Monday, July 6, 2009

Trending - twitter style

If you're a twitter user, you already know what that is. If you're not a twitter user, "trending" is the list of topics located in your twitter homepage sidebar that tell you what are the most talked about subjects at any given time. I'm not sure how often it's updated, but I suppose it's quite often throughout the day, since it fluctuates constantly. For example, right now the trending topics are:

#musicmonday, Michael Jackson, #Hottest100, MJ's, Dirty Diana, Secret Life, #IranElection, AT&T, Harry Potter and Shannon Brown. (The # symbol in front of a topic means it's a hashtag topic, used to mark and track a special subject. Anyone can create one and even I have one "#reflexnstees". I can search for that and see who's used it on twitter - because that means they get a double entry into the current store giveaway.)

So, back to trending. Nearly any time something significant happens in the world, you can be sure it will become a trending topic on twitter, at least for a while. When the precious little girl from Woodstock was kidnapped (and then her accused murderers arrested) "Tori Stafford" was a trending topic and it was good to see that there. That meant countless people had taken some time out of their lives to at least pay some attention to the case, and at least post a quick tweet about her. Her plight was on our minds and we kept her case "trending" for a while. The more coverage her case received, the more coverage her case received. In a case of a child abduction this is a very, very good thing. This is one very good use of such technology.

However (and you knew this was coming), its impossible not to notice the absolute petty, useless fluff that makes it onto the "trending" list. Now, what I find petty and useless someone else might find interesting and exciting, and vice versa. For example, during the January through May season of the show 24 with Keifer Sutherland, every Monday night some reference to the show was a trending topic. Either Jack Bauer, Tony Almeida, 24, or some other name or reference to the show. For those who watch the show, it's sort of fun to take a peek at those topics and see what others are saying about that particular episode. For those that do not watch the show, it would seem those trending topics are a complete waste of time and pointless. Which is pretty much how I feel about some of the trending topics that show up, like the hot 100 or the variation of Miley Cyrus topics.

Overall, it's a rather interesting look into what people are talking about, whats holding their attention and why. Sometimes its really good, and other times I shake my head and think "there is no way THIS many people care about this subject", but they certainly do. It's hard to say what will be trending tomorrow, but I can pretty much bet it will have very little to do with what's truly important in life, and much more to do with what makes us laugh, or ticks us off, or those things we just find truly bizarre and have to comment about.

(In the time it took me to write this, Harry Potter fell off the trending topics list and was replaced by Bachelorette. Apparently the latter is more exciting than the former, tonight.)

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