Daily Archives: February 13, 2010

No Valentines Day for the Cadbury Oompa Loompas

I’ve been following the rather hostile takeover of Cadbury by Kraft for months now, just waiting for the hammer to fall. And this week it did.

400 Cadbury’s workers sacked after Kraft confirms factory will close just ONE WEEK after U.S. firm promised to keep it open.

I guess that says it all. For a history of the takeover (bid), here are direct links to some of the more relevant articles over the past few months:

Want to Get Your Message Out There? Avoid the Social Butterflies!

The MIT Technology Review just published a great post on the physics arXiv blog that covered some recent research from Maksim Kitsak et. al. that found that the best connected individuals are NOT the most influential spreaders in social networks.

In a social network, most of the nodes (people) are not linked to each other, but most can still be reached by a small number of steps, according to the small worlds network theory. (In fact, recent research indicates that the average separation is now less than 5, and not 6.) In these networks, some nodes are much better connected than others. Traditional thinking is that these so-called hubs play a correspondingly greater role in the way information and viruses spread through a society. But traditional thinking has just been proved wrong!

Kitsak et. al have found that in contrast to common belief, the most influential spreaders in a social network do not correspond to the best connected people or to the most central people. This might seem counterintuitive, but, on reflection, it does make perfect sense. For example, many of the “best connected” people typically exist on the edge of the network, and, as a result, have minimal impact on the spreading process through the core of the network. In contrast, “a less connected person who is strategically placed in the core of the network will have a significant effect that leads to dissemination through a large fraction of the population“. Or, in other words, it’s not how many hits a site gets, it’s who hits the site. There are influencers and followers. If most of the readers hitting a site are followers, the message will not get spread beyond those readers. But if most of the readers are hitting a site are influencers, the message will spread far and wide with only a fraction of the hits!

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Has Twitter Already Turned Too Many into Twits?

Last Saturday, I pointed out a recent article on how students [are] failing because of Twitter, texting, covered in this CNet video which asks does Twitter make you stoopid?. The article pointed out that, at the world renowned University of Waterloo, thirty percent of students who are admitted are not able to pass at a minimum level, a failure rate that has increased five percentage points in the past few years. The cause, according to experts in the field, is “cellphone texting and social networking”, which are collectively degrading writing skills. And as we all know, Twitter combines both into one happy little medium that will zap your IQ much faster than your backyard bug-zapper solves the mosquito problem.

Shortly after I penned that piece, I found this piece on CNet that noted the blogging decline among teens, young adults. Now, while it’s true that most blogs will eventually be abandoned (with the abandonment rates in line with the 3-3-3 rule), relatively speaking, the average number of blogs that survive over time, and, thus, the average number of relative bloggers, should still be increasing slowly as the online population increases. However, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that while 28% of teens (12-17) and young adults (18-29) were bloggers in 2006, by 2009, the number of teens and young adults blogging dropped in half (to 14%).

The Pew Research Center attributed the decline in blogging to changes in social network use, arguing that people use social networking sites less as they get older. While this may be true, it’s certainly not true for teens and young adults, which are using social networking more by the day, and it misses the fundamental cause entirely. Simply put, they’re not blogging because Twitter has made them stoopid and given them ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

If you can’t spell well, compose an expose, or think beyond 140 characters, you can’t write a blog post worth a damn. And all this leads me to the very important question posed in the title — Has Twitter Already Turned Too Many Of Us into Twits?

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