The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Media -- Dont Quote Me  |  News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  This Just In

Defaming Twitter

Illogic and Cronyism Dept.  
By ADAM REILLY  |  August 19, 2009


Hate Twitter? Then you're probably loving a new, buzz-generating study — released last week by the Texas market-research firm Pear Analytics — which found that the vast majority of Twitter messages, a/k/a tweets, are pretty much worthless. Over a two-week period, the study's authors randomly gathered 2000 tweets and then placed them into six categories of varying worth. The big winner: "pointless babble" (e.g., tweets with info like "I am eating a sandwich now"), which garnered slightly more than 40 percent of the total. "Conversational" tweets, or IM-type communications between users, came in a close second, with 37.5 percent. "News," meanwhile, was the loser of the bunch, comprising less than four percent of the sample.

But how telling are these numbers, really? Let's start with the study's methodology — which, regrettably, bears no resemblance to the way people use Twitter in real life. Twitter's great strength is that it allows users to determine, with minimal effort, both who and what they want to follow. If you do this — and pretty much every Twitterer does — you'll never encounter the terrifying info-tsunami that represents Pear Analytics' conceptual starting point.

What's more, Twitter's build-it-yourself quality makes the study's value-laden categories nearly useless. If you're following a given topic (updates about a particular neighborhood, say) or a given individual (a friend, a politician, a favorite athlete), you're going to value the ensuing tweets in a way that others don't. In other words, one Twitterer's "pointless babble" is another's "news" — a nuance the study somehow managed to miss.

Just one more thing: in a blog post introducing the study's results, Pear founder and CEO Ryan Kelly closed with an eager plug: "Since Twitter is still loaded with lots of babbling that not many of us have time for, you should check out the Twitter filter, Philtro." Unmentioned by nearly everyone who covered the study — with the laudable exception of the UK's Register and — is the fact that Philtro's founder and CEO, Paul Singh, seems to be the same Paul Singh who serves as Pear Analytics' business-intelligence expert. (Both went to George Mason, both were founder and COO of the mobile-messaging company UpSolv, and both like to be called "Mr. Metrics.") Shaky reasoning and a blatant conflict of interest? Pointless babble, indeed.

Related: The Year of the Nerd, Novel idea: Twitter fiction, A fusillade of tweets ring in the new year in RI, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Business, Marketing, Market Research,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article
HTML Prohibited
Add Comment

Today's Event Picks
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BRAVE NEW GLOBE?  |  January 29, 2010
    Sizing up the Boston Globe 's recent past is easy: simply put, in the past 12 months, the paper has seen enough gut-wrenching drama to change the name of Morrissey Boulevard to Melrose Place. But forecasting the paper's future is another matter.
  •   COVERING A TRAGEDY  |  January 20, 2010
    The earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January 12 posed a major challenge for the Boston Haitian Reporter , the lone English-language outlet focused on Boston's sizable Haitian community. The quake and its aftermath were of vital interest to the Reporter 's core audience, but local, national, and international media were already tackling the story with resources that the Reporter simply didn't have.
  •   THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY  |  January 08, 2010
    Predicting a Super Bowl winner doesn't make you a genius: after all, given a pool of 32 teams, one of them is bound to capture the trophy. But predicting the future for an industry that's been buffeted by new technologies and economic vicissitudes, and sometimes seems to have all the substance and staying power of sea foam? That's an accomplishment.
  •   FOURTH-ESTATE FOLLIES, 2009 EDITION  |  December 28, 2009
    Between the rise of the Web, the ADD-addling of America, the fragmentation of any national political consensus, and the devastated economy, working in the press can feel a bit like manning the Titanic — and this year, the entire industry seemed to teeter on the edge of oblivion.
  •   BATTLE OF THE BULGER  |  December 16, 2009
    Earlier this fall, with almost no fanfare, Beverly-based Commonwealth Editions published a new biography of Boston's archetypal politician — James Michael Curley: A Short Biography with Personal Reminiscences — written by former Massachusetts Senate president William Bulger.

 See all articles by: ADAM REILLY

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2010 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group