A Twitter-related Sydney Morning Herald debut

Today I returned to the print media with an opinion piece, Trends on Twitter brief but telling, just like in the real world, in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It’s an overview of Twitter’s “Trending Topics”, including the observation that marketers who try to game the trends are probably wasting their time. Research by Hewlett-Packard’s social computing lab [PDF] shows that there’s probably no point in focusing on the “influencers”.

Topics will trend or not based on whether people found it interesting to retweet at that moment. Just like Yahoo! Research’s Duncan Watts said a few years back.

Somehow I managed to refer to the fisting incident without using the word “fisting” itself.

I wouldn’t have thought about writing this piece myself, being too immersed in Twitter to realise that it needed explanations. Blame Joel Gibson, the SMH Opinion Editor. He commissioned it and did a decent job of improving my Sunday-written words.

I think it’s quite sweet that Fairfax decided to explain my name.

Whaddyareckon of the Ruddblog?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's new blog

Kevin Rudd launched his prime ministerial blog yesterday. I’m not sure it’s going to work — as I already told the Fairfax newspapers.

In addition to the common prohibitions on defamatory and abusive content, the rules for Mr Rudd’s blog say that comments will be accepted for only “five business days” from the time the post is published, be moderated by his staff strictly during business hours, cannot include links to other websites, and are limited to 300 words.

“Not allowing links to other websites is just dumb,” one blogger, Stilgherrian, told the Herald. “Links are the currency of the web. They allow you to reference work that’s already out there. If you can’t do that, and you’re limited to 300 words, then the discussion won’t ever get past repeating slogans.”

It was a sentiment shared by “An Onymous Lefty” blogger, Jeremy Sear, who posted a response to the Prime Minister’s blog titled “Kevin Rudd is hip to the kids… of 2004”.

“The strict moderation will remove the livelier aspects of discussion,” Mr Sear said.

I also reckon the first post, about climate change, sounds like a prepared political speech, with a question tacked on the end to make it look bloggy.

How do you think we can make Australians more aware that we need to act on climate change now?

I thought we’d mostly moved well past “creating awareness” and the biggest criticism of the government’s climate change policy was the lack of actual action so far.

But what do you think?

[Note: The original Fairfax piece doesn’t have links: I’ve added them in myself. Fairfax is still too rude or daft or whatever to link out to the things they mention. It’s nice that they included my quote, given that.]

Vermin to be slaughtered

Screenshot of smh.com.au story

As I slowly recover from the mysterious viral fever, an interesting juxtaposition of advertising and news story (pictured) caught my eye today.

Staff are leaving Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s office in “droves” — that’s one of those newspaper-only words, like “wed” as a verb instead of “married”, isn’t it! But are they really “vermin to be slaughtered”?

Over the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly concerned about the unhealthiness of modern Australian work practices. There’s so much focus on short-term “productivity” and false urgency, on quantity over quality, and so little respect for people as actual humans. Now the world financial crisis looms — yes, chickens, it really is as bad as the Great Depression. The danger is that employers will turn up the pressure to be “productive”, meaning “working harder”, instead of working smarter.

How business managers respond to the challenge will reveal much of their character as human beings.

Domain: misleading advertising?

Scan of Domain cover, claiming 1.2 million readers

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s over-blown real estate section (right) claims 1.2 million readers each week. That’s misleading, surely?

According to Fairfax’s own circulation figures, the Saturday SMH gets 1,176,000 readers from a circulation of 364,000.

OK, rounded to two significant figures, I’m cool with that. But I reckon putting that 1.2 million figure on the cover of Domain is misleading — in the Trade Practices Act sense of the word — ‘cos it implies that the real estate ads get that many readers. I really, really doubt that.

The first thing many (if not most) readers do is fillet the paper, throwing out the classifieds-filled supplements. And if you look in the bins at any suburban railway station on a weekday, you’ll see them chock full’o unopened, unread Domain, Drive, MyCareer and all the other crap they don’t need.

So, Fairfax, misleading advertising? What’s the real readership of the real estate ads?