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Sockington (also known as "Sockamillion" or "Socks") is a domestic cat who lives in Waltham, Massachusettsmarker. He has gained large-scale fame via the social networking site Twitter; his owner, Jason Scott, a 39-year-old computer administrator and historian, has been regularly posting from Sockington's Twitter account since late 2007. As of August 2009, Sockington's account has over a million followers, many of which are pet accounts themselves.

Sockington is a grey and white domestic shorthaired cat, and his true age is unknown; he was found as a stray outside a Bostonmarker subway station in 2004.

Twitter fame

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

Between 2007 and January 2009, the Sockington account grew to 10,000 followers. In February of 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, which led British newspaper The Independent to call it "Twitter's latest megastar".In July the number was over three-quarters of a million. In August 2009, that number surpassed 1 million. Scott, however, believes that only a minority of these people are avid followers, a situation he prefers.

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,and the kitten, 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.

Reception

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."Mary Ullmer of The Grand Rapids Press called the tweets by Sockington "hilarious" and described the phenomenon as "Garfield goes 21st century".Tanya Gupta of Examiner.com calls Sockington "the Paris Hilton of tweeting cats".

The future

Currently Sockington's account is recommended to people joining Twitter; Scott has had offers to commercialise Sockington, and is already selling Sockington T-shirts. He may accept one or more offers to offset his personal debts. 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 22nd, 2009, Scott created a "SocksArmy" account on Twitter, to allow for announcing causes and calls for charity. On October 25th, 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).

References

  1. 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
  2. Wes Wolfe, 18 Aug 2009, http://www.wolfereports.com/?p=3522 ; The Animal Center, http://www.theanimalcenter.org/content/tweetie.htm
  3. Lighter side of tech: best cat stories on the internet
  4. microblogging cat has 500,000 followers
  5. SOCKSARMY on Twitter
  6. [1]


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