Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Anyone who follows this blog knows that I’m still ambivalent about the business benefits of Twitter. I cannot help but be amazed at the sheer number of Twitter applications there are out there. One that I ran across recently, Twittervision, actually shows you a map of the world and overlays tweets like so:

It is a strangely mesmerizing display that provides no real benefit apart from the sheer fascination of watching these tweets display over time. It sort of reminds you of going to a party where the sheer number of people talking creates such a din that you have to speak louder, which conversely increases the din further.

This all kind of sounded familiar to me somehow but I just couldn’t remember where from. That is until I remembered this passage from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:
“It is worth repeating at this point the theories that Ford had come up with, on his first encounter with human beings, to account for their peculiar habit of continually stating and restating the very, very obvious, as in “It’s a nice day,” or “You’re very tall” or “So this is it, we’re all going to die.”
His first theory was that if human beings didn’t keep exercising their lips, their mouths probably seize up.
After a few months of observation he had come up with a second theory, which was this - “If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, their brains start working.”
In fact, this second theory is more literally true of the Belcebron people of Kakrafoon.
The Belcebron people used to cause great resentment and insecurity amoungst neighbouring races by being one of the most enlightened, accomplished and above all quiet civilizations in the Galaxy.
As a punishment for this behaviour, which was held to be offensively self righteous and provocative, a Galactic Tribunal inflicted on them that most cruel of all social diseases, telepathy.
Consequently, in order to prevent themselves broadcasting every slightest thought that crossed their minds to anyone within a five miles radius, they now had to talk very loudly and continuously about the weather, their little aches and pains, the match this afternoon and what a noisy place Kakrafoon had suddenly become.”
Maybe in his infinite wisdom and far-sightedness, Douglas Adam foresaw the development of
Twitter as something akin to the punishment inflected on the Belcebron people of Kakrafoon. There must be some reason why people spend so much time broadcasting such inane parts of their lives. So far, I can only conclude that Twitter has been inflicted on mankind by a Galactic Tribunal as punishment for something.

Clearly, I must have missed the court notice in the Galactic Herald so I’ll never know why for sure. Perhaps the only thing to do perhaps to avoid
Twitter-mania is to act like a dolphin and say “So long and thanks for all the fish”!