By Daniela Capistrano
Coldplay, Wale, the Roots and other artists may like Twitter, but none of them liked it enough to attend the first-ever Twitter awards ceremony. The aptly named Shorty Awards, a riff on the mini-blogs' 140-characters-or-less restriction, took place at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday evening.
Nope, there were only two tweet-loving famous musicians passionate enough about Twitter to fly across the country and meet their fans: '80s rap icon MC Hammer (Twitter.com/MCHammer) and AFI bassist Hunter Burgan (Twitter.com/TranquilMammoth).
The Shorty Awards were founded by Sawhorse Media to honor the best producers of short content on Twitter in 2008. The Twitter community voted on their favorite users in 26 categories and the winners were given travel grants to attend, thanks in part to the Knight Foundation. CNN's twitter loving Rick Sanchez (Twitter.com/ricksanchezcnn) hosted the event and was heard later declaring, "The smartest people I have found in any community are the people I've found on Twitter."
As the Twitterati pillaged the wine and cheese while sending updates that displayed on a giant screen, Hammer and Burgan good-naturedly posed for photos with fans. Burgan was there to accept his Shorty Award in the Music category. Hammer was there as a presenter.
Although a seemingly unlikely pair, these artists share a common ground through Twitter. Both artists said they use the platform to engage with their fans and genuinely appreciate all the feedback they receive.
For Hammer, a tech-savvy social entrepreneur with his own dance community Web site and newly released iPhone app, Twitter is merely one example of how the Web continues to change the media landscape.
"I'm a big fan of the platform," said Hammer. "There's definitely a direct advantage to being on Twitter."
Hammer and Burgan recognize the appeal of having direct contact with artists, and they use Twitter to share information about anything ranging from interests and tastes to updates from the studio. (AFI are currently working on their eighth album, and Hammer has a new television series.)
As the ceremony drew to a close, the once-packed Galapagos began to thin out, but the Twittersphere was full of Shorty Awards-tagged updates late into the night.
Hammer tweeted, "@chuckcreekmur The BK was hot ! I always love the culture of the BK...this is the home of some of the greatest MCs ever. I recognize that."
"I got a few pictures with @mchammer," Burgan wrote. "He was really nice and even said he'd download some @AFI albums when he got home. 2 legit."