Saturday, August 15, 2009

Infinite Monkey Theorem (or "What's the Deal with Twitter, Anyway?")

When it comes to technology these days it isn't just "have and have nots," there are also "do and do nots." When I mention something like Twitter the "do nots" usually ask, "What's the deal with Twitter, anyway?" They confide that they can't figure out what it is for or how it works or why anyone would want spend time on it anyway. This innocent and earnest confusion on their part has made me think more deeply about something that was previously just entertainment.

My conclusion is that Twitter is basically an enormous test of the Infinite Monkey Theorem. I mean, that's not what we each individually THINK we are doing. We are mostly amusing ourselves by posting stray thoughts and becoming a voyeur of other's stray thoughts. But with approximately six million monkeys pounding away at the keyboards - intersecting, overlapping, scaffolding, and weaving - we will sooner or later come up with the 21st century answer to Shakespeare. The question is whether we will recognize it when it happens. Because although we've built a machine of almost infinite potential, each tweeter has a very finite perspective.

You define your Twitter experience based on who you choose to "follow." Mine is defined by comedians, geeks, writers, and liberals. Basically I want to chuckle and see the thoughts of people who agree with me. It's like extending my friendship circle using my Blackberry and recent tweets often drop into my real life conversations. So although Jim Gaffigan didn't know it, he might as well have been standing in the coffee shop with us on Friday when he commented, "Biting into a chocolate chip cookie and realizing it's an oatmeal raisin cookie is kind of like finding out she's a dude."

Now that I'm done with this exploration of the tweetdom I'm going to tweet the link, which will display in the Twitter feed on my blog, thus creating a perfect circle and swallowing the universe. Sorry about that. For more info on Twitter, try checking out the Wiki entry.

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