media player know what your Last.fm details are (personally I’d recommend Songbird, but more on that later) and away you go!

The site itself began when two of its founders, Felix Miller and Martin Stiksel, who were running an online record label to promote new and unknown bands, joined up with Richard Jones, who was tracking his and his friends’ listening habits using a program called Audioscrobbler, to bring their projects together in 2005 to create Last.fm as we know it today.

The site itself says it’s:

“about making music culture more democratic: everyone listening to music how they want to, when they want to. Without a middle man making your decisions for you.”

Bizarrely, it actually pulls this off, creating a playlist for you of recommended music even if you chose one band. But hang on, how can we know that the site doesn’t just push bands which pay it more money? The truth is we can’t ever know for sure, but it’s easy to believe that it really isn’t all about the money with this site, simply from the wide range of new music available.

There are some drawbacks however, you need to have an audio player which talks nicely to the site in order for your music to show (luckily most major ones are already compatible) and if you are away from your computer and just fancy some music you can go on there, but you can’t listen through all the tunes from a certain band, instead the site offers similar bands after the first track, which can become irritating.

Providing you have the right media player though, actually using the site is a piece of cake, since everything is automated, so you can go on and find out just how worryingly addicted to Less Than Jake you are.

Songbird, the free open source player from the Firefox crew, Mozilla, has just released its 1.0.0 version, so it’s early days, but it is one of the most customizable music players in existence, offering countless add-ons for everything from Album art to quizzes and, naturally, full Last.fm scrobbling (that’s shoving the songs you’re listening to on the site by the by).

So, there you have it. Last.fm is a tool, but a fun one, and when coupled with one of the most versatile media players ever conceived there really has never been a better time to be a music fan.

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Now playing: Manic Street Preachers – Send Away The Tigers