Low tech solution

The low-tech solution is sometimes the best solution. Email can be great, but it cannot send physical objects so real mail transported over ground connects us to the farthest corners of the globe, and when you need to make sure that a document arrives the postal system will hand deliver it and send you a confirmation that the recipient signed for the package. There is nothing wrong with the latest and greatest until it does not come through for the user.

Twitter's Fail Whale

Twitter's Fail Whale created by artist Yiying Lu

It is a shared experience amongst Twitter users: you have a very pithy tweet ready to share with the world, or a link that is dying to go viral. But Twitter has a different idea and when you load your browser window instead of finding a box to compose a tweet, only the infamous Fail Whale appears.

This is not a failure of Twitter, it is a failure of technology, a failure in the mass desire for instantaneous communication. Speed is a goal in communication, information must be transmitted and the faster content gets from sender to recipient the sooner that information can lead to action.


Source: Mashable Comics

In the 1700s cutting edge technology consisted of a natural ink scribbled on paper or parchment, sealed with wax and then sent on horseback to the recipient. Committees of Correspondence used these tactics to organize colonial governments on the American continent during the American Revolution. Mashable, a leading social media news site, parodied the same revolution occurring via Twitter.

It is hard to imagine modern history books listing Jefferson’s unalienable rights as #Life #Liberty #Happiness. (The official text at the The National Archives reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 208 characters)

When the declaration was complete it was printed and sent to newspapers and towns across the newly independent colonies and before the Declaration arrived in England a physical copy had to cross an ocean, hardly expeditious by today’s standards where a blog post is shared across the world the moment the author hits send.

Facing the Fail Whale users have a choice: wait, Twitter will be working again; turn to another form of social media to spread your message; or nervously hit “refresh” until the page properly loads. Most users I suspect will choose to sit and hit “refresh” since their momentary inspiration will vanish or someone else will beat them to sharing the link. But Twitter is sending a message, the system is over capacity, slow down, and remember that paper will not fail to load and another pen is in the drawer.

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