Thursday Feb 10

Painting Brains Green and Gold, One Tweet at a Time

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Green Bay Packer Fans on TwitterThere’s nothing more that I can appreciate in a sports fan than his/her knowledge of what they’re actually talking about. For the most part, Packers fans are known for being some of the more knowledgeable fans about their team in pro sports. While I’ve always been a consistent diehard Packers fan since age 3, my level of detailed knowledge in the team has dramatically increased over the past six months. No, I didn’t move in with Aaron Rodgers for the offseason.  Instead, I simply joined Twitter.

For those that aren’t familiar with the monster enabler of information transfer, Twitter is a website that allows users to create their own accounts and “tweet” whatever information they would like to share with other users that “follow” them (subscribe to their feeds). Twitter is more anonymous than Facebook in that you may not know some/most of your followers or people that you follow. This, however, is part of the beauty of Twitter - being able to share and receive information with people you don’t know. This way, you get exposed to a wider range of information and opinion.

The best use of Twitter, in my opinion, is tweeting not about what’s going on in your life, but rather a single subject, say your favorite football team: the Green Bay Packers. Sounds like you’d run out of things to talk about right around early June then, right? Not when there are still thousands of other Twitter users also dying to discuss the very nitty-gritty details of the Packers draft, OTA’s and upcoming season. And that’s exactly where the tremendous amount of knowledge transfer occurs.

With Twitter, I am able to get ten times more detail about any Packers-related subject than anywhere else, and get that information about ten times faster. My large list of people that I’m following consists mostly of Packers writers, bloggers, players and fans. This list will typically generate about 200 tweets every hour…during the driest-NFL months of the offseason (I just got 25 new tweets while writing this paragraph). I’ll get more information about the Packers in that single hour than all of the newspapers in the state of Wisconsin combined for that day. 

Unlike the long-winded, sugar-coated newspaper/magazine articles that columnists write, Twitter offers a domain where these same columnists can quickly dish information out to fans and critics without have to take the time to type up a story about that topic. For example, Packers’ beat writers Greg Bedard (Milwaukee Sentinel Journal), Mike Vandermause (Green Bay Gazette) and Rob Demovsky (Green Bay Gazette) make it so that you’re almost “there” during the Offseason Training Activities, with their constant tweeting about a near-interception or lineup change. 

Twitter has asserted itself as the main hub of information transfer; so much that fans expect most writers and sports critics to have a Twitter account and actively tweet new information. Herm Edwards, a former Head Coach and current NFL analyst, just joined Twitter nation and now spends most mornings answering questions from fans almost exclusively related to predictions for the 2010 NFL season. Fans now know that they don’t have to wait until a special on NFL Network airs at noon to hear if NFL analysts think their team is playoff-bound or not in 2010. The tweeting is so constant and immediate that ESPN’s Adam Schefter was beating Roger Goodell in this past draft’s first round through Twitter in announcing each team’s selection.

As a Packer fan on Twitter, having several of the players on the site makes things even more interesting. Though the players’ tweets are often times unrelated to football during the offseason, fans gain insight to what type of people the players are in real life. Some of the bigger names from the Packers on Twitter are: Aaron Rodgers, Nick Barnett, Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley, Atari Bigby, Will Blackmon and Ryan Grant. 

After only a small amount of time using the tool, Twitter can make any given person look like an expert in front of his/her friends on a given subject simply due to the nature by which Twitter operates. An innocent one sentence tweet by one user about the Packers’ lack of depth at a certain position can lead to a lengthy discussion between several users on how the Packers will address that need in free agency or the draft. From there, all sorts of speculation and debate can come about, giving users more and more knowledge of the subject at hand.

About the only major downside to Twitter is the lack of credibility in some of the information that is being shared. Rumors on Twitter make for massive amounts of excitement and inquiry but should be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve heard rumors during this offseason about the Packers landing players like Brandon Marshall and Albert Haynesworth – and if you’ve been a Packer fan for some time, you know these types of rumors usually don’t have legs.

Despite the need to be wary of what seems like non-factual information and gossip, Twitter serves as a wonderful device for fans to share their opinion and enhance their knowledge of the team they follow. For Packer Nation in particular, it helps preserve an-already knowledgeable fan base and facilitates a friendly interaction between Packer players and fans. Who knew that such a simple tool could become such a major driver of information transfer? It goes well-appreciated by #packernation.

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0 # Jr Augustine 2010-06-06 22:00
One of the nice things about twitter is that news is hitting the stream so fast that any false information is corrected rather quickly.
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0 # John Rehor 2010-06-06 22:25
Twitter has been both a blessing with the information being received much faster than ever before. Unfortunately, having to filter the true from the rumor is something that needs constant improvement on everyone's part. Myself included.
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0 # Jr Augustine 2010-06-11 09:21
Quoting John Rehor:
Twitter has been both a blessing with the information being received much faster than ever before. Unfortunately, having to filter the true from the rumor is something that needs constant improvement on everyone's part. Myself included.

It's definitely important to double check a tweet with what others are saying, but even then you can find a case of rumormill-itis.
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