Ashton Kutcher beat out CNN to create the largest to-date Twitter following of 1 million subscribers. That means at least 1 million people actually care what Ashton Kutcher is doing at any moment.
The battle finished at 2:13 this morning with a victory from Kutcher. This means that the 1 millionth follower will be featured in The Sims 3 and receive a copy of every game produced by Electronic Arts in 2009. Also, Kutcher will donate money to buy 10,000 anti-mosquito bed nets for African families to help fight the spread of malaria on that continent. CNN stopped reporting news for a few seconds and congratulated Kutcher on its feed.
The race to 1 million has unearthed a variety of opinions. TechCruch, sounding a bit like cranky old George Will, decided Twitter should do away with its follower count, claiming that Twitter has turned into a popularity contest and is ruining the site’s purpose: communication. (But, hello — it’s always been about popularity on the Internet.) Mobility Today posits that Twitter has become too mainstream, and waxes nostalgic about the glory days when it was a playground for nerds.
Some believe this is the Death of Twitter — the moment when the site and its philosophy is wrested from the grasp of its creators and sacrificed to our celebrity gods. Others, such as the Huffington Post, see Kutcher’s victory as changing the face of media and bringing a geeky democracy to the Internet. I feel Kutcher’s win is a queasy indication of our misguided national attention, but an interesting advancement in social media, worthy of consideration.
But wait — Kutcher may not have the biggest posse for long. Oprah has joined the Twitter fray and will devote today’s show to the microblogging phenomenon. Expect to see a lot of the Fail Whale and a whole helluva lot of soccer moms boarding the Twitter train — a train that used to be just for nerds.