An Oral-ish History of the First-Ever Live Tweeting of The Oscars, February 25, 2007

Yesterday morning, a Twitterbot tweeted at me that Sunday marked my five-year anniversary on Twitter. Seems I signed up for the service on February 25, 2007.

Why did I sign up for Twitter on that day? So I could “live-Tweet” the occasion for Defamer, Gawker Media’s Hollywood blog, edited at that time by the genius who invented the Oscars liveblog, Mark Lisanti (now of Grantland). As obvious as it all sounds now, it was completely nonobvious then—so nonobvious, in fact, that the Twitter founders had to reach out to us and hold our hands to make it happen.

Twitter had gone live the summer before, and this would be the first Oscar Sunday of the service’s existence. What follows is a transcript, culled from the depths of my harddrive, of how the first ever live-Tweeting of the Oscars went down.

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from: Nick Denton nick@gawker.com
to: Evan Williams <ev@obvious.com>, Lockhart Steele <lock@gawker.com>, Mark Lisanti <tips@defamer.com>
date: Tue, Feb 13, 2007 at 7:37 PM
subject: Re: twitter + oscar + defamer

Cd be good for defamer. Let me check with Lock and Lisanti…

On Tue, 13 Feb 2007 7:28 pm, Evan Williams wrote:

Hi, Nick.

We’re looking for a celebrity blogger to partner with to “host” the Oscars on Twitter — i.e., live-blog news and commentary during the event.

We would promote it to Twitter users with the idea of following what’s going on at the Oscars without watching them and/or watch them and get extra/interesting/funny commentary. All the posts could then be mirrored on a blog, of course.

Let us know if that’s interesting to you guys.

Ev.

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from: Lockhart Steele lock@gawker.com 
to: Nick Denton, Ev Williams 
date: Mon, Feb 19, 2007 at 11:17 AM

Sure — Mark is liveblogging it on Defamer, so we just need an intern from either Gawker or Twitter to take the best of his stuff and put it on Twitter. 

Lock

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from: Nick Denton nick.denton@gmail.com
to: Lockhart Steele
date: Mon, Feb 19, 2007 at 11:17 AM

I think they were hoping we’d use Twitter for the original publishing — and splice, I guess.

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from: Lockhart Steele lock@gawker.com 
to: Nick Denton
date: Mon, Feb 19, 2007 at 5:04 PM

Doesn’t make sense. Lisanti’s oscar blog is a huge traffic driver for Defamer — why give that to Twitter?

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from: Nick Denton nick.denton@gmail.com
to: Lockhart Steele
date:  Mon, Feb 19, 2007 at 5:24 PM

Okay, just turn them down.

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from: Biz Stone biz@obvious.com via gmail.com 
to: Lockhart Steele, Nick Denton
date: Mon, Feb 19, 2007 at 6:54 PM

Great! We can find someone to curate Mark’s stuff if necessary although we think it would be best coming straight from Defamer.

- We’ve reserved Twitter.com/defamer and will promote via email to users, UI announcement, and blog post 

- If you do find someone to post, Twitter updates can be submitted by SMS, IM, or Web and it will go straight out to your Twitter “followers” through those same channels. We also have an all-javascript badge so you can republish the updates on Defamer.com in your own style.

- We’re hoping you’ll promote on Defamer.com (i.e., Text FOLLOW DEFAMER to 40404 for instant Oscar updates this Sunday). Will this be possible?

Thanks!

Biz

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from: Lockhart Steele lock@gawker.com 
to: Biz Stone
date: Mon, Feb 19, 2007 at 5:04 PM

Sounds great, Biz. I’ll be with Mark and the Defamer guys during the Oscars — how easy is it to feed the stuff to Twitter? I might handle it myself. We can and will promote on Defamer. 

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from: Biz Stone biz@obvious.com
to: Lockhart Steele
date: Wed, Feb 21, 2007 at 9:13 PM

Awesome! The defamer profile is all set up: http://twitter.com/defamer You can sign in to twitter.com with this username and password:

defamer 
[redacted]

Then, head over to http://twitter.com/devices and activate your phone number and IM screename (AIM or Jabber/gtalk). Once you do that, you’ll have 3 ways to feed Twitter: 

- On the web at twitter.com
- via Instant Messenger
- by SMSing to 40404

Your best bet during the Oscars will probably be IM because it’s really fast and easy. (Although you don’t want to send them *too* frequently.) Please email or call Jack or myself if you have questions or want help with anything. 

jack@obvious.com
(415) 963-[redacted]

biz@obvious.com
(510) 220-[redacted]

Ps-We’re going to feature the profile, do a ui announcement, and blog about this tomorrow. Also, a friend in Yahoo’s PR department sent us this note today: 

Just was reading the twitter update and think the stuff with defamer is really cool.  I’m sure you’re already thinking about this but think some of the entertainment outlets like hollywood reporter or variety would think this is pretty cool and write about it.  It’s pretty timely and everyone is writing about the oscars. 

Thanks,

Biz

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from: Biz Stone biz@obvious.com via gmail.com 
to: Lockhart Steele
date:  Sat, Feb 24, 2007 at 12:19 PM

Hi Lock,

If you prefer just to sign in to Twitter.com and update via the web that’s fine too—you don’t have to fiddle with the IM or Mobile settings. Let us know if you have questions. 

I’d recommend about 6 or so Twitter updates per hour since you have lots of folks signed up to receive them via SMS while they watch. (300 so far).

Thanks,

Biz

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from: Lockhart Steele lock@gawker.com
to: Biz Stone
date:  Sat, Feb 24, 2007 at 12:51 PM

Great. I’ll be on AIM too — lockloct. Can’t see any glitches, but I’ll ping you if I have problems. 

Lock

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from: Biz Stone biz@obvious.com via gmail.com 
to: Lockhart Steele
date:  Sun, Feb 25, 2007 at 8:24 PM 

my AIM is [redacted]

you start posting soon?

Biz

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Defamer Oscars Liveblog

6:05: A quick programming note: If you text FOLLOW DEFAMER to 40404, you’ll get instant Oscar updates from this liveblog to your mobile phone from Twitter.com. Sound like an unbelivable amount of fun? It is! You can leave the laptop behind and stay connected even while using the bathroom!

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AIM IM with bunsen096 [aka Mark Lisanti] 2/25/07 9:26 PM

lockloct text me the latest update?
bunsen096 Oscar Poll FuckageWatch: Upset! Alan Arkin’s cracked out grandpa beats Eddie Murphy for Supporting Actor! The Curse of the Fat Suit is in effect.
lockloct 12 characters too long
lockloct i expertly edited out several “the”s

… 10:51 PM

bunsen096 6:53: The Departed wins Adapted Screenplay, with William Monahan admitting a debilitating Valium addiction. We suppose this means we’re not going to get Sacha Baron Cohen discussing his near death experience within the rancid folds of Ken Davitian’s anus. Oh well. We’ll always have the Globes.
lockloct don’t freak
lockloct but we’re up to 520 twitter subscribers
bunsen096 HAHAHAHA

… 12:05 AM

lockloct 518 subscribers
lockloct 2 people have unsubscribed
bunsen096 HAHA
bunsen096 9:08: But then again… Scorsese wins Best Director! We can feel joy again! (A lock, but still. Defamer HQ just exploded in relief. No one wanted to see those eyebrows droop once again in defeat.)
bunsen096 9:15: And the big one, courtesy of Bald Jack and Diane Keaton: The Departed, Best Picture. Graham King’s emotional acceptance speech is marred when Paramount emperor Brad Grey unexpectedly emerges from the head of the giant Oscar at center stage, sneaks up on King as he recites the litany of names he needs to thank, then snatches Oscar from the stunned, credited producer. We knew he’d get his moment of glory, whatever it took.

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from: Lockhart Steele lock@gawker.com
to: Biz Stone
date:  Mon, Feb 26, 2007 at 3:32 PM

Hey Biz — good fun yesterday! Hope it lived up to your expectations. 

Lock

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from: Biz Stone biz@obvious.com via gmail.com 
to: Lockhart Steele
date:  Mon, Feb 26, 2007 at 5:35 PM

Yes, it was fun! You guys had over 500 folks getting your updates via SMS during the show and you’ve actually held on to 468. Feel free to keep distributing content to those users, it seems like a fun way to get the dirt. 

Was hoping for a little link-love from Defamer.com. Maybe you guys can still think of a way to work that in?

Thanks,

Biz

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from: Lockhart Steele lock@gawker.com
to: Biz Stone
date:  Mon, Feb 26, 2007 at 5:42 PM

We gave you guys a full-item plug in the liveblog on the site — did you not see?

Lock

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from: Biz Stone biz@obvious.com via gmail.com 
to: Lockhart Steele
date:  Mon, Feb 26, 2007 at 5:47 PM

Oh shoot, I missed that. See it now. Thanks Lock!

Did get some feedback from folks that they wished for more twitter updates about what it was like *being* at the Oscars—most people didn’t get that you were actually there from the updates. Lot of good feedback though. People had fun. 

Thanks again,

Biz

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from: Lockhart Steele lock@gawker.com
to: Biz Stone
date:  Mon, Feb 26, 2007 at 6:07 PM

Ha, well, you realize we don’t actually attend, yes? Mark liveblogs from his sofa. 

Lock

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… 1:23 PM Monday… Reconnecting to bunsen096…

bunsen096 good morning!
lockloct hihi
bunsen096 i am a mess
bunsen096 what did you do after you left?
lockloct went home, shoveled down a little food, crashed!
lockloct you?
bunsen096 stayed up playing wii

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[photo at top: Defamer HQ, February 25, 2007, via my Flickr
  1. miguelrios reblogged this from lock
  2. mbyhoff reblogged this from lock and added:
    “Ha, well, you realize we don’t actually attend, yes? Mark liveblogs from his sofa.” Dying.
  3. fek reblogged this from lock
  4. katemaxx reblogged this from lock and added:
    This is awesome.
  5. popculturebrain reblogged this from lock and added:
    (ht Weber)