Twitter: New Whipping Boy

April 18, 2009

I never watched the whipping scenes in pirate movies when I was a kid in central Illinois. The whole pirate shtick (????) scared me. Pirate life looked awful. Small ships. Scurvy. Rats. I saw a cat-o’-nine tails in a museum when I was in college and I shuddered. The nine tails referred to what looked like leather strips with metal tips or claws. The idea of whipping is bad. Whipping with nine claws buries the need on the badness scale. Here’s what one of these corrective devices used by the British Royal Navy in the 17th century looked like.


Poor Twitter, the steroid charged child of SMS, is now a whipping boy and the pundits and mavens are using the cat-o’-nine tails to make their point. Coverage of Twitter has morphed from “What use is it anyway?” to “Twitter is evil.” The Tyra Banks’s incident in New York allegedly made use of models less than 5 feet seven inches Tweets. For more information on this remarkable tea party or flash mob, click here.

I loved the headline “Twitter Sucks” in the New York Observer where nothing is “sacred but the truth”. You must read the story here. In a nutshell, Twitter is over exposed. The “trough of disillusionment” is that Twitter is lots of short messages. Most of the messages are banal. But some of them contain surprisingly useful information. Aggregated, the Twitter stream can make interesting ideas assume a form that can be prodded and examined.

Should Twitter be whipped with a cat-o’-nine tails. Sure. That’s the way the world today works. But my view is that Twitter is an example of how real time messaging broadcast to others on the network can trigger unanticipated opportunities or challenges. Twitter may suck. Twitter may be trivial. But one thing is clear. Twitter is going to spawn quite a few real time search innovations. Twitter, like PointCast, may end up the big loser in a month or a year, who knows? But push technology did not die with PointCast and BackWeb. Twitter is an example of a service that neither telcos nor the likes of Google were able to put in a box and control.

Stephen Arnold, April 18, 2009


4 Responses to “Twitter: New Whipping Boy”

  1. Dave Hucker on April 18th, 2009 5:53 pm


    as a term “Twitter” will now join the ranks of the overused terms such as Craigslist, ‘Local Search’ and the like.

    I don’t see much value in Twittering from a business standpoint, other thank the fact that they’re easily made backlinks to a website (for SEO purposes), but they don’t carry much weight as they’re nofollow.

    …or maybe I just am experiencing “Tweet-Envy” 🙂

  2. Stephen E. Arnold on April 18th, 2009 8:18 pm

    Dave Hucker,

    Try to think like an intelligence agent. Ask yourself, “How can I tap real time data flows?” Thought experiments cost little and may be intellectually stimulating. On the other hand, maybe not.

    Stephen (the Dude) Arnold, April 18, 2009

  3. » Pandia Search News Wrap-up April 19 on April 19th, 2009 7:14 am

    […] Twitter: New Whipping Boy […]

  4. Pandia Search News Wrap-up April 19 | Wiadomo?ci seo on April 19th, 2009 8:01 am

    […] Twitter: New Whipping Boy […]

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