Nothing really needs to be said about Twitter's popularity. It's arguably the hottest thing on the net right now as far as the media and armchair observers are concerned.
Now Twitter is set to 'take advantage' of that popularity in a new way.
Twitter has signed an agreement with Reveille Productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, two Los Angeles-based entertainment and production companies, who plan to produce an unscripted television series in which Twitter will be used to hunt celebrities.
According to Howard T. Owens of Reveille Productions, "Twitter is transforming the way people communicate, especially celebrities and their fans" and the new series will "unlock Twitter's potential on TV".
For those of us who don't regularly read scripts at The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills over lunch, here's the translation: Twitter is going to be at the center of a cheesy reality TV show that has a bunch of people wasting time stalking celebrities.
In a post on the Twitter blog, Twitter's Biz Stone clarified that this is not an "official" Twitter show but that Twitter has signed a "a lightweight, non-exclusive, agreement with the producers which helps [Reveille Productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners] move forward more freely".
Here's the problem: I think Twitter has done itself and its users a big disservice by signing anything. By getting involved with the most shallow form of entertainment (reality TV) that has infected the airwaves, Twitter is sending a clear message: Twitter is shallow.
And that's a shame. As much as I have my complaints about Twitter (it's unreliable at times, the signal to noise ratio isn't all that good and spammers are increasingly a problem), there's a lot to like about Twitter and it's being used in a variety of interesting ways by interesting people.
As Twitter's mainstream brand grows, presenting Twitter as a tool for stalking celebrities really diminishes the value of what the service is. A post on NowPublic says it best:
In a woop-dee-doo, fun-filled format that perfectly reflects the most banal, and plastinated parts of our narcissistweet culture, the show will put Twitter users in head-to-head battles "on the trail of celebrities".
The "competition", such as it is, sounds like little more than a platform to propagate the latest instantiation of celebrity-hungry stalkers in an exciting and new format.
There are plenty of sayings akin to "You are what you wear" or "You are what you eat". If Twitter's growth is driven by the entertainment industry, that's what Twitter will become: a tool for the entertainment industry. Maybe there isn't a problem with that, but I'm not sure that's what Twitter had in mind and I'm pretty sure, based on the reactions to the news, that it's not what Twitter's most passionate users want either.
I think the wisdom of Twitter management has to be questioned at this point. At the risk of being too blunt, reality TV is typically where damaged goods and has-beens go for their last 15 minutes of fame. Is Twitter's decision to acquiesce to a couple of reality TV producers saying something?
Photo credit: Mykl Roventine via Flickr.