There were two big news stories about Twitter over the weekend, and I'm not sure which was more disturbing.
The first was an inexplicably long piece in the New York Times about how the Web --- but especially social media -- has changed how PR people operate. (Apparently, the Times had run out things to say about Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin.)
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Bottom line? No only do newspapers, magazines, and other traditional media outlets have big signs saying "stinky" on their backs, even oh-so-hip blogs like TechCrunch and GigaOm have caught a bad case of the PR cooties.
The real action: obsessive tweeters. It seems flacks hope to skip right over people who might ask pesky questions about their clients and spread the manure -- er, I mean, the good word -- directly among the people themselves.
The real influentials are people with large Twitter followings, which also happens to largely coincide with folks who have a vested interest (and possibly also investments) in helping Web 2.0 startups succeed.
Per the Times:
Gone are the days when snaring attention for start-ups in the Valley meant mentions in print and on television, or even spotlights on technology Web sites and blogs. Now P.R. gurus court influential voices on the social Web to endorse new companies, Web sites or gadgets -- a transformation that analysts and practitioners say is likely to permanently change the role of P.R. in the business world, and particularly in Silicon Valley.
So it's not how good a product or company is that matters, or even how good its sales pitch is; it's how many of the Twitterati they can pull over to their camp through any means possible.
Which brings us to disturbing story number deux: the increasing number of attacks on Twitter. This past weekend brought yet another, but this was the first one I've seen attached directly to a moneymaking scheme.