Sockington

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Press photo of Sockington.

Sockington (also known as "Sockamillion" or "Socks") is a domestic cat who lives in Waltham, Massachusetts. He has gained large-scale fame via the social networking site Twitter; his co-owner, Jason Scott, an archivist and Internet historian, has been regularly posting from Sockington's Twitter account since late 2007.[1] As of May 2010, Sockington's account has over 1.5 million followers, many of which are pet accounts themselves.[1][2]

Sockington is a grey and white domestic shorthaired cat, and his age is eight years old; he was found as a stray outside a Boston subway station in 2004.

Twitter fame[edit]

The posts, or "tweets", are written by Scott from the perspective of Sockington,[1] typical posts run along the lines of:

stalk stalk stalk AND WHAT HAVE WE HERE deadly pillow enemy BANZAIIIIIIIII CRASH oh no busted PILLOW ATTACKED FIRST run run run[3]

the posts are written a few at a time using a shell script and slowly fed into Twitter at short intervals[4]

Between 2007 and January 2009, the Sockington account grew to 10,000 followers. In February 2009, the Sockington account was added to the "recommended feeds" list of Twitter, making it one of the accounts suggested to all new users who joined. This caused a rapid expansion of the account at the rate of between 500-5,000 new followers a day. By May 2009 the account had half a million followers,[3] which led British newspaper The Independent to call him "Twitter's latest megastar".[5] In July the number was over three-quarters of a million.[6] In August 2009, that number surpassed 1 million. Scott believes that only a minority of these people are avid followers, a situation he prefers.[citation needed] As of May 2010, Sockington has over 1.5 million watchers, making him the most popular nonhuman tweeter, being the 98th most popular Twitter feed.[7]

Sockington has two feline companions whose Twitter voices are also provided by Jason Scott: the ginger Pennycat (aka Pennsylvania) whose posts tend to reflect ironically on Sockington and his fame,[8] and the other, Tweetie, a rescue cat who looks enough like Sockington to be nicknamed his "Sockelganger" (a pun on doppelgänger). Tweetie's tale of rescue has effectively brought attention to the plight of feral cats and provided an opportunity for fund-raising for The Animal Center in Newtown, Connecticut (USA), the shelter that saved him.[9]

Reception[edit]

Sockington

The MSNBC news site holds Sockington's posts to be a parody of Twitter's "online time-wasters", while Scott himself believes the account shows up the low possibility of financial profit from Twitter: "Everybody wants this social media bubble. They want something where we're all chattering so much that we all get rich. This cat makes everybody look like fools because he's got hundreds of thousands of followers. And he doesn't tend to follow anyone but other animals."[1] Mary Ullmer of The Grand Rapids Press called the tweets by Sockington "hilarious" and described the phenomenon as "Garfield goes 21st century".[10]

The future[edit]

Sockington's account has been recommended to people joining Twitter in the "Suggested User List." Scott has had offers to commercialize Sockington, and is already selling Sockington T-shirts. He may accept one or more offers to offset his personal debts.[11] In a May 2009 interview, Scott emphasised the deliberate light-heartedness of the Sockington updates and pages. "People have come asking Socks to endorse products or speak about causes...what does a cat have to do with the war in Darfur?" On June 22, 2009, Scott created a "SocksArmy" account on Twitter, to allow for announcing causes and calls for charity.[12] On October 25, 2009, Jason Scott announced Sockington would not be endorsing products or "selling out" (defined as being paid to change the nature of Sockington; he still indicated plans for a Sockington book and Sockington T-shirts are sold).[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Twitter followers paw over feline". TODAY. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  2. ^ "Twitter forcing a strategy switch for businesses". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  3. ^ a b Martin, Charlotte (2009-05-13). "Twitter cat has 500k fans". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  4. ^ "Twitter's Cat Mega Star". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  5. ^ "Twitter's latest megastar is a cat". London: The Independent. 22 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  6. ^ "Sockington is Twitter's Most Popular Cat". Paw Nation. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  7. ^ Baker, Billy (2010-02-26). "He’s clawed his way to Twitter fame". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  8. ^ Thane Burnett, Twitter has gone to the cats, 14 May 2009. http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/world/2009/05/14/9460901.html ; Wes Wolfe, 18 Aug 2009, http://www.wolfereports.com/?p=3522 ; Anshuman Joshi, From Rags to Rugs: The Cool Sockington Wa, Khaleej Times Online, 21 May 2009, http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2009/May/theuae_May530.xml&section=theuae
  9. ^ Wes Wolfe, 18 Aug 2009, http://www.wolfereports.com/?p=3522 ; The Animal Center, http://www.theanimalcenter.org/content/tweetie.htm
  10. ^ Ullmer, Mary (May 25, 2009). "Unleashed: Sockington the cat takes on Twitter, with far more success than this human blogger". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  11. ^ microblogging cat has 500,000 followers
  12. ^ SOCKSARMY on Twitter
  13. ^ Statement on Sockington Selling Out

External links[edit]