contact Geoff

Des Moines, Iowa


The Scotty Hendo Experiment

Geoff Wood

Early last week, I caught this tweet coming across my Twitterstream from @scottyhendo:

"Experiment: Use to search random word (i.e. chocolate). Follow 3 people who come up. And follow 1st 3 they've @ replied. 2:38 PM Jan 4th from TweetDeck

Interesting idea, I’ve never participated in a Twitter experiment. I decided to take up the challenge. I pondered a couple ideas of which random word to search upon and decided to go with “Ireland”.

As most folks who read this blog know, the wife and I had our wedding in Ireland several years ago. I wouldn’t describe myself as “Irish” necessarily, though I’m told by the genealogical folk in my family that I do have Irish blood (somewhere) in my ancestry so I can claim it if the situation suits. Regardless, we’re fans of the place.

Additionally, living in Ireland at some point in our lives is a bit of dream for me (one not yet shared by the wife) and by setting up the beginnings of a network there, through this experiment, is hopefully a worthwhile activity.

The Random Three
I chose the following three handles from a search on the word Ireland I’ve also attempted to describe their occupation and location:
  • @celticways – A tour guide in northwest Ireland.
  • @NiallHarbison – A chef in Dublin
  • @kylegreer – A college student northwest of Belfast (whose location was deduced by entering the lat/long coordinates he lists in his profile into Google Maps – neat feature)
The @Reply Nine
The following nine folks represent the most recent three @replies from each of the random three folks above:
  • @DaveSnape – A dental author in suburban Kansas City
  • @Brad_Callen – an internet marketing guy in Indianapolis. It’s interesting that this experiment led me back to Indianapolis. He also sent me a direct message upon immediately after I followed him.
  • @JaneBurgess – an Arizonan porn star, at least I think that's what she is, I’m afraid to check her website.
  • @philatom - A young Dubliner
  • @SEOidiot – a UK web developer and search engine guru
  • @robwatts – a UK internet strategist
  • @lucatony – no idea; no tweets since late December
  • @Julie_Gallagher – a Floridian writer and consultant
  • @JohnCleese – the British Comedian, someone pretending to be him, or someone tweeting on his behalf
Three Observations
Since things are rolling in this post as multiples of three, I’ll relate three things that I’ve observed throughout the week.

The first thing that I noticed is how easily political borders are broken down by Twitter. Of course, my initial three are all Irish – though two are from Northern Ireland (UK citizens) and one is from the Republic of Ireland. Of the nine @reply folks, nearly half the group is American. Three of the remaining five are UK, one is Irish (Republic), and then there is the other guy who hasn’t tweeted in several weeks.

My next observation is that the general context of my Twitterstream has not been changed greatly, but the timing has. The Irish folks are five hours ahead of Eastern time and thus, their early morning tweets make up most of my stream from 2 AM-7 AM EST.

My third observation is that Twitter really illustrates the variety in the English language. Despite the fact that Twitter forces all of us to abbreviate, it’s easy to see that those that speak the Queen’s English do it a bit different than us Rebel Yank’s here in the ‘States. A few examples: mate, arse, and cheers. They spell it different, too, as in “favourite”. They also appear to swear a lot more freely and discuss booze more often than we do. I don’t have real proof of that, since my sample is so small but it seems logical given the Puritanical beginnings of this nation.

Who stays?
Now that the experiment is over, it’s time to cut back my Twitterstream to those folks that I want to keep in mind each and every day.
  • @celticways  - stays in; it’s neat to see him discuss the tours he’s leading. He hasn’t mentioned any particular location I remember from our trip there but next time we go, perhaps we’ll use his services.
  • @NiallHarbison – stays in; he tweets frequently about food, technology, and Irish politics.
  • @kylegreer – stays in; I haven’t seen much from him, yet, but we’ll see how he progresses.
  • @DaveSnape – cut; he tweets dental questions (which don’t seem to hold my interest).
  • @Brad_Callen – stays in; he’s local and working in social media (two things I’m interested in).
  • @JaneBurgess – cut; Interesting tweets (such as asking if anyone in the area has rental houses for her friend to make a “film” in) but I’m afraid I’ll click on link that will get me put on a list.
  • @philatom – stays in; frequently @replies to NiallHarbison
  • @SEOidiot – stays in; nothing extraordinary so far to sway me either way. 
  • @robwatts – stays in; frequent tweeter and fairly amusing. 
  • @lucatony – cut; no tweets so there isn’t any need to follow.
  • @Julie_Gallagher – cut; very few tweets no compelling reason to keep her.
  • @JohnCleese – cut; for whatever reason, I’ve never been a big Monty Python fan. 
UPDATE: 4 folks participated in the experiment, here's another review: