Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, August 19, 2021

After seeing some dramatic intra-weekend dips in ticket sales this summer, Hollywood studios are pondering if an in-seat “Twitter Effect” from audiences is swaying potential ticket-buyers.

Sounds like they’re already convinced, and planning their counter-strike:

Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures, says studios are worrying about a time when “people will be twittering during the opening credits - and leaving when they don’t like them.” But he also warns, “the next step [for the Twitter Effect] is for studio marketing to manipulate it.”

And that manipulation is pretty simple: Flood Twitter with shill accounts that will gush about how great new releases are, early and often (and late, for the trailing crowds). How effective will that be? It assumes a specific interfacing with Twitter: Viewing the site strictly through its search function and hashtags aggregation. That’s a dubious strategy — most users stick to their tweetstreams, made up of who they’re following. If they’re not following those shill accounts, the impact is going to be limited.

Just as, I suspect, the entire “Twitter Effect” is limited in the first place. This theory was first advanced by Time Magazine, which declared Fridays to be the “new weekend” in reaction to the quick flame-out of presumed hit Brüno. But again, hard evidence of tweet-delivered word of mouth was scarce. If anything, any “Twitter Effect” seems to have more to do with journalists and other who use Twitter as a tracking tool, discerning concentrated patterns of trending topics where none may really exist — other than where Twitter’s sidebar linking of their Trending Topics actually does influence other users (one more reason, in my opinion, to auto-hide that listing).

This will be a case where perceptions will shape reality. If the movie industry is convinced that Twitter and other social media are affecting the bottom line, Hollywood will strategize against those those services, for better or for worse.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/19/2009 05:46:08 PM
Category: Business, Movies, Social Media Online
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The above hand-crafted neighborhood flier is making the online rounds as a source of amusement. And why not, with such matter-of-fact outrage:


(Drawn from memory. May not be to scale.)
[hand-drawing of bicycle] } 20 inches

My bike was stolen from my front lawn last week. It is a one-speed bike with a skull flag and a lightning bolt on it. The lightning bolt and flag may have been removed. This bike was brand new from the store.


I don’t even want this bike back. I just made these flyers to tell you that I hate you, bike thief. I hope you ride my bike without a helmet and get hit by a monster truck. I hope my bike takes you straight to hell.

As it happens, it seems that the origin of this declaration of two-wheeled hate is a Threadless t-shirt design. And it turns out that the original rage was thoroughly misplaced:

my design MISSING started out as an actual flyer that I put up around my dorm when my bike was “stolen” earlier this year… Later, I found out it had been towed because I chained it to a fence with a “no bikes” sign on it. Whoops!

So much for consigning some bicycling bogeyman to the flames. If anyone’s pedaling straight to Hell, it’s Mr. Missing designer.

This all reminds me of the old “The Kids in the Hall” “Open Letters” bit by Bruce McCulloch. Bruce had only his bike’s front wheel stolen, but that didn’t stop him from calling out his thief as “you human loser”. Given the choice between “I hope my bike takes you straight to hell” and “You human loser!”, I prefer the shorter and sweeter put-down.

(Video of that “Open Letter to the Guy Who Stole Bruce’s Bike Wheel” moment here; I won’t embed it because it seems like whenever I do that with a “Kids in the Hall” clip, it gets yanked from YouTube within a week.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/19/2009 03:09:38 PM
Category: Comedy, Fashion, Internet, TV
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Once again, I seem to be eerily in sync with the local media — or, at least, the op-ed section. In the shower this morning, I pondered the allegations of Republican orchestration in all those raucous town hall meetings over the healthcare debate, and how unfair those charges were. Lo and behold, I opened the paper to find freelance writer/blogger Ryan Sager explaining that the Astroturf label is being misused, and doesn’t apply here:

Here’s a rule: Organizing isn’t cheating. Doing everything in your power to get your people to show up is basic politics. If they believe what they’re saying, no matter who helped organize them, they’re citizens and activists. The language at the town halls may get ugly and rough. But it’s not Astroturf.

It’s like a grassroots movement loses legitimacy if it acquires even a whiff of size and/or organization. When it’s so easy to organize on a wide scale via the Web and other means, that perception has to change. Things like form-letter emails and scripts certainly hurt more than help, because they’re ham-handed shortcuts to achieving organization — indeed, the artificial turf substitute for home-grown expression. If anything, even if tactics are Astroturfed, it doesn’t necessarily discredit the genuine support that lies under the hood.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/19/2009 01:45:36 PM
Category: Politics, Society
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