Apprentice + Twitter = data flood

Series 5 of The Apprentice started on BBC One last night. Wondering what the web would be saying about it, I enjoyed the two-screen experience by watching the programme on TV while also looking down at a laptop on my lap with tabs open on Anna Pickard’s live blog on the Guardian, the Apprentice message board, and, of course, Twitter.

Initially, I thought I’d be able to regularly search to keep an eye on people using the word apprentice, or the #apprentice tag. (Of course, searching for the word ‘apprentice’ gives both, so what’s with the fuss around hashtags? Surely the ultimate tag is one you use anyway, without having ugly markup around it?)

With new updates appearing about as fast as I could read them, and sometimes faster, I turned to Twitterfall. Now it gets fun. Here’s a capture from early in the episode.

By the end, it was updating at three times that speed. In fact, Twitscoop tells me that during the boardroom scene that forms the climax of the show, there were 300 updates per minute using the word ‘apprentice’.

Apprentice trend (via twitscoop)

5 messages per second is more than I can manage in real time, but I did spot some lovely gems in there.

top trending twitter topics at ten pm

By the end of the show, 4 of the top ‘trending’ (e.g. currently most popular) words and phrases, according to Twitter search, were apprentice, Sir Alan, theapprentice and Anita.

The Apprentice was always going to be popular on Twitter, but I’m impressed at the scale here. Of course, most of the time you don’t care what everyone is saying about the Apprentice, just what your friends are saying. And that’s what Twitter’s good at. The ability to tap in to this real-time flood of info is pretty powerful though, even if it’s getting hard for one person to be able to even monitor it in real time.

10 Comments

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  1. Hey Roo!

    Not sure if you remember me from IBM, but this is Jay Clark from developerWorks! Nice to be following your tweets/blog! A question about the Apprentice in the UK…You said it just started last night? Here in the States, it’s been on for about 5 weeks now. I’m wondering if it’s the same or different…If it’s different, the one here in the US has been pretty good this series. I’m interested in seeing how far Dennis Rodman is going to go.

    Comment by Jay the Blogger — March 26, 2009 #

  2. I found it interesting that a lot of people grumbled and said they’d be unfollowing people after The Apprentice flood. For me, seeing the real time reaction to something like The Apprentice is what Twitter’s all about. And being able to see that within the microcosm of the people you follow, and the overall macrocosm of Twitter is really powerful stuff.

    The beauty of Twitter is you can just not look at it for a while if there’s something you’re not interested in. It’s about what’s happening right now, rather than what’s happened in the past.

    Comment by Dan — March 26, 2009 #

  3. I so want to follow a show like The Apprentice through other channels alongside the TV broadcast, but I timeshift almost everything I watch so I can cut out credits, filler, ads etc. It was all I could do last night not to check twitter at any point while watching the programme in case I came across spoilers. Recording live sport of any kind can be similarly perilous.

    What we timeshifters need is a way of timeshifting all those other streams as well, so even if we can’t actively participate, we could still passively follow along.

    Or I could just get into the habit of watching some shows at their scheduled times….

    Comment by Neil — March 26, 2009 #

  4. I’ve been wondering the same thing about hashtags. Tags like #SXSW are doubly pointless since SXSW would never be confused with a real word.

    Consider a #lost tag though. It could serve to separate messages like ‘Did anyone spot the statue in #Lost just then’ from ‘I have lost my car keys’. This only works because people are able to agree on a tag for a given topic.

    I agree though, in most cases hashtags are a bit redundant.

    Also, I’m impressed with Twitterfall!

    Comment by Foomandoonian — March 26, 2009 #

  5. Jay: yep, they’re different. You have Donald Trump, we have Alan Sugar.

    Comment by Roo — March 26, 2009 #

  6. Neil: That’s a really interesting idea. You’d need some sort of playback system that could time-sync between video and twitter/whatever streams. Sounds fantastic.

    Comment by kyb — March 26, 2009 #

  7. Interesting. The Twitter search API lets you specify dates (here’s ‘apprentice’ stuff just for today’s date, for example) but not times. Meanwhile, Twitter’s REST API for the public timeline let’s you retrieve updates made since a specified date and time, but not before.

    Shame. With a more fine grained API you could trivially display relevant Tweets during playback of on-demand video.

    Comment by Roo — March 26, 2009 #

  8. What software did you use for the twitterfall screen capture?

    Comment by hubs — April 11, 2009 #

  9. I used Snapz Pro X

    Comment by Roo — April 12, 2009 #

  10. If you haven’t already, you should check out the Apprentice Twitter app by thruSITES: http://www.thrusites.com/apprentice

    Comment by @ukapprentice — May 19, 2009 #

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