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Why The Fail Whale Is Here To Stay!

While the Fail Whale comes and goes - sometimes its absence is missed as much as its presence. Ever wonder why the ubiquitous Fail Whale cannot disappear forever? Here's the rationale of some of the top thinkers on the subject.

It took someone to name him. However there still is controversy as to who actually first called him the 'Fail Whale'? While Dave Winer and Robert Scoble seemed to have used the term on May 31, 2008, Nick Quaranto's tweet two days earlier appears to give him official bragging rights, as the original author on record.



According to the founders of Twitter, the Fail Whale serves a necessary purpose. It surfaces from the depths of the Twitterstream to remind us all that Twitter continues to grow, and its growth is a good thing!  If Twitter was perfected at any moment in time -  that would mean that's all we would ever get! If it's still in a state of flux continuing to evolve and enhance its functionality and features, it becomes a become a much better machine for all. In a formal announcement to the Twitterverse on October 21, Twitter's founders capsulized it as such:



Yiying Lu, Designer of Fail WhaleYiying Lu, Designer of Fail WhaleYiying Lu, art director and designer at the University of Technology Sydney would be the last person to want to see the famous Twitter whale plummet to its death beneath the shores of Twitterville. Why? Because she designed the image. Like Mickey Mouse and some of the most recognizable animated characters of our time, Yiying and Fail Whale have made their mark on pop culture. And since the now iconic mammal has reached super-star status, its success has earned Yiying a Shorty, the equivalent of the Oscars awarded to the best short content creators on Twitter.



Joe PanettieriJoe PanettieriAccording to Joe Panettieri, executive director, Nine Lives Media Inc - he, like Captain Ahab in pursuit of Moby Dick would like to hunt down and destroy the Fail Whale for once and for all. In his recent blog, he feels that the Big White and its association with Twitter's down-time is unacceptable."For Twitter, it's as if system outages are part of a corporate culture (and) that needs to change." To that end Panettieri's suggestion is to start charging for the service where "a pay-for-play approach would potentially force spammers off the system"

If Twitter did charge for its services, there would definitely be less tweets weighing down the Dom SagollaDom Sagollamicroblogging platform, hence, keeping the Fail Whale at bay. Dom Sagolla has some insight on the volume of tweets cyber-ventilating the Twitterverse.

Sagolla (@Dom) was actually a member of the 13-member team assigned within Odeo, a failing podcasting startup to create Twitter with Jack Dorsey. However, Dom did not make it to the finish line, as he was laid off just as Team Twitter was ready to leave the station.

However that has not kept Sagolla from remaining friends with Dorsey, Biz Stone, Ev Williams and the gang. In fact he has uniquely made a career as a Twitter outsider, including a soon-to-be published book, "140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form."

When asked in a recent AdAge interview what's up with the Fail Whale's recent recurrences, he responded as such:



While Twitter is growing exponentially month over month, and while Sagolla doesn't substantiate how he derived at the 500 tweets per second, one can only assume that his guesstimate is conservative. However if one one was to do the math based on his calculation, one hour of tweets would equal 1.8 million, which translates to one full day of tweets coming in at 43.2 million and unfathomable 15.8 billion tweets surfacing per year.

Moby Dick was seen as a symbol for many things, including nature and those elements of life that are out of human control. To Ahab, killing the whale became the ultimate goal of his life, and allegorically the ultimate goal of everyman.

Readers could question what exactly Ahab would have done if in fact, if he succeeded in his quest. Having accomplished his ultimate goal - what else would there have been left for him to do? Perhaps the Fail Whale IS our Moby Dick, but differing from the naysayers who'd like to see him disappear altogether, I would like to keep him around to remind us all that he is our common thread. He ties us all to each other. We rely on its appearance so when we complain, argue and write blogs about it, we know that our fellow Twitterati will be able to relate! It represents OUR human condition and as such, our common denominator! Long Live Fail Whale!

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Ron Callari
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