This week El Kaiser wrestles with an identity crisis and J.D. gives us the lowdown on how the micro-blogging service Twitter determines what is trending. In the news, taking down websites that offer access to pirated content by targeting their wallet; the NSA gets sued; Buzzfeed and Facebook have a slap fight; manufacturers ditch the Thunderbolt port; rumors heat up about a Microsoft smartwatch; Blackberry drastically drops the price on its flagship Z10 smartphone and Nasa discovers a new moon orbiting Neptune.
If you were anywhere near the bird-themed microblogging service last Thursday, you may have seen people tweeting about something called Sharknado. This campy mashup of marine-predator-meets-weather-disaster horror film was even announced as “trending on Twitter” Thursday evening.
This trend blip led a number of news organizations to take a closer look at the tweeting about the movie. The SocialGuide site, part of the Nielsen company, reported that Sharknado was the most discussed program on the air that night and generated more than 400,000 tweets, (even though the TV ratings urned out to be eh, not so much). But Sharknado made its mark on the trend lists and Twitter itself even blogged about the event.
So if you’re just a casual Twitter user, all of this trend business may seem a little confusing. How does a trend start? How do they count them? Is this just an advertising stunt?
Rest assured, trends are an official part of the Twitter service. In fact, when you’re logged into your account in the Web, you can see a little box of trends on the left side of the page and when you’re on the official mobile app, tap Discover then on Trends. There. You’ll see a list of keywords and hashtagged phrases. You’ll also see Promoted Trends, which are labeled as such and yes, those are advertising someone paid for. So, how did theses trends get there?
According to Twitter:
Trends are determined by an algorithm and are tailored for you based on who you follow and your location. This algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter that matter most to you. You can choose to see Trends that are not tailored for you by selecting a specific Trends location on Twitter.com.
So if you follow a lot of sports feeds, you’ll most likely see trending topics on that subject, like recent NBA trades if you have a team in your city. Hashtags are used in phrases, like #royalbaby to make the topics findable for people looking to search out all the tweets on the topic using that same hashtag. Trends also show world and local events.
If you want to see trends for other cities or parts of the world, click the Change link in the Twitter trends box to pick a different country or city and see what’s trending there. You can also type in “Worldwide” to get the global pulse.
When you click on a trend listed in the box, Twitter takes you to a page of search results for tweets using those keywords, phrase or hashtag. If you’re feeling like group activity, you can join in the trend by tweeting a new post of your own using the same keyboards or hashtag.
As you can imagine, people love to see that topics are trending nationally or globally, and plenty of third-party sites that round up this info and present it in some sort of graphically pleasing form are out there. These include:
- What The Trend, a site owned by the social-media company HootSuite. The What the Trend page displays a list of Now Trending and All Trends Today, plus a handy list of top trends by country. There’s also a What the Trend Top Ten page and HootSuite’s Twitter Trends of the Week.
- The Hashtags.org site has page called Trending on Twitter that looks at the hot hashtags of the moment.
- Trendsmap, a geographical real-time representation of what the popular topics around certain parts of the world. You can sign in to Trendsmap with your Twitter account as long as you’re doing it for personal, non-profit and research use only. Otherwise, you can sign up for Trendsmap Plus at $19 a month to get ad-free data you can filter by hashtag, keywords or users, faster updates and Vine videos.
If you’re a marketing or advertising person, you can also find paid services for analyzing Twitter traffic for your business.
And if you missed the original airing of Sharknado, Syfy is rerunning it this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. You can find clips from the film around the Web (spoilers, darling!) if you don’t want to sit through two hours of giant toothy wind-propelled fish chomping their way through L.A. But then again, maybe you do.
J.D. has a Helpfully Helpful Hint about how to avoid comment trolls and Pedro gives us his thoughts on the two big superhero films of the summer, “Man of Steel” and “Iron Man 3”. In the news, Facebook adds hashtags; Samsung plans to give away Jay-Z’s new album to Galaxy smartphone owners; Microsoft drops the price of the Surface RT tablet; and Yahoo continues its spending spree.
Facebook, which announced that it was adding hashtags to its service last week, is having a big announcement this week and word on the digital street has it that the company plans to unveil video as an added feature to Instagram. In other video news, Amazon announced this week that those recently purchased Nick Jr. shows like Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues are among the new material that has been added to its Kindle FreeTime Unlimited service. (The company also has the more limited Kindle FreeTime app, which is free.)
Samsung’s buying up a million copies of Jay-Z’s upcoming album Magna Carta Holy Grail to give out to Galaxy smartphone owners 72 hours before the album officially drops on July 4. The company also has a faster version of its Galaxy S4 phone on the way next month, one that promises double the speed of the current 4G LTE network. While the U.S. mobile networks may not be quite up to super-quick LTE, New Yorkers can at least juice up their batteries as AT&T has added 25 solar-powered recharging stations around the five boroughs.
Microsoft has a special deal for educational institutions buying hardware: a 32-gigabyte Surface RT tablet for $199. Its Outlook.com team up in Redmond also announced this week that it was ditching linked accounts in the name of security and switching over to aliases and the company released its Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers With iPhones app this week. The biggest Microsoft news o’ the week, however, is that nicely executed 180 on its Xbox One policies (you know, those “required Internet connection” and “restrictions on used games” policies) thanks to customer “feedback.” Your move, Sony.
As for Apple, the company’s e-book pricing trail continues in New York City with summations expected Thursday of this week, but an immediate ruling is not expected. Apple issued a statement on customer privacy in regards to the ongoing revelations about the National Security Agency and noted that its FaceTime and iMessage conversations were encrypted and said it couldn’t even crack those. The company found the time to work up a beta update for Apple TV testers that adds in iTunes Radio and a conference-room display feature.
Yahoo also joined the growing list of tech companies that have issued privacy statements to their customers. The post, from CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell, said Yahoo had between 12,000 and 13,000 requests from law enforcement agencies in from December 2012 to May 2013. And the shopping continues — according to the All Things D Web site, which reports that the company made an offer of $30 to 40 million dollars for Xobni and possibly $50 million for the Qwiki video app.
In other tech news this week, Adobe Systems has officially released its Creative Cloud suite to the public and the reviews are starting to come. Wal-Mart and Staples plan to start selling Google’s Chromebook laptop. BlackBerry has issued a security warning about a critical bug in the BlackBerry Protect app for its Z10 smartphone. Ford is responding to consumer complaints that its MyFord Touch electronic touchscreen dashboard systems are too confusing by putting back the knobs, and the Oxford English Dictionary has added some new terms in its latest update.
And finally, Man of Steel broke the box office record for the biggest opening numbers in June with $113.1 million dollars last weekend. This haul puts Supes second in line behind Iron Man 3’s $174.1 million dollar opening weekend last month.
The comic-book movies of summer are doing quite well and we’re not even to the mid-way point of the season yet. Next month, The Wolverine, RIPD, and RED 2 all arrive, as does the enormous San Diego Comic-Con International, with all of its industry news and film previews. So there are plenty of things to look forward to besides the new books hitting the shelves of your local comics shop each Wednesday.