Today, the University of Oregon got a firsthand look at the networking power of Twitter. Since its creation in 2006, the online social networking site has been used to inform the masses about a variety of dramatic happenings around the world — most recently, Iranians protesting the recent presidential elections. In April, Twitter was used to rally 10,000 young Moldovans to protest against the country’s communist leadership. Today however, in a slightly less historic although undeniably dramatic event, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres utilized twitter to make her mark at the UO.
At about four thirty p.m. yesterday Ellen sent out a tweet targeted at UO students, “Attention Oregon Ducks: ‘Quack. Quack. Quack-quack quack.’ I‘ll translate: Start following my tweets now, you’ll be glad you did.” This immediately started a buzz on campus on whether Ellen would be on campus and what surprises she might have in store.
By two p.m. today the buzz intensified when she tweeted again, informing her followers, “Do I have a treat for you? Hail, yes. Grab an umbrella and keep watching my tweets.” Students and community members alike began to flock around the makeshift tent set up by the show’s camera crew, all eagerly awaiting the upcoming tweet.
When asked what the spectators might be able to expect, Aaron Pinkston, Field Associate Producer for the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” kept quiet but said that it would be, “just like Berkeley.” Earlier this week, Ellen, during a live feed from Berkeley’s campus to her show, sent students on a special mission to be the first 10 people to whisper “muffin” to Pinkston.
Within an hour of her first tweet today, about 70 students had gathered outside the EMU braving the torrential downpour with hopes of winning a prize and ultimately being on TV. Kerry, a UO student who prides herself on being a “big Ellen fan,” said she and her friends heard about the event through Twitter.
While the first people in the crowd may have originally heard about the excitement through the tweet grapevine, other UO students who had learned about it through friends, Facebook, and texting soon joined them. By 3:30 pm, the sun broke through and the crowd quickly increased to around 150 people, some clueless as to the reason for the gathering. One student held a cardboard sign that read, “Ellen forget Portia, be my baby mama. Love, Matt.”
About 15 minutes later Pinkston announced to the crowd that Ellen would be tweeting within 10 minutes. And sure enough, about 10 minutes later, all hell broke loose, and those who received the tweets directly to their cell phones raced out of the EMU amphitheater with instructions to retrieve a bar of soap and bring it back to Pinkston. Those who were not so technologically inclined and did not receive a tweet were left standing in the dust looking dazed.
Within 10 minutes, 10 students returned with the coveted item. A live feed was connected to Ellen’s show being taped at the time and she told the winners what they had won: a new Samsung phone with a free year of service. They were then given their second task… to recreate a posed photo of two young boys dressed in ridiculous ‘80s plaid pants kneeling in front of a tree and to take a picture of it on their new phones and send it to Ellen. She informed the contestants that it did not have to be exact but that they should at least “get the matching outfits and hair.” According to Ellen, the winner “who recreates the picture the best, not the first but the best,” would win a trip for two to her show and a thousand dollars in spending money.
Needless to say, with a prize like that the contestants raced off to take their pictures. It is rumored that the show will air tomorrow with the results.