Tag Archives: Twitter

Leaving Footprints

If you have not yet begun to Tweet, doing so may be your one remaining shot at immortality. If you don’t mind being immortal in a crowd.

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 7.46.54 PM

It turns out all the tweets ever tweeted will be archived by the Library of Congress. One blogger connected with the New York Times said “the library has attached itself to the firehose.”

An open, gushing firehose running into a library? That doesn’t end well.

Best of luck to the Librarians of Congress as they address the monumental task of keeping up with the flow, and Godspeed to the historians of the future who will wade into this vast ocean of data to locate a meaningful pebble. By one estimate, the library has already absorbed over 130 billion tweets.

On the plus side of that equation, I now feel a little better about the condition of my basement.

People are already worried that the things they say and do online will inadvertently be remembered forever. And people do post surprisingly revealing things in places where anybody else can see them. Whenever I stumble across an embarrassingly personal photo or an unusually thorough and detailed confession, I say to myself “Here’s someone who has decided they do not want to be anybody’s first grade teacher. Ever.”

And there are plenty who fit that description.

And now to give such people a second chance at teaching the littlest tykes, there comes a web service called “Snapchat“. Material posted using this thing is literally designed to disappear after a short time in existence. You can share your less-than-flattering I-just-out-of-bed picture to all your friends confident that, like the taped instructions delivered in every episode of “Mission Impossible,” it will self-destruct.

But can something that promises to leave without a trace really be counted on to vanish? Does anything in the digital world go away? I can’t help noticing that all those smoking Mission Impossible recorders, supposedly gone to the great smoldering beyond, are still around for your viewing pleasure, on Youtube.

What item of yours is gone forever now, and happily so?

Re-writing History

Protesters challenging entrenched governments in Tunisia and Egypt gained early momentum thanks to social media. That Facebook and Twitter could play such a role in modern insurrections was unimagined by the founders of these social websites, and the whole notion of a website would be incomprehensible to Our Founding Fathers.

Where current events will lead is unclear, but if you transport these latest devices back 236 years, it’s not hard to imagine that earlier revolutions might have started in the same way.

Friend me, children, and you shall hear
Of the Twitterstream of Paul Revere.
In April of 1775
Hardly a man is now alive
who remembers the web was already here.

He said to his friend, “When the Brits intrude,
If by land or sea from the town they lurch,
Send a message to me from your iPhone, dude
I’ve got coverage up by the old North Church.

One tweet if by land and two tweets if by sea
And I on the opposite shore will be
Already connected to Facebook and Twitter
I’ll rally each farmer and rancher and knitter.
Assuming they all can arrange for a sitter.

Later, impatient and holding his cell,
All jumpy from Starbucks and eager as hell
on the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he’s tested his ringtone’s knell
Now five bars, his reception clear.
Checked his battery. It was charged.
His pounding heart was twice enlarged.

He searched for hashtags to hasten speed
#British, #man-o-war, #redcoats and #steed
The network was up, but was it corrupted?
Then quickly to life the device erupted.
“Brits go 4 #man-o-war, coming by sea
Revolution is here, P. Revere OMG!”
He copied this message, not missing a beat.
Proceeded it with an “RT” for “re-tweet”
And then closed up the phone. Revolution complete.

You know the rest. It was blogged. It was posted.
The Redcoats, defeated, were routed and toasted.
For social connections can work with a power
as potent as lanterns hung in a church tower.
A people, aggrieved, can now push for redress
in one hundred forty quick keystrokes or less.

Longfellow’s poem (which actually does include the word “twitter”), is as famous today for it’s inaccuracies as its narrative – evidence that a memorable simplicity must eventually succumb to a more complex truth.

Ever been part of an uprising?