Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Repost: The Creature From The Black Lagoon

It came from a land far away and spoke a language most of us do not understand. It struck fear in the hearts of those without iPads, smart phones or Twitter accounts. Why it had come was not completely clear, but everyone who encountered it had a strong reaction. Then, just like that, it was gone.

Sunday afternoon will breathe life back into this strange West Coast creature. Like it or not, the #NASCAR hashtag will once again come to life.

Part man and part machine, the hashtag creature has at its heart an algorithm of double top-secret NASCAR information. It can chew through thousands of NASCAR tweets in seconds and leave them in a heap by the side of the road. Only the chosen few emerge unscathed and crawl to the safety of the "landing page."

Figuring out what makes the creature tick is a mystery guarded closely by a select few gathered in an undisclosed location. Laptops at the ready, they try to control the beast by monitoring its diet of social media content. The idea is to keep the creature focused on the race at hand. It's not an easy task.

An algorithm is the way to make a computer solve a problem. In this case, the problem seems to be how to create a stream of NASCAR content quickly enough to attract new fans during a live race. The solution is to feed the tweets of well-known NASCAR personalities and veteran fans into the hashtag creature and see what comes out.

What came out last Sunday was a homogenized stream of milk. Instead of featuring the passionate fans, the hashtag creature pushed them aside and embraced the teams, sponsors and NASCAR personalities. The results were bland and easy to digest.

This Sunday, there is little doubt that many more fans will try to feed the creature by creating tweets strictly for the purpose of making it to the hashtag stream. In a hectic race on a track known for long green flag runs, sorting the thousands of tweets may prove to be a very interesting challenge for the hashtag monster.

Casual fans may love the results and those looking to use Twitter for the first time may find this is a perfect pathway to NASCAR. It's still a bit puzzling what appeal this stream has to hardcore fans or veteran Twitter users. Most have set-up personal timelines to feature their own NASCAR favorites.

As the hashtag creature chews through the social media churn from MIS, unfolding tire stories and driver complaints may cause some momentary indigestion. This Sunday, before the creature sinks again into the dark Pacific Ocean, we will get a much better picture of whether we have to respect this monster or simply smile and pat it on the head.

Happy to have your opinion on the #NASCAR hashtag project currently underway on Twitter.


William said...

Am I the only one who thinks that there is something inherently wrong with the Nascar product if they (Nascar) feel they have to offer viewers of a live event something else to do other than watch their live event?

AncientRacer said...

Movie Poster is SO COOL. Just SO COOL

That is all. :)

AncientRacer said...

Having got past chucking about the Movie Poster I have to say the column today is one of your best, JD


Specially this:

An algorithm is the way to make a computer solve a problem. In this case, the problem seems to be how to create a stream of NASCAR content quickly enough to attract new fans during a live race. The solution is to feed the tweets of well-known NASCAR personalities and veteran fans into the hashtag creature and see what comes out.

Makes me think of a wonderful Steak Dinner with all the bells and whistles.

Lovely going in, but we all know what happens later

"...And So It Goes"

To quote (the magnificent) Linda Ellerbee :)

Anonymous said...

I see no issues with the new Twitter/NASCAR page at all. I think it's great. If it can help attract and keep at least one fan in tune, it is a success.

Joj said...

This was your best column to date. Spot on - love the poster.
Does any one know how much money NASCAR made from Twitter last week?

Daly Planet Editor said...


Was advised by NASCAR this week that they did not pay Twitter for the "landing page."

Had quite a discussion with the Charlotte gang on the hashtag topic this past week.


John in Chico said...

I saw that movie almost as many times as I saw Redline 7000. That creature scared the crap out of me. Had to se it over and over.
But I thought he lived in the Florida Swamps, the Pacific ocean is too cold.
The lovely maiden would faint every time the creature cam along to pick her up!
Hashtag? Never mind the hashtag, let's watch the movie.

Rebecca Kivak said...


No to your question. Twitter is a great companion for the NASCAR races as you can find out more information, sometimes before the TV announcers broadcast it, as well as instance analysis and reaction from reporters and fans. Twitter works in tandem with the broadcast.

Rebecca Kivak said...

William, I guess I should say it's not that there is "something inherently wrong" with the broadcast, but that Twitter acts as a great companion to the broadcast. For many, Twitter has become a necessary component to watching races and allows you to be more interactive while watching them.

Rob said...

NASCAR is working hard to insure you learn no more from twitter about what happens during the race than you will learn from their television partner or any other 'stakeholder'. NASCAR still thinks we are stupid, needy fans, and all they do reinforces this view.

Oh, and I love the writers that praise this approach.

OSBORNK said...

I think that when NASCAR partners with Twitter to help keep the viewers informed about what is going on in the race, it tells a lot about the lack of race information the TV partners are providing during the race. You only need a crutch when you are not doing well. If the racing and coverage was interesting, we wouldn't need Twitter and other gadgets to break the boredom.

GinaV24 said...

Love the movie poster! I'm not into being fed homogenized pablum by whoever designed the NASCAR algorithm. Give it to me straight up or not at all.

Heck, I already have to use trackpass, radio feed, blogs and twitter to follow the race. I used to just watch it on TV and use my computer so I could hear the scanners. That's how far the "product" NASCAR and the TV partners puts out has drifted off course.

Great column, JD.

Anonymous said...

I don't use Twitter because I'm bored with the TV presentation. I use it, in conjunction with RaceBuddy when available, because I usually have an internet connection away from a TV during a live race which is often the case on my Sundays. Twitter is how I track what's specifically going on with my fave drivers and teams. I love this personalisation that I can whether I'm seeing TV or not!

Charlie Spencer said...

"...there is little doubt that many more fans will try to feed the creature by creating tweets strictly for the purpose of making it to the hashtag stream."

That alone sounds like a reason to ignore it. That's the electronic equivalent of those goobers who stand behind the pre-race talking heads, waving their attention-seeking signs.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Stopped by the #NASCAR hashtag at 1:30PM. Dove Care for Men sponsored tweet and no fans tweets on the page.

Guess the algorithm is working just fine.


RPM said...

Like everything else, NASCAR wants to be in control of this media exposure. You won't find any unfiltered (a/k/a honest opinion) content if they can help it.

RPM said...

Oh forgot to mention, Salute to AncientRacer for quoting Linda Ellerbee... on a roll.