“Don’t Click”, Quickly

263 identical tweets per minute – estimating from Twitter Search results, that’s how fast this little hack is spreading as I write this post. It’s almost enough to make me stop writing it – after all, with such a large scale infestation, every major “Web 2.0″ outfit is already rushing to cover it. Oh, they already did. Damn, that’s fast.

…and Twitter already fixed the vulnerability as I was typing the next paragraph. Impressive.

…and ten thousand people already tweeted explanations of how it works. Oh WTF :)

Lets do something else, then. Perhaps a paranoid rant about technological progress and online communities. Yes, that sounds good and relevant.

The Speed Of Web

It's over [memenum]!
Image credit : xxxtoff

The Web is fast. It’s fucking realtime, as some people I don’t know would say. And this incident made me feel like a bright-eyed neo-luddite, dreaming about the Technological Singularity in 2045 and not noticing the cyber-elephant prancing around the room right now. Oh, I heard the footsteps, and I saw the people pointing and laughing/screaming. But I didn’t care because it wasn’t my room being trashed by an elephant.

The trick is being involved. It’s easy to discount the buzz about social-this-or-that and semantic-something-or-other as over-sensationalized reporting. After all, it rarely affects me (us?) on a personal level. The Twitter hack wasn’t all that significant in itself – the “virus” was actually harmless and, as I mentioned above, the security hole got patched quickly. However, this time I was “there”, following the Twitter Search feed and about to blog about it. And for the first time I felt the speed and the scale of what was happening.

It was scary and amazing. But mostly scary.

Meet the borg, strike a chord

All will be revealed
Image credit : Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Of course, the possibility of malware spreading like wildfire is a bit disconcerting, but that’s not my main concern. We have dealt with that before. Also, being forced to compete against all the programmers/bloggers in the world is tiresome, but one can still find a few niches that aren’t oversaturated. Living in a tribe that far exceeds the Dunbar’s number might cause a mild neurosis, but whatever :P

I’m actually scared of irrelevance. The Web community is amazingly fast right now, but it has a relatively small impact on the “real” world. You can miss a big online event and be no worse for it (usually). Even if you’re very active online you can usually just get up the next day and catch up on the now-old news in your RSS reader. However, as the online world gets ever faster and more pervasive, not following the global conversation might cause problems.

Imagine you’re at a party in the Global Village, chatting with some people or whatever. You go get a drink, come back, and ask one of your friends what time it is. Instead of answering, he hands you a hamburger. You ask him to explain the joke, but your words turn into rusty spoons and are quickly carted away by a translucent monkey. You’ve lost the thread of conversation and your knowledge and goals are not relevant anymore.

That’s probably what the Singularity will really be like :)

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