What #amazonfail says about Twitter

Paul Raven @ 16-04-2009

amazonfail logoTwitter has definitely made the transition from inexplicable geek tool to mass-media buzz phenomenon (as indicated by the plethora of recent posts about it, both here and elsewhere).

The rapidity of Twitter’s rise (and, arguably, its seeming innocuousness) has allowed it to get the jump on organisations unprepared for its power, speed and influence – as demonstrated by the #Amazonfail debacle over the easter weekend.

Jeremiah Tolbert takes a look at #amazonfail, and determines that Twitter is almost the ideal medium for that sort of emergent protest, as well as a warning to organisations big and small that they need to learn to respond to criticism on microblogging networks as quickly as possible:

In the information void that existed on the weekend, many intentions were invented to explain. Right-wingers had collaborated to manipulate the system via tags. Amazon had capitulated to right-wingers and dropped the titles. It was a programming error. A massive conspiracy of internet pranksters manufactured it so that they could feed on the outraged tears of twitter users. And so on.

Much like Nature abhors a vaccum, the internet ahbors an absence of information.

Amazon’s lack of immediate response allowed the controversy to build to unprecedented levels. Rarely have I seen the internet move in one angry direction so effectively. It never would have moved this quickly in the time before Twitter. Email, texts, none of them had the perfect assembly of features and usability that Twitter does.

Much as we were discussing with respect to the Moldovan Twitter revolution, there’s no implicit morality in this system; it gets used to express the hopes, prejudices and fears of its users. Spiraltwist at grinding.be makes the point:

Forget the bot networks. Forget the viruses. All you need is a massive follower list (or enough people to cross pollinate their twitter streams with your message) and people clicking to take down or disrupt websites for a bit. Click. Click. Click.

There must be dozens of technothriller authors across the planet chewing their pencils in frustration at having been pipped to the post by reality on a particularly pertinent Zeitgest plot device…

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One Response to “What #amazonfail says about Twitter”

  1. Jetse says:

    I agree, but think things go even deeper than that: http://is.gd/sYxz . It’s a matter of a double-edged sword, and people learning to wield it.