April 06, 2009

All things Twittered

As Twitter continues it's drive to dominance it's stress points begin to show and odd things begin to pop up, mainly as a result of it's near-stratospheric popularity.

There has recently been a suicide attempt, which popped up on Demi Moore's Twitter page, of all places. While Moore and husband Ashton Kutcher were justifiably concerned, some other fast-acting Twitterers saved the day and called 911. The high-visibility of Moore's page no doubt gave the issue higher visibility than it otherwise would have. One can't help but wonder if posting something like this to Twitter is the modern-day equivalent of jumping from the highest central point in the town, or doing some other nasty thing in the town square, just so you'll be noticed. Has Twitter become one of the highest-profile places on the internet, and thus the best place to be seen?

Speaking of unusual uses of Twitter, there's a volcano that posts it's own tweets. Yep, Mount Redoubt in Alaska is set up so any unusual activities sets off an automatic tweet. Interested parties can subscribe to the posts (just like any other Twitter account) and be instantly notified that something very bad may be happening to the volcano. A pretty neat idea, actually. How much longer until we get our cars to tweet ("I'm low on air pressure", "I need more horsepower")?

Stephen Colbert's gotten into the fun, Twittering away while on his show (he called it "Twatting" when speaking to the Today show's Meredith Vieira), at the same time as interviewing Twitter's founder, Biz Stone. During the interview, Colbert compared Twitter to the old internet crash and burn sensation, Pets.com. Ouch. Let's hope Twitter does better than that. There was a rumored sale of Twitter to Google, but although there were some talks, Twitter's at the moment saying no dice.

Finally, amidst all the Twitter fun and success stories, there's also signs of it's own shortcomings. The site has always been prone to failures, since the infrastructure wasn't truly built to withstand the amount of users it has today; it's growth has just been too fast for the service to keep up. And with site outages comes grumbling, and some say there's a bit of a Twitter backlash going on. Some blame Shaquile O'Neal, one of the highest-profile Twitters around. Others just make mocking videos, which are sarcastic and tongue in cheek, but have more than a shred of truth.

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