Monday 28 July 2008

Tweet Tweet

Today I decided I'm going to play with twitter; so I signed up like so.  I can't really picture myself having the time to twit (or tweet?) every few hours, I signed up for slightly less conventional reasons...

It all stems from how I use this blog.  When I started blogging, I foresaw a channel for my original thoughts, a way for me to share my experience in the industry - real life problems and solutions from the world of running webscale engineering.  It was my opinion and what's worked for me; I didn't want to get into simply posting links to other people's opinion, unless I can substantially build on them, and thus add some value to the idea being discussed.  I wanted there to be some substance, some usefulness and some kind of conclusion to what you read here.

I have stayed true to this vision, but these days I am increasingly coming across content I want to share in a briefer 'check this link out' kind of format.  This of course poses the question; do I dilute the purpose of this blog by posting shorter, less meaningful messages with links or embedded external content or do I find another way (or, that oft-forgotten option we always have, do nothing)?

A tool that seemed fit for purpose to me was micro-blogging.  Small snippets of text pushed out as regularly as you see fit and a whole culture which prohibits verbosity (how will I cope).

So I'm going to play whack-a-link on twitter.  Anytime I see something I like or agree with (but don't want to more formally expand on) I'm going to demonstrate my support for it by posting the link into my feed.

For me this is one of those kind of experimental things - start using the technology and see what value emerges.

While we're talking about twitter I want to give the fail whale an honorable mention for achieving the pinnacle of error message accomplishment - being a popular sight.  No kidding.

Failure joins death and taxes in the hallowed halls of unavoidable inevitability.  I spend a lot of time working out how to detect it, avoid it, and recover from it but sooner or later it gets us all.  This is where architecture stops operations and customer service starts; personally I consider the likes of web server 404's and 500's to be the middle finger of the internet - if you can turn these into disarming, apologetic messages then you'll at least have a chance to keep your customers on your side while you work out your issues.

The fail whale is almost too good at this.  It's grown into some kind of phenomenon of it's own.  People have made fail whale models, you can buy fail whale t-shirts and mugs, and there is even a fan club.  Remember; this is a holding page they show when their site is down!

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