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OVER the past one month alone, the number of people who follow The Nut Graph on Twitter has more than doubled to about 800.

That’s not a lot compared with several other news sites in Malaysia, or with Malaysian Twitterers like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and even 11-year-old Gloson Teh.

Spike of followers for The Nut Graph‘s twitter (screenshot from Twitter Grader)

Right. But the point is, the number of people following The Nut Graph grew way faster in the past one month than it ever did since the website first tweeted in September 2008. Some of the tweets that helped to attract followers were like these below, reporting the situation that was unfolding on the ground, and sometimes in casual chat lingo.

    Menara Bakti resident: “I was sleeping when I heard a big sound. I didn’t know if it was a plane, or what. I saw big cloud of dust.”

    SIVAKUMAR HAS BEEN PHYSICALLY REMOVED! Pulled out of his chair and taken out the door.

    (The Nut Graph tweet on the chaos in the Perak legislative assembly sitting on 7 May 2009)

Some followers retweeted them, and their followers retweeted them further, and soon it was viral. Thanks to them, more people now see the headlines, news breaks and updates that The Nut Graph sends out.

And the whole purpose of this in-house commercial message is that The Nut Graph‘s experience illustrates just how easily Twitter is used to spread the word or provide blow-by-blow accounts for a variety of reasons, be they political or commercial.

Twitter's bird mascot holding up a sign that says 'The Nut Graph'Political tweets

Some people may have noticed #pman appearing among Twitter’s top trending topics in April 2009. It was alongside other popular topics like Apple Store and Eminem, Evgeny Morozov observed in the article Moldova’s Twitter revolution in Foreign Policy magazine.

“No, ‘pman’ is not short for ‘pacman’,” said Morozov, a fellow at the Open Society Institute in New York. “[I]t stands for ‘Piata Marii Adunari Nationale’, which is [the] Romanian name for the biggest square in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital.” Morozov is working on a book about the internet’s impact on global politics.

Morozov observed that this was not the first time Twitter was being used to mobilise young people to rally behind a cause or event. He said one famous precedent was the anarchist protest in Greece.

“Technology is playing an important role in facilitating these protests,” he said, referring to the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. “The related posts on Twitter are being posted at a record-breaking rate — I’ve been watching the Twitter stream for the last 20 minutes — and I see almost 200 new Twitter messages marked with ‘pman’.”

In Malaysia, news sites have begun to tweet news breaks before the actual story is even uploaded on their websites. News organisations are not the only ones doing this. Individuals who witnessed the collapse of the former Jaya Shopping Centre tweeted about it and word soon got around.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang tweeted furiously about the arrest of people involved in Pakatan Rakyat’s hunger strike in Ipoh on 26 May 2009, despite being in Bangkok for an event at the Thai Parliament that day. Other than reporting about those who were arrested and their subsequent release, he even tweeted about them being baited: “The 14 arrested enticed with food and told that they can order for better food like KFC but they are not biting. ‘We are fasting man!'”

Tetris and Whale Wars

twitter's bird mascot
Bird illustration on Twitter’s website, referenced by many
third-party Twitter applications in their logos (from
Thanks to the trending topics that appear on the right column of the Twitter page and updates from Tweeting trends, I learned that Tetris and Whale Wars were among the most popular topics buzzing on Twitter over the past few days.

Tetris was one of the top topics trending on Twitter on 6 June 2009, which marked the 25th year since the block puzzle game created by Russian Alexey Pajitnov was launched. So what are people tweeting about this highly addictive game?

neoxdonut: Happy Birthday Tetris, The addictive puzzle game, Tetris, turns 25 today and Google is honoring this by changing up the Google Logo.

CalyFory: Tetris is 25 today … I broke a phone playing tetris … good, good game.

tynosaur: I wonder if anyone will notice that I’m wearing Tetris-themed shoes in celebration of the anniversary of Tetris tomorrow?

carolien_: @supernovia RT Life is like a game of Tetris. Make the most of whatever falls

antimatterrocks: Tetris: 25th Anniversary Documentary [VIDEO] …

Google commemorated the anniversary with a Tetris logo. For some reason, the logo was not available on Google Malaysia. Here’s a screenshot of the logo on Google UK.

"Google" made of colourful tetris blocks
Screenshot of Google’s logo for Tetris’s 25th anniversary

Tweets on Whale Wars are more mixed. The Animal Planet reality show about eco-crusaders Sea Shepherd and their efforts to fight the Japanese whalers began its second season on 5 June 2009. While many are quick to hero-worship Captain Paul Watson and his crew, others have questioned the hostile methods used by Sea Shepherds to thwart the efforts of the equally aggressive whalers.

The Sea Shepherd’s tools and tactics include water cannon and its weapon of choice, butyric acid. The stink bomb disrupts whatever the workers are doing on the whale and taints the whale meat so that it can’t be sold. The Japanese whalers are said to be using flashbang grenades which can blind or disorient the enemies.

As this article, Whale Wars — Eco-Terrorism as Reality TV, on The Huffington Post says, “So what is the problem with ‘Whale Wars'”? The problem is that it is cheap exploitation in praise of what is nothing less than eco-terrorism. It is the glorification of vigilantism on the high seas. And oh, by the way, the Sea Shepherds do almost nothing to protect the whales where they really do need protection.”

Screenshot of Whale Wars website

And what are Twitterers saying about Whale Wars?

catjungle: WHALE WARS!!

courstler360: Whale Wars … more Whale Wars … stop those killers, Sea Shepherd! Let the whales live. Why don’t more kids my age care about this slaughter?!

productivecough: Like watching the antics of ill-prepared, sanctimonious hippies? Then you will like Whale Wars.

funboxcomedy: Watching Whale Wars. I feel bad for the whales, mostly because of how incompetent the whale warriors are.

whatclos: Way too many episodes of “whale wars” and enough beer in the fridge prevented my going out tonight.

These tweets did not come directly from Tetris or Animal Planet. They were from fans and critics -— yes, not all tweets are glowing reviews. And that’s the way it should be — frank. They demonstrated just how fast and widespread word can get around on Twitter. If there’s an interesting product or service or news, chances are, it will get plenty of notice. No promises that it will be positive publicity though. Favicon

Cindy Tham hates being spammed by those who use Twitterfeed.

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3 Responses to “Twitterholic”

  1. megs says:

    Dulu saya jarang singgah laman web The Nut Graph. Sekarang melalui Twitter, The Nut Graph pantas menjadi sumber berita alternatif tanahair kegemaran saya. Yey!

  2. Jason says:

    TEDxKL – an independently organised TED talks in KL – was trending on the day it was held, several weeks ago.

  3. Lainie says:

    Jason: Yeah, most of the tweets I saw on #TEDxKL was about how underwhelming it was.

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