Drive-by thoughts on Twitter, Grammys and Alison Krauss


(Credit: Josh Penland via
Flickr & Creative Commons.)

1. Twitter and real-time events: I’ve blogged before how Twitter can transform any real-time TV broadcast into a “community event.” I’ve seen this on broadcasts of major sporting events, political debates or, most dramatically, the recent inauguration. Having a “back channel” conversation is something that is old-hat to “techies” who have long used platforms like Internet Relay Chat (IRC), but it’s just now creeping out to a mainstream audience. Unless Twitter incorporates some type of “groups” into its platform, the casual user of Twitter will have no idea how to “tune into” an event. [At this point, the “easiest” way to follow a specific topic — and this is, at best, a hack — is to figure out what hashtag (#) people are using to discuss it (i.e., #Grammys or #bushfire) and go to and search for the term (without using the hashtag).] While there are an endless number of third-party services that can help one set up the equivalent of a Twitter group, this is one feature that needs to be baked into the platform.* What last night’s Grammys displayed, however, is what happens when a TV network decides that a national event is not important enough to air real-time nationally. Those watching the Grammys on eastern time were fire-hosing the event two hours before it was being broadcast on a delayed basis in the West. I didn’t realize what was taking place until two hours later, tweets started to sound like they were looping. In the future, the TV networks are going to have to figure that one out — or “the people” will. (I’ve never real-time tweeeted a TV drama, but I guess the same issues exist among fans of Lost, 24, etc. — the “spoiler” possibilities are obvious.)

2. Alison Krauss: I’ll be honest. I’m typically not a Grammys watcher, but got sucked in last night because of the hilarious commentary taking place on Twitter. Hint: Lots of Twitter users love tweeting about how much they hate the Grammys, which makes for some entertaining tweets. However, what I’ve noticed when I do tune is makes me think that voting is dominated by record labels and is typically skewed toward artists with the most mainstream appeal (Twitter users aren’t always “mainstream,” thus the Grammys-bashing). The exception to that rule (and this is a completely personal and uninformed or researched opinion) seems to be country music, where many of the big awards go to artists and projects that are obscure to mainstream radio-listening commercial-country music fans, but may appeal to “music people.” In other words, there seems to be a voting bloc outside of the Nashville “business” that skews the country Grammys towards edgier country projects, i.e., anything with historic recordings of Johnny Cash. (Personally, I like that.) Last night, however, the voting dynamic seemed to swing in the other direction, benefiting my favorite Nashville artist, Alison Krauss. Alison Krauss and Robert Plant won several Grammys in “non-Nashville” categories due (and this is where I’m guessing) to a bloc of Nashville votes vs. a split in voting by those in New York and LA. I’m sure there were many Grammy viewers wondering who exactly Alison Krauss is, not recognizing that she has now won career 26, moving ahead of Stevie Wonder and #2 on the all-time most Grammy-winning singer list.** (Disclosure: My wife knows I’m in love with Alison Krauss even though I’ve never met her except one time when I blathered something about her being my biggest fan when I was standing next to her at a small Nashville retail store.)

*During the Inauguration, CNN and Facebook provided a glimpse into what an integrated approach to communal real-time event-watching can be when they provided a means for Facebook users to have a one-screen interface for viewing the event and to engage in a text-based conversation taking place among their Facebook friends. As Facebook provides a means to categorize “friends” using different “lists,” the concept of “groups” is well established. Also, I believe one of the reasons FriendFeed has caught on among many early adopters is their inclusion of many logical approaches to the management of specific topics and the the ability to categorize different groups of “friends.”

**The issue of “career” Grammys needs to be cleared up by others. Information on Wikipedia is not definitive (and, frankly, in this case, has to be flat-out wrong as there are competing “facts” related to the number of Grammys she’s received. Uncontested facts: The #1 all-time Grammy winner is the producer Sir Georg Solt. (My number of 26 comes from the following: On her website, it lists 21 Grammys before last night, and last night, she won five more.