Today's Financial Times ruined my breakfast. There I was this morning, innocently eating my cornflakes and perusing the FT's front page and what globally significant headline did I read? Was it "Iraq implodes" or "Bush resigns" or, better still, "Royal thumps Sarkozy"? No, no, no. The FT headline announced "Mini-blog is the talk of Silicon Valley". And what followed was a stunningly vapid article about an even more vapid Web 2.0 website called Twitter.
First of all, a note to the normally etymologically correct FT: all blogs are mini. Calling Twitter a "mini-blog" is like describing a stunted flea as a "mini-flea". There's nothing intellectually more insignificant than a blog and Twitter is simply a multi platform bulletin board which enables people to express themselves. This is how Twitter defines itself:
A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!
So who is talking up Twitter? Two of Silicon Valley's most illustrious twits were quoted in the article -- Jonathan Schwartz, the blogger-CEO of Sun Microsystems and Ross Mayfield, a Web 2.0 disciple of -- yawn -- community, collaboration & blah blah blah. Schwartz is quoted in all his mangled metaphorical glory (he even abuses the English language like a mini blogger). Here is Schwartz on why Twitter is the new new thing:
"The internet has become so consumerized that social phenonema can take off like lightening"
What does this mean? I wouldn't recognize a "consumerized" internet if it turned up in my cornflakes. And how, exactly, does social phenomena "take off"? One thing is for sure: nothing, no phenomena -- social or otherwise -- "takes off" like lightening. Lightening hits or strikes; airplanes "take off".
But Schwartz isn't laughing at Twitter. "YouTube was funny until it was worth $1.65 billion to someone," He told the FT.
Wrong again. The reverse is true. YouTube only became funny when Google wasted $1.65 billion on it. Now it's hilarious picturing that herd of khaki clad, Stanford trained lawyers stampeding around the Googleplex figuring out how to protect a "business" made up mainly of other people's stolen goods.
Mayfield rivals Schwartz in his profundity:
This is the first application that people have got excited about since Flickr came out."
What does that say about Silicon Valley? Flickr came out in 2005 -- so, in the last two years, the only thing that has "excited" Silicon Valley twits like Mayfield is a "global community" which allows friends and strangers to tell each other what they are doing. This doesn't excite me. When I want to tell someone what I'm doing, I either tell them in person, call them on the telephone or send them an email.
Earth to Silicon Valley: what are you doing?