After reading Owen’s post about Twitter Influence there was a brief discussion in the Habari IRC channel about who people follow and why. One part of the conversation was about celebrities. One person in the convo didn’t follow any celebrities. Owen follows just one. I, however, follow 50+. That got me thinking about why I follow these people and how I’m actually using Twitter.

First off, I want to point out that I am not a TMZ, Perez Hilton, US Weekly, People celebrity stalker. In fact, if you look at the celebrities I follow you would find a bunch of names that rarely, if ever, appear in that type of celebrity drivel. The celebrities I follow are people from TV show, music, and movies that I really enjoy. Their updates are usually really good and provide me with entertainment. Denis Leary always has great one-liners. Rob Lowe embraces his fans and frequently talks about his role on The West Wing. Nathan Fillion and Colin Ferguson are just regular guys that tweet just like anyone else. Roger Ebert provides thoughtful political and film essays. Louis CK posts clips from his very funny show and tour dates for his stand up.

The thing is, I get quality tweets from most of these people. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t follow them. Sure there might be a few on there that don’t update, but for the most part they all do and I enjoy most of their tweets. It’s gotten to a point where I enjoy their tweets more than most of the other non St. Louis people I follow. Twitter has evolved from a place where I can see what other people are currently doing to a place where I can get info on my favorite TV shows, movies, musicians, and actors. I still enjoy seeing what my fellow St. Louisans are doing, but that’s about it. I used to enjoy reading what other people were up to or things they found interesting, but that has definitely changed, and I can probably pinpoint two reasons why that has changed.

The first reason is I started following too many people. I follow a lot of people but the people I follow, I follow for a reason. This has disadvantages though. The people I tend to follow update more frequently. Follow a lot of heavy users and statuses begin to fly by one right after another. Even though I find what they have to say interesting, I can only read so many tweets before they are lost forever in a never-ending stream of unreadable text. After a while of not being able to catch up, these updates become noise and provide nothing meaningful. The second thing is what I’m going to refer to as static. These are tweets that interfere with an otherwise good signal and will often contribute to the first issue. These tweets can be anything from a Four Square check in or a re-tweet to get into a contest for an Apple product (which I swear no one ever wins). Then you have paid tweets. That one bugs me the most. With celebrities and other high profile users, it’s easier to get high quality content without a lot of noise. You know if there is an update it’s not going to be a Four Square check in, a RT for a contest, or what song they are currently listening to. It’s going to be something that I find meaningful.

So, have you changed the way you use Twitter over the years? Do you still find it as valuable as before? Do you use it to make personal connections or more broad connections for your interests?

In case you’re wondering why I hate religion, here is yet another reason.

The Wylands’ daughter, Alayna, had a small discoloration over her left eye when she was born. The area started swelling and the fast-growing mass of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma, eventually caused her eye to shut, pushed the eyeball down and outward, and affected the eye socket.

[Deputy district attorney Colleen] Gilmartin asked Rebecca Wyland why she didn’t take Alayna to a doctor.

“Because I believe in God and put my faith in him,” she replied. If his daughter did not improve, “that’s his will,” Timothy Wyland said.

Completely disgusting.

I have added some changed to the blog which you may or may not have noticed. I started adding linked posts to the blog. These are similar to what John Gruber does over at Daring Fireball. Basically, these are links to external articles that I comment briefly on. The reason I’m creating these is that I noticed I post a lot of links on twitter but rarely have enough characters to comment on them how I’d like. I figure my blog is the perfect place to do this but didn’t want just a series of extremely short normal blog posts. That’s when I decided to implement asides.

I found a plugin that will allow you to implement and style your asides without editing WordPress’ loop. It’s a great plugin because the only file I need to edit is my stylesheet so that I can style my asides as I see fit. That still didn’t solve my problem with having the post link to the actual article on my blog or my feeds. Because I didn’t want to hack my theme files, I settled on two plugins that would bring me that functionality. The first is the Linked List plugin. This is technically all I should need but, as I said, I wanted to implement these things without editing any theme files (besides the stylesheet of course). So far, I have styled asides and if you click on a linked post in my feed it will bypass my site and take you directly to the article. I needed one more plugin to link the actual post on my site to the external article. This is where the Page Links To plugin came in handy. I designate the URL the permalink should redirect to and it takes care of the rest.

So when you see posts like the one in the screenshot below, that’s a linked post. You can click on the external link icon at the end and it will take you to the article I’m referencing. If you are reading an external article from a feed reader, just click on the feed title and it will take you there.

Of course, right now I have no way of showing, in a feed, that it is a linked post, but I would think it would be pretty obvious if I’m talking about an article but there is no link within the text. I’ll see if I can find a way to make that more clear from within the feed. If you have any suggestions on how to that, I’m open to them.

Really great article about Louis CK and his hilarious new show Louie and how he’s not afraid to tackle issues that people who look like him have traditionally shied away from.

Recently Josh Malina posted a little joke on Twitter that has resulted in a variety of hilarious responses. For those who don’t understand the joke, when you click on the link in his tweet it takes you to your own profile. So, no matter who clicks on the link, as long as you’re logged in, you’re taken to your own profile. This joke has been used in a variety of ways in the past, but this one has drawn some funny responses. People who are this dumb shouldn’t be allowed on the internet. They are the ones that will unknowingly send you viruses and beg you with help bolding something in Word Windows. I’ll give you a few of my favorite responses.

@JoshMalina I may not make a lot of comments on FB but that is no reason to attack me and then spread it all over the web and Twitter.less than a minute ago via web

@JoshMalina I have reported you to Twitter in reference to your post about me being the worst person on Facebook.less than a minute ago via web

I am corresponding with a woman on FB who now “gets the joke,” but still wants me to remove the link to her profile. Wow…less than a minute ago via web

@whit_pip look at andy levy feed joshua malina just said i’m the worst person on facebookless than a minute ago via web

By the way, that last guy really took it seriously and decided to write a blog post about it. What a moron. No wonder he’s a Palin supporter.

If you want to follow the continuing parade of dumb people do a Google search for @joshmalina.