Why Won’t Twitter Let #JewishRapNames Trend?

February 25th, 2010 |

Twitter is antisemitic. At least that’s what I thought this past weekend, when #jewishrapnames, a random hashtag I started using early Saturday morning, blew up all over the 140 character micro-messaging service hours later. I began a series of tweets around 3am Saturday morning. The first one was “50 Schpent #jewishrapnames.” What followed were a few more tweets from myself and followers. In all, perhaps 50 names were tweeted with the tag. I thought nothing of it and by 5am was fast asleep. But when I woke up in the afternoon on Saturday, I saw a few @ replies from people who normally never reply to me, and thought maybe I was onto something.

Around 8pm on Saturday night, I started sending #jewishrapnames tweets into the Twitterverse again. The same core group of followers from the night before began adding and retweeting them. Within an hour, a Twitter search for #jewishrapnames yielded many results. It seemed as if just sitting on the search page would show that there were roughly 10 tweets coming in per minute. Not enough for a trending topic, right? At this point I decided to keep going and kept tweeting, realizing the hashtag was catching on. Another hour passed and after @SamanthaRonson got in on the act, her one million+ followers all joined in. At that point, it seemed as if there were tweets coming in every second.

By midnight Saturday, the real time results from Trends Map was showing #jewishrapnames trending in New York City, San Francisco, and globally in a few different countries. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t able to take a screenshot of where it was trending at the time (silly me), so the real time results are a little sketchy as of now. But a Twitter search will still yield over 100 pages of results. That’s a lot of tweets. Is it enough to become a trending topic? Perhaps. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paul Cantor

Hashing Out at Kanye II: The Instigation

October 22nd, 2009 |

What does Kanye West have in common with author Dan Brown?

Although both love seeing their names printed in italics and are obsessed with ancient artifacts (in Kanye’s case, his reputation), both have a link to the theoretical subfield of noetic science. Dan Brown’s latest novel, “The Lost Symbol,” delves into this discipline which studies vast quantities of information that can, when dissected, support the existence of a collective consciousness. This theory is the basis for outings like We Feel Fine, Global Consciousness Project, and the Web Bot Project, which crawl the internet looking for recurring keywords, phrases, and data that can reportedly detect the underlying “mood” of the masses.

What does this have to do with Kanye? On Wednesday, Kanye fell victim to the noetic field yet again after being beset with the hottest hashtag, #RIPKanyeWest, on Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lauren Cannon

Death on Twitter – Paying Your Respects or Tweeting Your Own Horn?

July 6th, 2009 |


By now, every corner of the world is aware of the death of Michael Jackson. Love him or hate him, when a celebrity of this stature dies, it reminds us all that even the mighty are mortal. (Yet, for some inexplicable psychology, many still need their mortal confirmation in multiples of three).

In a frenzy to beat the mainstream networks to a scoop, hashtags began to appear for the MJ death watch on Twitter and when the inevitable was confirmed, the inquiries and retweets -  “Is Michael Jackson dead?” quickly turned to memorials – “RIP MJ!”.


Now, I don’t doubt that millions of people have been genuinely moved and inspired by Michael Jackson over the years. I never wore a sequined glove but I’ve been known to butcher a moon walk or two in my day. I was as shocked as anyone for whom the bell tolls, but did I feel the need to let a largely anonymous group of followers know that “I’m going to miss #MichaelJackson”? No.

Paying one’s respects to the dead is meant to be just that – a respectful, discreet acknowledgement of the loss to those close to the deceased. Yet, given the proliferation of MJ related hashtags (which by definition are meant to be searched) and insincere tweets about Michael Jackson’s influence, it is clear that many people simply saw this as a grand opportunity for Search Engine Optimized Self Promotion (“My #MJ_RIP tweet will be read by millions!”). Read the rest of this entry »

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