Twitter is a microblogging service that is currently experiencing continual outages. Users are encountering a range of Twitter functionality issues including scalability and stability problems. These outages are provoking debate regarding the future of Twitter as a primary microblogging vehicle for user-driven content.
Twitter engineers are aware of these criticisms regarding software reliability. They report on the status of Twitter through official channels and utilization of novel error messages. One such error message that has developed beyond its intended use is _The Fail Whale_:
The Fail Whale [FW] is an interesting example of Synthetic Presencing. Initially, the presentation of the FW graphic resulted in a dispersal of negative reactions provoked by technical failure; his appearance softened an otherwise irritating user experience. This base intention has now been magnified and reappropriated by a growing Presencing population.
This FW demographic is loosely defined by expressive affection of, and interest in, an emergent persona. They embrace the FW as an example of a seemingly innocuous/juvenile attempt to distract, disarm and amuse a community user-base. This affective redirection – whilst still engaging the target community in a type of awareness-byproduct that results from meme development – allows users to feel connected even when experiencing software dysfunction.
FW has also evolved from a single image selected to cushion error evidence towards a synthaptic construct. FWs basic graphics, simple colour scheme and brief soundbytesque messages blend together to guide followers with a type of cartoon palatability. This synthetic assemblage now has a generating history, a fanclub, multiple representational variations, a theme song, merchandise and associative characterisation. This FW entity-threading has ballooned past Synthetic Presencing while venturing into deliberate Branding territory. Is this FW Branding strangling potential user projections? Does this activity shift Presencing towards economic ratification? When does Presencing morph from an authentic synthetic-driven [re]vision into the corporate?
_Convergence of the Real and the Virtual_: The First Scientific Conference in World of Warcraft was held over the weekend of May 9th to May 11th 2008. It was an attempt to host a definitive synthetic gathering of scientific practitioners through the use of WoW’s Guild system. The conference involved three separate conference sessions and expeditions [or in-world adventuring scenarios]. Each session consisted of a selected team of “panelists” responding to moderated questions via the guildchat interface. The expeditions were an attempt by the organisers to appropriately adapt a traditional conference model to an online format. Other real-world conventions were replicated completely, including a hierarchical separation of Professionals vs the Audience. Text was the only channel utilized publicly; VOIP was solely employed by the moderators as a monitoring tool and was not infrastructurally incorporated to allow audience participation.
The Second Session of the Conference explored the interplay of relationships in synthetic environments and the geophysical world with specific referencing to World of Warcraft. The chatlog listed below is a _textshot_ segment of the session. This _textshot_ incorporates several text streams that were generated at the event, including emotes, whispers, trade chat, general chat, and guild chat.
5/11 02:31:48.796 [Guild] Southerncal: THIS IS MY WAY OF GETTING THINGS STARTED. Hi, all. I’m Dmitri Williams at USC and I’m chairing this session. Please do not type in /g while this is going.
5/11 02:32:18.171 [2. Trade] Oldirtyblu: wts Heavy Clefthoof Leggings 115g
5/11 02:32:21.390 Ronaan’s pet begins eating a Chunk of Boar Meat.
5/11 02:32:21.890 Gontrus dwddd
5/11 02:32:24.296 Hycintha has joined the guild.
5/11 02:32:24.296 Forthewin tells Tiral NO. Not going to happen.
5/11 02:32:27.687 Gonzorina’s pet begins eating a Stormwind Brie.
5/11 02:32:29.593 Noralore’s Lionel is dismissed.
5/11 02:32:29.593 [Guild] Southerncal: We have 4 excellent panelists here today, and I’m eager to get started
5/11 02:32:29.593 [2. Trade] Asmodius: Enchant Boots – Fortitude 19G my mats….
5/11 02:32:29.593 [Raid Leader] Lightsydor: a few of us have joined “/join sciencechat” for a place to chat outside of guild chat during the conference….
5/11 02:32:30.109 Yasura goes “Shhh”
5/11 02:32:30.125 [2. Trade] Asmodius: Enchant Chest – Major Resilience 39G my mats… Nice PVP Enchant………..
5/11 02:32:33.296 [Guild] Southerncal: So: