Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stuff'n'nonsense #7

No blog yesterday. Did you miss me?
  • OK, movies. Watched two documentaries, Food, Inc and Urban Explorers. Food, Inc didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but seeing it on screen really turned me off eating a lot of what's in the supermarkets. Urban Explorers was interesting, but could have done with being half an hour shorter. Still, well worth watching just for the pretty images of abandoned places. I just wanted to know who the hell simply walks away from a fully furnished castle and leaves it to rot?
  • Here's one I may or may not see when it reaches Netflix. Atlas Shrugged could be fascinating, or could have me throwing things at the screen. This review intrigues me: A Movie This Demented Should Be Against The Law. I have to admit, I've tried to read it and failed. And Ayn Rand's philosophy pisses me off. But I'm prepared to give the movie a shot.
  • Game footage is getting more and more like movies. Check out this latest Unreal demo. And remember, this is real-time in-game footage. This is not a cut-scene. This is not pre-rendered. This is gameplay.
    And while your jaw hits the floor, I'll just tell you that this is taking not one, not two, but three top of the range custom nVidia graphics cards to run it. So don't expect it to work on your laptop. Don't even expect it to work on your current generation super-duper video production PC. Figure on getting a whole new machine when this comes out in two years.

  • I spent much of yesterday browsing Wonderland, a hugely entertaining blog that talks about games of all sorts. What initially caught my eye was this glorious Lego steampunk TIE Fighter. Neat, huh?

  • Also from Wonderland, an excellent post on social mechanisms in games, based on a superb talk by Raph Koster, who I should follow more closely than I do. He "explained how societies work, how humans work, and how we interact as beings with each other, described as social mechanics and how they could be applied (and are sometimes applied) in social games. [Here's] his list of the 40 essential social mechanics that have ever existed, in order that game designers need never have to reinvent them again." Bloody brilliant stuff.
  • ExtinctIt's a damn shame I missed the Muppet Art Show last night. Woulda liked to see that, and it looked like people had a lot of fun.
  • Damn shame I missed the hillbilly burlesque last night too. Looking forward to the next Kitschy Kittens show.

I'm still wondering whether to continue with this long blog format. It doesn't generate anything like the responses I used to get with FB posts, and it doesn't feel like many people are actually reading these. I'm seriously considering whether to revert to just sharing things on FB or take a vow of social media silence and focus on writing proper stuff.

Last week I had to do some research into Twitter, and came up with some depressing facts.
  • The average person on Twitter gets 2700 messages a day. A year ago, it was 400, and I thought that was a lot. Math: if it takes 5 seconds to read a tweet, it would take 3 hrs 45 minutes a day to read your Twitter feed.
  • Most people log in once a day, and only read their direct messages, @messages, and whatever's been posted in the last 10-15 minutes. Math: most people only read 1% of their feed. In other words, if you post something on Twitter, there's a 99% chance that a given one of your followers won't see it.
  • Click-through rates on Twitter links have dropped from 38% a year ago to 14% now. So given that hardly anyone is going to read your tweet, the number of people who will actually click on a link is near enough non-existent (o.14%). Math: if you have 500 followers, then maybe ONE of them will actually click through.
  • Retweet rates have dropped from 25% in 2009 to 17% in 2010 and 11% now. Math: if you have 500 followers, maybe ONE will RT your post. And if he has 500 followers, maybe one will click through and/or RT it.
In other words, it's Babel out there. Everyone's talking, nobody's listening. It's not a conversation any more. It's no longer a viral way of spreading information as transmission rates are so poor. It's just noise, pretty much drowning out all the signal, and the only response people have is to turn up the noise. In December, I wondered what Twitter was for. Now, I'm none the wiser.

Well, that's not quite true. I am. In December, I had a hunch that Twitter was becoming useless. Now, I have the stats to prove my hunch.


@gt_p said...

Matt, nice tie-fighter, my son would love it.
You get to far more events than I can, need to get out more.
As for long blogs, I find I like a mixture of long, short and one liners.

Aspect of the Wolverine said...

I know you and I have been talking a lot lately about the pitfalls of social sites like facebook and twitter, so I'll skip those parts.

I find longer, more in depth postings, even just quotes, never mind links with explanations as to why something is getting linked, far more favorable to the six seconds it takes to read something that, by in large, strikes me as menial.

I like knowing the small, day to day, goings on of the short list of people I keep close to me, sure. By comparison though, I find these longer posts far more exciting. They convey a much more profound sense of personal perspective and emotion about the things that are going on, and serve as a great snapshot into a moment in someones scrapbook of life.

Just to let you know, length doesn't detour us all - and that's a true story.

Simon said...

I'm sure those twitter stats are literally correct, but I wonder whether they actually mean anything. Are they skewed by people who get gigantic numbers of tweets like celebrities and spambots? It certainly doesn't reflect the numbers I get or of people I know. I see more traffic on my Facebook feed than twitter. To be honest if all my friends only used Facebook I'd probably drop twitter but some of them prefer twitter and only use that so I use both.

Matt Kelland said...

Simon, I think that's the point. Twitter's flooded with celebs, brands and bots, and the info from friends easily gets lost in the noise.

While Twitter can certainly be useful, particularly if you tune your feed right and have suitable tools, it seems to be a much less efficient communication mechanism than it was a year or two ago.

I suspect part of the problem is the perception that the more followers you have (and the more people you follow) the more influential, connected, or important you are, and the more useful Twitter will be. That's simply untrue - they are meaningless connections unless you're actually able to process the information that you're getting. In practice, as I'm sure you've found, it can often be the case that less information is more use. That requires a rethink to our attitude towards who we choose to follow, why, and what we choose to tweet.

Simon said...

Interestingly what I don't recall seeing in any twitter clients is a way to manage very busy streams like this. Maybe that will be the next phase - if you are going to follow that many people then you need good filtering and searching tools.

Matt Kelland said...

I just removed about 100 people from my twitter feed. Perhaps that will make it more useful.

Patrick said...

All of those stats are true, I'm sure - and yet Twitter is not dead.
I follow far too many people, tend to check it at most twice a day, and always find something interesting that would not have come to my attention so swiftly by any other route. When I don't have time I can skip over posts or filter people out without feeling I'm missing anything - clever client software can help, but I just use a few Twitter lists to do this. On the occasion when I try to use it to follow some event in real time I find it overwhelming;
and the fact that search only goes back a few days now is a shame - but watch out for what future historians etc will do with the full archive.

Kate Fosk and Michael R. Joyce said...

It's quicker and easier to like or comment on a facebook post.
Here there's possible login to an identity and word the in ramp is steeper.
I'm not sure if I have a preference either way, I read these, I used to read your FB posts.
I haven't visited twitter as often lately (just busy). I've always been careful of my follows there and tend to dump the nonsense swampers pretty quickly.
When I do visit, my read rate is much higher than the stats you quote.
I rarely follow someone with a lot of followers as there is so little chance of communication and maximum chances of uninteresting posts.
I trial celebs every now and then, most don't last.
I've kept Tony Hawks* because he's a nice guy, only posts now and then and was kind enough to write back to me when I sent him an email last year.

* english comic not skateboarding guy