Fiducial Not Fiduciary

A one bit image from the Pixel Noise blog.

I’ve been having so much fun lately with the #definethis word game on Twitter.    I was very struck yesterday that several players seemed to confuse the daily word, fiducial,  with the very similar sounding but actually a quite different word fiduciary.’s definition of fiducial

Based on or having trust: fiducial dependence upon God.
Accepted as a fixed basis of reference or comparison: a fiducial point; a fiducial temperature.
does mention trust,  which is of course a critical component of a fiduciary relationship.

( defines fiduciary as:



Law . a person to whom property or power is entrusted forthe benefit of another.



Law . of or pertaining to the relation between a fiduciaryand his or her principal: a fiduciary capacity; a fiduciary duty.


of, based on, or in the nature of trust and confidence, asin public affairs: a fiduciary obligation of government employees.


depending on public confidence for value or currency, as fiat money.

Wikipedia’s disambiguation page for fiducial sheds some light.   The very first sentence on this page reads :
“In law the term “fiducial” means “of or pertaining to a fiduciary“.”   This page goes on to specify several other meanings,  including uses specific to imaging technology, mathematics, statistics and physics.   It was genuinely thrilling to me to explore these related yet distinct terms on Twitter.

Even though I am as yet following only less than 400 people,  I spent a little time yesterday un-following accounts that have not followed me back.    I was more than a little disappointed to find that TwitCleaner,  which my friend Holly highly recommended did not offer me an option of seeing a list of those who were not following me back.    I manually looked at all of the accounts TwitCleaner flagged (for spam, excessive posting, lack of interaction, etc.) and un-followed most everyone who is not following me back.    If you have 2,000 followers and you’re only following 20 users,  I’m sorry but you are not anyone I want to chat with on Twitter.

Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with being a broadcaster on Twitter.   There are lots of tweeps who enjoy getting updates in their stream and are not particularly concerned with who does or does not follow them back.    Like any and every other social media site,  Twitter is just a tool and there are probably as many different ways to use that tool as there are users.   It sometimes seems to me that a great deal of the tensions and disagreements in social media are between users who use the same tool differently and are unable to understand or accept that the other person’s different use of the same tool is every bit as legitimate as their own use.   (This applies in spades on Empire Avenue.)   Are you on Twitter?   Are you looking for reciprocal followers or do you prefer to subscribe to broadcasters to get information?   Leave a comment and let me know.

A Cacophany of Cacography on #definethis

Happy Friday, my friends.    Those who have been on Twitter awhile know that #FollowFriday,  frequently abbreviated #FF is a time to spam links to lots of people you don’t really know.   Heck,  if you get your handle included in a popular string,  it can lead to dozens of people re-tweeting your handle dozens of times.    It does not,  for the most part in my experience,  actually leading to lots of people following you.   There are many who argue that follow Friday has become a meaningless cacophony and there is at times real truth in this.

Lately,  I have been having so much fun playing #definethis with a few friends whom I round up with an Empire Avenue mission.     What I really love about it is that both my writer and word nerd kind of friends, who just love word games and my  hate to write friends all seem to enjoy playing.      I have talked to Heather,  the lady who tweets out the word of the day each morning.   She is frank to admit that she just abandoned #definethis due to being busy with other commitments.   It sounds as though the tweets are going out mainly because she lost the password to log into the account to turn them off.    So anyhoo,  this #FollowFriday  I decided to link to some of the great folks who popped into my #definethis column the day we posted a cacophonous cacography.

@nwjerseyliz  is I sometimes think my only friend who can spell.   More times than I care to count Liz has tactfully pointed out one of my typos or mis-spellings.    Her tweet:   “In medical school, would-be physicians are required to take Cacography 101. #DefineThis

Liz was not the only one to invoke a medical theme.  Jeroen @jvzelst,  was also quick to use doctor’s handwriting,  tweeting ,  “It just keeps amazing me how my pharmacist can decipher the cocography of my family doctor…#definethis”

My buddy Sharon, @crazykids6  the absolutely laugh out loud funny family blogger blamed her kids of course: “Boy, do my kids really need to work on their cocophany #definethis

My organic expert buddy  Craig @ogranichat was literary:  “I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words yet embedded in front of my eyes my cacography beckons me to do better.#definethis

My friend Mandy  (@zoe201015),  who has become one of the sharpest commentators on this blog,  observed:  The cocography present in my physicians notes regarding my last visit was overwhelming and unsettling. #definethis  (again with a doctor theme)

These are just five of the great friends who played my cacophonous cacography  game this week.   I hope to continue these lexicographical excursions and may make something sort of like this post my own personal  #FF traditon.

Mischievous Mis-spelling

That the lower case  ‘n’  and the lower case ‘h’  can look almost the same, to a not quite awake proof-reader’s not fully open eyes can be a curse or a blessing.   The thing is,  it was intended as a joke.  The fact that I mis-spelled  Holly Jahangiri‘s name in the tweet I got 20 folks on an Empire Avenue mission to tweet,  in the opinion of some just made it funnier.   I set out to see how many of the Empire Avenue folks who took my 1,000 eaves would send out this tweet for me:


@HollyJanangiri I DO believe in #prunebutt. (@libdrone made me say it!)

Those who know Holly may recognize that Prunebutt is a character on her blog,  sort of in the way I am trying to make Mr. Everything  (and still to come Ms. Efficiency) characters on this blog.   Folks like my friend Liz  (get that Hello World post down so I can link to your blog, Liz!) who know what they are doing on Twitter quickly realized that with her name mis-spelled  @HollyJanangiri  is not a real Twitter handle.  For some folks, like my buddy Hank,  the fact of the typo (which I publicly admitted as soon as Liz pointed it out to me) made the joke even funnier.

As with most everything I do,  there really is a lesson here for folks who are trying to promote their B  (blog, business, bullshit, buns, whatever).   And the lesson is of course,   humor sells.   I set up this mission so that in order to fulfill it folks had to actually copy and paste what I wrote;  the click through went to My twitter profile where some of the folks who clicked it followed me.   I gave away 1,000 eaves to 26  users and fully 19 of them posted that exact tweet.  A twentieth user modified the tweet to use Holly’s actual name and handle.   And one of the first 19 posted a follow up tweet with the name and handle corrected.  Given that it required more action that just clicking, that  I got a completion rate of almost 77%  seems fantastic to me.    That  folks will probably Still be laughing over this little episode after this post is published is a bonus.

So if you are trying to promote something (such as yourself) in the world of social media,  try to always remember you could do a lot worse than going for a laugh.

As The World Tweets

OR Ding Dong, The Terrorist Is Dead

(This post isn’t Really about the death of Osama bin Laden.)

It was either on Friday or on Saturday that a bunch of friends mentioned that they rely primarily on Twitter for their news.   Honestly,  it struck me as just a little bit odd.  While  up until Sunday night,  I did get headlines from a number of mainstream news organizations via Twitter,  I mostly got my news by reading online editions of various newspapers.  But Sunday’s night’s news of the killing of Osama bin Laden really changed all that for me.

I found myself on Twitter as the first word came around  that President Obama was going to make a big announcement.   And honestly, the jokes about the several-times delayed  Obama announcement had barely gotten started when I heard on Twitter that the announcement was almost certainly that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US forces.   When Obama finally spoke,  the White House site refused to serve me video and the NY Times site was inaccessible due to  very heavy traffic.   But Twitter never slowed down for a moment and by following hash tags and people you hear are tweeting live from in front of the White House or Times Square in New York.   On the tv,  which my spouse prevailed in Not tuning to any of the news channels during or after Obama’s address, it was widely reported that anchors were reading tweets on the air.  To be perfectly honest,  I don’t think I need a journalism degree to read the tweets for myself.

I got quotes and reactions to quotes during the speech and discussion with friends and strangers as each detail emerged.   It felt as though the whole wide world was talking about the Osama bin Laden story before, during and after it’s release in the mainstream media.   The act of sharing that big news story, both with my online friends and with citizen journalists reporting as the story breaks and people react to it felt more like living the story than merely reading about it or seeing a tv broadcaster report about it.

I tweeted to my friend that the experience of watching the Osama Killed story unfold on Twitter was going to force me to rethink the definitions of “news” and “interactive”.     I strongly suspect the next time there is a big story breaking,  I will most likely be hanging out on Twitter, both discovering and reacting to it with a community of friends and strangers.   Some people I know and talk to all the time.   And others who will be strangers to me, at least at the beginning.  For now I follow some of the people I met during the Osama story–I seem to be constantly gaining Twitter followers and Facebook friends these days.    And while I will not be canceling my cable tv subscriptions or avoiding newspaper web sites,  it really does feel to me that the primary way I access news just changed.   I suspect I will have occasion to write again that “the story Broke on Twitter.”

Tweeting Away To Margaritaville

I’ve been using Twitter for three or  four years now.    I don’t in any way, shape or form claim to be an expert Tweeter.   Though I do well understand that Twitter is all about conversations.   I only have a bit less than 400 followers.   Yet I actually know most of these people.   I’ve visited their blogs and  chatted with them on various websites and forums.   In many cases I know their spouses names and their children’s names.    Some of the publicists, publishers staff and authors in my  TweetStream are a bit more professional contacts than friends,  but again I do really know most of these folks.

As I said, I  know that Twitter is all about conversation,  and I have developed a pretty fair knack for having real back-and-forth conversations in 140 character blips.  (If only there had been a college course in editing down to 140 characters back when I was in college— would have saved me nearly 4 years of experimentation and discovery.)   My activity level on Twitter has certainly had its ups and downs over the years.  There have been days when I tweet and tweet and tweet all day and other days when I just couldn’t be bothered.    But yesterday and today as I  (SHHH!!! don’t tell) prepare to launch a quirky new site in collaboration with a dear new friend,  I found myself reaching out to people I haven’t spoken to much in ages,  calling in favors,  exchanging re-tweets.    I found that Twitter enabled me to put my name and handle in front of a whole bunch of people– in preparation for the big launch which we will be doing in a week or two.

Today,  I find myself falling in love with social media all over again– excited and thrilled by all of the great friends and acquaintances  I interact with online and looking forward to a future in which the sky is the limit.   Thank you so much for being part of my online ‘family’.

Twitter a Bad Neighbor in San Francisco?

Twitter,  a still relatively small (in business terms) company grew out of a project at a San Francisco firm,  has taken the Internet by storm with its very popular micro-blogging service.   Like many growing companies,  Twitter is need of more office space, projecting growing to a level of 3,000 employees.   San Francisco taxes businesses by a levy on payroll,  rather than the more common tax on earnings or,  as here in Washington state a tax on gross receipts.   This means that most tech companies who looked to expand a large work force would look to move out of San Francisco,  to an office park in Silicon Valley or to a completely different market outside of the Bay Area.  

Twitter however came to an agreement with the city of San Francisco under which they will lease for six years a much larger space in a vacant building only a block or so away from its current headquarters office.   In return,  San Francisco will exempt Twitter from the payroll tax for all new employees hired during the six year lease.   Twitter’s neighbors complain that the gentrification will only increase rents in the area  (San Francisco is a notoriously very expensive city) and that Twitter’s presence will not benefit them at all, given the tax exemption.    Seems to me San Francisco’s tax policy does tend to favor smaller companies or smaller offices of large companies.    Whether San Francisco’s tax break is a good deal or nor?    That’s harder to call.

What do YOU think?

For more information see this article in The Seattle Times:
Twitter tax deal creates classic San Francisco row

What’s Your Twitter Grade?

I am bi-polar.   I only fairly recently learned that bi-polar disorder is what is wrong with me– although I’ve realized for most of my life that _something_ was wrong.    Honestly,  I’ve found that it is much easier to deal with my illness now that I know what it is.     I’ve learned that when I start on some project or game or task late at night,  become engrossed and stick with it all night and just keep plugging away at it all the next day,   this is a sure sign that I have cycled up to manic.

I mentioned awhile back my new interest in the web site Empire Avenue,   and I continue to be really hooked on this game.    One of the things I noticed on my EA profile  (I seem to almost constantly hit F5 to see if anything has changed) is that EA has tentatively assigned me a not-half-bad Twitter score.     I don’t use Twitter the way most people do.    Some of the accounts I follow on Twitter are news organizations (I find the headlines that my echofon flashes in the lower right corner of my Firefox screen genuinely useful for following news) and the others are pretty much all people I have come to know,  either on various blogs and web sites or face-to-face.   And while some of my postings to Twitter are to publicize things I have written,  most of them are actual conversations with other sharp, clever people.

Anyhoo,  after having met and followed a bunch of new people after spending a night and a day hanging out on EA, Twitter, Facebook and a few other sites,   I decided to re-visit a site I’ve used before  Twitter Grader.  It;’s real easy to use.   Just type in a Twitter handle and hit Enter and after a brief interval the site provides you with a numeric grade,  on the 0-100 scale as well as an absolute rank  # xxx  out of the 9 million some odd Twitter users the site has graded.    My score currently is 87/100 and 1 million some odd out of 9 million some odd.    This seems pretty high to me since I have less than 300 followers.   So out of curiosity,  I ran some of the people I follow through the program and was a bit amazed that almost all of the folks I follow and talk to have scores in the high 90’s and  many of them are ranked 100/100.

Honestly,  I don’t really know what all this means,  yet I find it fascinating.    Do you use Twitter?  If so,  visit Twitter Grader and see what your score is.