Remembering David Carr


David Carr was on my mind yesterday. In the morning, I thought: gee, maybe I'll ask David if he's got a lead on a programming internship at the Times. Then I thought about seeing David and his wife, who he often referred to as "my Jill," again at SXSW.

Later in the day, David came up again when the Twiangulate team happened to be analyzing which Twitter accounts are most followed by the NYT's (currently) 774 reporters, editors, photographers and producers on Twitter (a list compiled by @nytimes.)

Right below @nytimes itself on the list was @carr2n, aka David Carr, being followed by 520 Times journalists.

Good for you, David, I thought. This amazing man -- the boy from Hopkins, Minnesota, brilliant writer, father of three, recovering crack addict, recovering alcoholic, cancer survivor -- is followed by more Times journalists than, among many many others: the WSJ (300 NYT followers), President Obama (244), Bill Clinton (181), Stephen Colbert (256), Lena Dunham (182), Jon Stewart( 175), Rupert Murdoch (204), Mike Bloomberg (172), and David Axelrod (159.)

(Here's the link to Twiangulate's tabulation of the top 300 Twitter accounts followed by NYT journalists.)

David also has far more NYT journalists following him than more famous colleagues like @nickkristof (1,563,804 followers, 378 from NYT staff) or @NYTimeskrugman (1,309,170 followers, 263 NYT staff.) And David soars above NYT editors past and present: Bill Keller (423), Jill Abramson (399), and Dean Baquet (388).

Last night I watched David via the Internet (with "my Sophie") as he interviewed Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald. With his astute questions wrapped in awe-shucks shrugs and his nasal twang, David kept the conversation lively and fun. (If you want a quick Carr-shtick refresher, watch this video.)

At one point amid the grim talk of constricting liberties, encryption and our metastasizing national security complex, David drawled, "I just gotta channel all the moms in the audience for a sec. So you’re in Russia, now you’re able to stay for 3 years, right? So are you getting enough to eat? Is the food good? You look good!”

Typical shtick. Love you David.

And I thought of David again at 10.36pm, when my phone beeped. I picked up the phone from the side table and flipped it over and saw the tail end of a headline.

"Dead at 58." Which then rolled off the screen.

David Carr was older than that, I thought. Then I thought: that's weird, why am I thinking of David? Certainly David was older than 58.

I hit the Times app and there was the news flash at the top of the page. David Carr, New York Times Media Columnist, Dead at 58.

I first got to know David in 2010 when I invited him to join a panel at SXSW called "Media Armageddon: What Happens When The New York Times Dies.” Scenes from David's trip to Austin and our raucous panel ended up in the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times.

After that I'd sometimes stop by the Times building on eighth avenue to see David. We'd have lunch in the company cafeteria. David always insisted on paying. We'd sit at one of the big round tables and talk about the coming Newsopalypse. Gossip about web moguls. Our kids' exploits. Book publishing. While we were talking, people lined up to ask David questions, tell him things, share stories. It was like sitting in a diner with the mayor of some small Midwestern town.

Other times I'd just just say hello to David while he stood smoking on the sidewalk on 40th street outside the NYT, talking with other smokers or to colleagues as they came and went. I remember one day it was Neil Young's biographer, then a young journalist visiting from Finland, then rising NYT star (today of CNN) Brian Stelter.

Why was this guy @carr2n the NYT staff's favorite person on Twitter?

One answer is that David was one of Twitter's most skillful wordsmiths. I believe he had to restrain himself to keep from gilding or turning every phrase that flowed though his keyboard. It's also obvious that, as the man who wrote about the people who write and the people who pay them to write, David was a beacon for NYT editorial staff and other journalists.

But David's skill with words on Twitter was a subset of a much larger and more important trait: David loved to talk with people and Twitter is just another way of doing that. He loved the little stuff, the repartee, the stories, the gossip, and most of all, the people he met. He was happy to see people, happy to hear about their lives, happy to share the journey, happy to share a story. Beyond the beautiful writing, the amazing life story, David summed up easily: he cared.

When David interviewed people in front of an audience and it came time for the hard questions -- bankruptcy or layoffs or insider trading or whatever -- David had a signature move. I'm sure he would have done this with Ed Snowden if they'd been sitting side by side in the same room, rather than connected across thousands of miles via fiber cables.

David would scooch his chair closer to the interviewee and pause. "Now. I have a hard question to ask. I have to ask it. We can hold hands if you like while I ask it."

It was pure shtick, always drawing a laugh. And, in framing the question with that theatrical flourish, the moment became a celebration of compassion and collaboration: look, some of life is awesome, some of life sucks; all the other bullshit aside, we're just humans together; we're going to get through this together.

Rest in peace David. Now that you're gone, we're going to have to learn to hold each other's hands and listen to each other's stories without you.

-- Henry Copeland

How recruiters can source great candidates by analyzing Twitter's hidden networks


Looking for awesome job candidates? By analyzing who key people within a target industry or business follow, Twiangulate helps recruiters identify highly-value, passive candidates.

This blog posts shows how just ten minutes of digging can reveal hundreds of potential job candidates on Twitter. As you'll see below, this can be done even inside a notoriously insular company like Apple.

Twitter is clearly loved by many recruiters. But most recruiters' Tweets are stuck in web 1.0 -- the broadcast era. When trying to connect with job candidates, these recruiters use Twitter as just another channel for blasting out job openings. A few recruiters up their game by tweeting about their companies' uniformly awesome corporate cultures. Some even use #hashtags so their tweets are seen by potential hires interested in specific content.

And a few recruiters, the really advanced ones, have figured out how to use Twitter advanced search to identify people interested in specific content or working in a specific company.

But this is just scratching the surface. Twitter's social graph, aka 'who follows who,' contains a treasure trove of information for smart recruiters. Twiangulate can help recruiters expose the hidden networks of influence by analyzing who is followed by people within a particular field or organization or company unit.

For example, let's say you desperately need to hire an iCloud programmer with experience at Apple.

The first step is Twiangulate's bio search. Putting "iCloud" into the search quickly yields up 262 names. Scanning the list, @ThomasHan quickly jumps out. He works in Cupertino and his bio says: "Taiwan. Purdue. Cornell. Apple iCloud Engineer. Husband. Charlie, the doggie. Views and opinions do not represent those of my employer."

"Apple iCloud Engineer" sounds promising. The traditional recruiter would try to get into a conversation with Thomas Han, perhaps get him on the phone and see if he knows any Apple colleagues who might be looking for a job. But Twiangulate let's you turn @ThomasHan's Twitter connections into the decoder ring that produces a list of several hundred programmers at Apple.

How? Your next stop is Twiangulate's "reach" tab, which lets you review @ThomasHan's most influential followers.. This search yields a snapshot of Han's 100 most influential followers. Turns out Han DOES have the ear of a bunch of hefty Tweeters both inside Apple and outside, confirming that he might be a good person to try to hire. But this list yields more: the names of other Apple staff.

Twiangulation for recruiters

It turns out two of Han's influential followers, @eschaton and @espresso, list Cupertino, home of Apple's HQ, in their bios. Grabbing their names and switching over to the "followed by" tab, we can now do a search that discovers all the tweeters who @thomashan, @eschaton and @espresso follow in common.

Bingo, we've now got a list of 302 people, many of whom are current or former Apple programmers.

And swapping some of these names into the same 'who do these people follow in common?' search function yields even more candidates. Now add all these names to a Twitter list, for example, Great Programmers We Want to Hire. You've located a Fort Knox of well-respected but behind-the-scenes Apple staff.

Who does Congress follow?


Who does Congress follow? Dan Amira and the New York Magazine Intelligencer team did a lot of good digging into a pile of Twiangulate data a few weeks back.

The usual suspects @thehill (followed by 62.9% of Congress), @politico (61.2%), @cspan (61%) and @rollcall (59.9%) were most followed. The big surprise came in the strong showing of the success of @mikeallen, who tied the venerable @washingtonpost at 53.3%.

How Twiangulate measures reach


Instead of relying on complex, secret “influence” algorithms like Klout and Peer Index, Twiangulate measures influence as reach, the number of people who follow a tweeter's real biggest followers.

When calculating biggest followers, Twiangulate only includes people who might actually read tweets. We exclude mega accounts that follow more than 11,000 people or with a friend/follower ratio below 1.5.

That’s real clout, right?

Trying too hard in your Twitter bio?


Here's a list of overused words in Twitter bios that fail by telling rather than showing. Click the words below to see who uses each in Twitter.

Expert or Maven (33,209) It’s up to your peers, not you, to declare you an expert. Too often, seeing "expert" in a bio sends us running in the opposite direction. Kinda like being a self-described "winner."

Guru (14,309) Nothing shouts "leader of a cult with one member" more than a self-titled "guru." Unless you're a yogi or a certified leader of Eastern religion, leave the Guru-ing to, you know, Gurus.

Social Media (44,518) If you're a "social media" strategist, chances are that your intended audience is full of other "social media" types. And they don't call it social media, they just call it "work."

Enthusiast (39,237) Enthusiast sounds sweeter and less pompous than guru or expert. It's just that, well, lots of other people are enthusiastic about being an enthusiast. How about "fan?" Or, if you're just trying to say it with more syllables, try "aficionado."

Nerd (31,052) Back in the day, "nerd" was an inflammatory word that conjured up images of taped-together glasses and greasy hair. Today, "nerd" can be synonymous with "enthusiast," both in meaning and frequency of use on the internet.

Geek (68,754) The debate has raged over the differences between nerds and geeks since Sputnik. This venn diagram indicates a geek is a nerd with social skills. There are a lot of networked nerds out there.

Human or Person (128,109) It may feel sensitive to finish off your bio with "human" or "person." But your writing should prove you're not a robot.  If your bio says "father, skateboarder, guitarist, social media guru, cyborg," THEN we're excited.

2.0 (13,711), Interactive (12,179), and Online (103,349)Do you add "Earth" to your mailing address?

Don't despair if you're using some of these words or phrases.  But if you're using two at once -- for example Social Media Enthusiasts (2791) or Expert Gurus (470) -- do some pruning.

And if you're using three -- Online Mavens of Geekdom -- hire a human.

Bonus: There are 8901 ninjas on twitter. Who's minding the dojo?

For more fun with buzzword (ab)use, check out LinkedIn's most overused profile buzzwords.

Mapping Twitter activity during the Egyptian revolution


"In a case of ironic symbolism, the far left-most satellites are the Whitehouse, State Department, and Wael Ghonim's employeer, Eric Schmidt, who is merely a speck on the map. And that's probably how everyone in the rest of the network would like this future to look. " See the map here.

LinkedIn adds connection mapping for member profiles


LinkedIn's new service is very cool, allowing a user to label the various groups she discerns among her contacts. The cluster mapping was, as far as I could tell, very accurate. Here's the map for Henry Copeland.

Wikipedia social network analysis discovers hierarchies


"Early results may indicate that Wikipedia isn’t as communal, egalitarian and free of division of labor as thought. Hierarchies featuring bosses and workers, elites and the not-so-elite, have developed. This may, in fact, be necessary when humans organize to produce something as complex as an encyclopedia, despite the essentially democratic nature of network technologies that can, theoretically, allow anyone to participate equally." Plus cools maps and descriptions of code/hardware. Social network analysis of Wikipedia.

Twitter trending topics: say you want a revolution?


Are Twitter users idiots who can't spell John Lennon's name right?

No doubt some of them are dumb enough to spell it "Lenon," which is currently listed as a trending topic.

In fact, "Lennon" seems to show up at least five times as often if you run simultanous searches of Lennon and Lenon.

So it appears that Twitter's trending topic algorithms ignore "Lennon" because the name of the greatest Beatle already shows up thousands of times every day of the year. In other words, the machine thinks Lennon isn't news. Clearly some tweaking needed.

This seems to parallel the situation with the nontrending Wikileaks.

Update: here's a good analysis of the Lenon/Lennon problem, concluding that "But it’s important to stop at this point and note that even though the reasons are understandable, they still make absolutely no sense."

How to find people on Twitter


There are two easy ways to find a person on Twitter, even when the person is not using her/his exact name as a Twitter ID.

First, you can use Twiangulate's "keyword" search for the person's name. Here are 53 people who are identifying themselves as "Lucy Smith" on Twitter.

If this method doesn't work, try to think of two or three people who might know the person you're looking for and then input their names into Twiangulate's "common friends" search.

For example, if you're looking to follow Elizabeth Spiers, Gawker's first editor, you might look for her among the friends of NYC media insiders like David Carr (@carr2n) and Gawker (@gawker) and Anil Dash (@anildash.) Sure enough, she's right there.