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The Twitter Index

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Tracking the soaring stocks and junk bonds of social media, helping you to invest carefully and speculate wisely. (By Rhodri Marsden)

May 30th

Falling: "Twitter walls"

Don’t ever use a Twitter wall. Don’t even discuss the possibility of using a Twitter wall. Forget Twitter walls ever existed. In particular, don’t ever organise an event where you allow people to electronically lob whatever they like onto the wall. They’ll inevitably put up stuff you don’t want to see on the wall, like “the organiser of this event is a cock”. Not only that, people don’t even need to be inside the building in order to sabotage a Twitter wall.

You could be sat in a deckchair in Torremolinos and, on hearing that Heinz has a Twitter wall at its new product launch, project the words “HEINZ SUCK ARSES” in large letters behind the Chief Operating Officer of Heinz. But all this is obvious. We’ve learned this over a period of years, through a process of trial and error. People try and do it, and it’s always an error. Any organisation immersed in the world of digital wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.

Anyway, this morning The Guardian launched a coffee shop. According to tip-top Guardian tech bod @GuardianJoanna, it’s a place for their tech journos to work from, a place to meet readers, do user experience testing and so on. There’s also coffee. There’s also a Twitter wall, where tweets with the hashtag #guardiancoffee appear. Now, apparently this is moderated:



But people aren’t aware of that. They've got the Twitter wall bug. So excited are they by the prospect of their tweets appearing on a computer screen in front of a dozen or so people in Shoreditch that they’re going mental – the usual mixture of a few good jokes, masses of weak jokes, a healthy sprinkling of outright abuse, interpolated with people asking what #guardiancoffee is.



And so on. Anyway, #guardiancoffee has served its purpose as a hashtag, which is presumably to make people aware that Guardian Coffee exists. The Twitter wall, waste of digital space that it is, is just a sideshow. And the moral of the story, if there is one, is this: if you’re launching a product, or a service, or a luxury cruise liner, or whatever, start a rumour that there’s an unmoderated Twitter wall somewhere or other, and that some people are looking at it. You’ll be trending by lunchtime.

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May 29th

Flatlining: Jeremy Kyle

One of the first tweets I ever "favourited" (there you go, another clumsy 21st century verb to add to a already colossal list) was this, by @mydogminton. It was about Jeremy Kyle:



You'll find Jeremy Kyle trending in the UK on most days. He appears so frequently in the top ten that you'd have thought Twitter would have automatically disallowed it by now – you know, like they have with words like "the" and "and", or phrases like "it's raining" or "Justin Bieber". But no, Kyle is a semi-permanent fixture. This isn't necessarily an endorsement of Kyle himself, who most people seem to view as some kind of inhuman goading robot – no, this is more an indication that teenagers who should probably be revising for exams are currently slumped on the sofa and gawping. Gawping at the human zoo on ITV2. Which actually wouldn't be a bad slogan for the programme. They can have that for free. It's theirs.

The Jeremy Kyle Show appears on ITV at 5am, and then again on ITV+1 an hour later. At 7am you have time to have a quick shower and a shit, then at 7.25 you can watch it again on ITV2, and an hour later on ITV2+1. At this point the excitement mounts, because a new episode starts immediately at 9.25 on ITV – then forget breakfast, because you can watch it again on ITV+1 straight away. At 11.25 maybe take on some liquids, have a rest for a couple of hours, before gorging yourself on… The Jeremy Kyle Show! It's on from 2pm until 4pm on ITV2, plus a bonus hour on ITV2+1 until 5pm. That's a solid 9 hours of Kyle on a standard British weekday. 9 hours during which people are fairly likely to tweet "I'm watching Jeremy Kyle".



Much has been written about the dubious content of the Kyle show; we know it's exploitative and vile, and can only be watched through your fingers while going "Oh god no, don't say that" – but exploitative and vile and infuriating gets tongues wagging, and tweets tweeting. The "trending" status of Jeremy Kyle says nothing, really, other than "Jeremy Kyle is on television". And if the sun is up, Jeremy Kyle will probably be on television.



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May 28th

Rising: @SleepyCommuters

Having managed to get about four hours sleep last night, and having spent a portion of this morning sitting on a bus with my face pressed against a misted up window while having a deeply unsatisfactory nap, it feels like the right time to salute the majesty of @SleepyCommuters. This valuable service provides us with regular reminders that people sometimes have no choice but to have a little rest in public, despite making themselves vulnerable to bastards with cameras:

And vulnerable to people who like nicking newly unboxed gadgets:

By following @SleepyCommuters, you can marvel at the positions that some people are able to sleep in:

Wonder whether the person might actually be dead:

Initiate discussions over whether drool and dribble are the same thing:

And gasp in astonishment at people who appear to have got undressed before they embark on their little snooze:

Of course, all these pictures raise very real concerns about the privacy of individuals, the role of cameraphones in modern life and the stealthy rise of a Big Brother society where we're all being watched by each other, oh hang on, look at this bloke, hahah, brilliant.



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May 23rd

Rising: @EDFEnergy

It's rare that anyone on Twitter takes an interest in a home and business energy provider that claims to supply gas and electricity at competitive prices. But EDF Energy managed to meander onto our radar last night in the wake of the horrific attack on the soldier in Woolwich, by making repeated and emphatic denials that it had anything to do with the EDL, to people who knew that they had nothing to do with the EDL.

The first accusation came from @dannywatty:

Then @kerihw:

And lastly @joshweller:

Anyway, I hope that's cleared up. Watch out for similar denials from the British Nursing Association next time the BNP mounts a by-election bid.



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May 22nd

Flatlining: Flouncers

Twitter can get a bit much. I mean, all those people posting a steady stream of weak puns – it's enough to make you want to blast your own face off with a blunderbuss. After first having sourced a blunderbuss.

Which, let me tell you, isn't easy in the year 2013. There are none on eBay. Only this 1:12 Scale Unpainted Metal Blunderbuss Dolls House Miniature Accessory, which you'd be lucky to extract a bogey with, never mind blast your own face off.

Many people decide to steal away quietly from Twitter, dissolving into the night with nary a word. That's the dignified way. Others prefer to say that they're about to go, then check their replies to see how many people wish they'd stay. It's the classic social media flounce; the equivalent of loudly announcing that you're going to leave a party and then standing next to the door with your coat over your arm and craning your neck to see if anyone's noticed.

And then, when you realise no-one could give a monkey's, putting your coat back on the hook and sauntering back into the party as if nothing had happened.

Then there are the people who mentally flounce, but fail to tell anyone about their flounce until they change their mind and decide not to flounce after all:

And then there are those who make unnecessary commitments never to flounce again:

But let's leave the final word to @themanwhofell, who posted this tweet just over a year ago and in doing so painted himself so tightly into a social media corner that he's unable to return to Twitter, lest he spoil the perfection of his final tweet.

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