#RIPSRNathan and Young People’s Social Memory On Twitter

At 2204hrs on 22 August 2016, Channel News Asia broke the news of former President of Singapore, Mr SR Nathan’s passing. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) made a formal statement of the death moments later around 2240hrs.

I took to Twitter to observe how young people were responding to the death of Singapore’s sixth and longest-serving president (two terms, 1999-2011). Here are the first one hundred sentiments I curated from young people on Twitter – gauged by their use of internet vernacular, their adoption of parlance popular among young people, and my brief views of their profile pictures and biographical information – collected between 2240hrs and 2320hrs, back-scrolled to the earliest possible Tweets on #RIPSRNathan.

Continue reading #RIPSRNathan and Young People’s Social Memory On Twitter

Singaporeans react to the National Day Parade #NDP2016 on Twitter

Singapore’s National Day Parade took place yesterday on 9th August 2016. The annual Parade took place at Kallang Stadium and was broadcast live on local free-to-air channels. The main festivities took place between 1836hrs and 2021hrs. I tracked the official #NDP2016 hashtag on Twitter between 1800hrs and 2100hrs and report on the peaks and troughs of viewers’ reactions. Screengrabs taken on 9th August 2016, between 1800hrs and 2100hrs, GMT+8.

Continue reading Singaporeans react to the National Day Parade #NDP2016 on Twitter

Outages, Corporate communications, and Customer service.

Imagine you are a corporate entity. Your officious websites are forced offline for almost 24 hours. The intranet is also down. There is no backup site or internal operating system to mobilize. You have no way of making announcement blasts or contacting your tens of thousands of panicky staff and students. Social media to the rescue?

But not everyone knows to turn to Facebook or Twitter for updates. After all, your corporate Facebook and Twitter boast around 70,000 and 9,000 followers respectively. And these aren’t official avenues on which important information is usually disseminated. What now? Continue reading Outages, Corporate communications, and Customer service.

One month of Snowden on Twitter.

One month ago today, former CIA/NSA/DIA intelligence officer and whistleblowerEdward Snowden Tweeted for the first time.

This caused a mass frenzy.
(see CNNThe Guardian, LA Times, Time, and UpWorthy)

His verified Twitter account with a super boss handle, @Snowden, now boasts over 1.5 million followers.


He also follows only the National Security Agency/Central Security Service Twitter account, @NSAGov.image2

On this Twitter monthsary (sorry), I handcode Snowden’s 198 Tweets to date, and feature selected displays of his Internet savvy. Screengrabs taken on October 30th, 2015, 1200hrs GMT+8.



Snowden’s virgin Tweet received an explosive reception from followers.

“Can you hear me now?” has since amassed roughly 125k ReTweets and 124k Favourites.


The response ranged from direct YES-es

to jokes

to wee trolling

to self-promotional links.

Most followers, however, rallied behind Snowden to bring his game on.

The momentum of his rising followers, RTs, and Favs surprised many.

Some reacted to his single prized followee.

Others alluded to the 2014 documentary film, Citizenfour, directed by Laura Poitras who interviewed Snowden with reporter Glenn Greenwald.

Soon, all sorts of strange requests starting pouring in.

But my favourite were the Twitter tips from followers.


If anything, Snowden’s first Twitter conversation with renown American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson or @neiltyson (aka the Internet’sFavourite. BadassMeme.), prepared us for the Snowden wit that was to come.


Snowden learns things about Twitter.

He is also incredibly sassy.


Snowden fights the good fight.

He uses his newfound Twitter clout for good ends.


He even responds to critique in his public engagement.


Snowden’s wit game is strong.

People offer themselves to him.

Sometimes he unexpectedly jumps in on conversations.

Apparently he also unabashedly replies to DMs.


Snowden chats with artists.

And robots.

And has opinions about Pokemon.

I think he also enjoys Halloween.

However, no one comes as close as the Internet’s resident parody Information Technology Specialist, @SwiftOnSecurity, who is also on Tumblr.

They seem like a subversive Twitter match made in security heaven. And they make nerd jokes about dancing.


Snowden is also partial to cats.

And as soon as that was made known, the tributes starting pouring in. Cats. Dogs. Rabbits. Turtles. Yes.

Cats “complete” Snowden.

All hail the cat lord.


What to make of all of this?

Despite championing human rights, privacy, and free speech under precarious conditions, Snowden is people too.

And cats. Snowden like cats. #catlord4eva

PS: In the midst of preparing this blogpost, this curious glitch happened. Fun times.

Racial discourse and news coverage of the NDR2015 on Twitter.

Singapore’s National Day Rally 2015, the equivalent of the State of the Union Address in the US, was held on 23 August 2015. It is usually broadcast in two consecutive sessions, one in which the Prime Minster makes a shorter address in Malay & Chinese languages (1845-1930hrs this year), and the other, a longer, more detailed address in English (2000-2200hrs this year). The broadcast can be streamed live on YouTube here.

I followed the official #ndrsg hashtag on Twitter (after a brief breakdown in transmission where the hashtag was pulling up zero results!) during the Malay & Chinese language address between 1845hrs and 1930hrs, tracking Tweet coverage from the two major English language mainstream news networks, The Straits Times (@STcom) and Channel News Asia (@ChannelNewsAsia).

Also, as in most backchannels, the #ndrsg stream usually brings up much vernacular gold. See, for instance, all the laughs from resident creator of viral humour, @SGAG_SG.

Background knowledge: Singapore comprises four major ethnic groups – Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian/Others. Some quick stats from the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) here.

Here are five tongue-in-cheek tl;drs of my personal reading of racial discourse, based on mainstream news Tweet coverage:

  1. hey Malays, don’t worry okay, we’ll help you

2. hey Malays, we are a secular state but Islam is okay if we are a secular state

3. hey Malays, good job on progress (see also poster boys)

4. hey Chinese, good job bro

5. hey Chinese, 华语cool! (see Singapore’s Speak Mandarin Campaign for context)

For coverage from alternative media, see The Online Citizen’s live Tweet stream here, and Mothership.sg’s extremely efficient summary (of the Malay & Chinese language segment) here, here, and here. See also, Tweets from top media Influencers in Singapore, @mrbrown and @miyagi.