The 9pm Edict #17

The 9pm EdictTonight we’re doing what every other media outlet does. A look back at the year. The big stories. From earthquakes and cyclones to royal weddings and the descent of TV stars into madness. All through the eyes of the media and, since it’s 2011, through the eyes of fucking Twitter.

In this episode you’ll hear what I think about the Sydney Morning Herald’s review of 2011 and Charlie Brooker and his drama series Black Mirror.

I also refer to Charlie Brooker’s glorious explanation of the grammar of a TV news story. Watch it.

And as I mentioned on Twitter, this episode has been recorded in bursts of one-take recordings at the C Bar, also known as the Chamberlain Hotel in Haymarket, Sydney. The arseholes closed early. I refer to that, and I shall follow it up next episode.

You can listen below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Twitter flattened by China earthquake, indirectly (not)

Hugh MacLeod stylised cartoon of a twittering bird

While I’ve become a heavy user of Twitter, its main problem is that it’s simply failing to cope with its own rapid growth. Today’s Twitter outage is doubtless caused by a sudden rush of interest following mainstream media coverage in the context of China’s earthquake.

‘Twitters’ beat media in reporting China earthquake, said AFP, and the story ran everywhere. I guess there might be two or three dozen people wanting to know what’s happening in China, maybe even more. Twitter fall down go boom.

Now scaling-up a service like Twitter isn’t easy, I guess. However they compound the problem by failing to provide meaningful information about their outages. People use Twitter for moment-by-moment personal communication — and many of them are the global digerati! When something goes wrong, updates need to happen frequently, and need to contain meaningful information. Perhaps you could use that Internet thing we keep hearing about?

Twitter, you face a grave danger. Someone could replicate your service but with better engineering. You must recover from this outage much better than all previous ones.

[Update 11.10am: Twitter says today’s outage doesn’t have an interesting explanation. “Part of our caching service required an unscheduled restart. That means a slow rebuilding of data.” If so, then their systems architecture needs serious work, I reckon.]

[Credit: Cartoon Twitter-bird courtesy of Hugh MacLeod. Like all of Hugh’s cartoons published online, it’s free to use.]