Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Im In Ur Budgets, Wasting Ur Moneys (Twitter Downtime Tantrum)

The (in)famous Twitter lolcats were funny, cheap, and cool.

This is condescending - "thanks for noticing"? oh, you're so welcome - and somebody paid good money to employ an artist to draw it. The artist obviously had talent, and obviously didn't invest a whole lot of passion.

It's also very intellectually sloppy to say that "something is technically wrong" when you mean "something technical went wrong." "Something is technically wrong" implies that it isn't really wrong. But obviously, if the site is down, something really is wrong. Because the site's supposed to be up. If the site's supposed to work, and it doesn't work, that's not a mere technicality. That's actually kinda the nub and gist of the whole brouhaha.

Sometimes "upgrading" to a more professional demeanor isn't really an upgrade at all. They should have just kept the lolcats.

Who doesn't love a good lolcat?

Paul Graham (who finally delivered Arc yesterday) once gave a great speech on "What Business Can Learn From Open Source," and said that the most painful lesson business can learn from open source is that people who program in their pajamas while making fart jokes on the Internet outperform the world's top technology companies just about every single time.

The standard response to an influx of venture capital is to hire graphic designers to create inferior, tiresome, and anonymous replacements to funny, cheap, and engaging graphics. But just because everybody's doing it doesn't mean you have to do it. If I recall Twitter's history accurately, the venture capitalists came to them. If they come to you, it means you get to decide what to do with the money.

Again, going back to Paul Graham, he wrote a great essay explaining that the major goal of technology acquisitions is hiring the people who produced the technology; purchasing a company is really just a socially acceptable way of handing over a truly gigantic signing bonus. So if somebody puts money in Twitter, who says Twitter can only do Twitter? If you can make a kickass product in a very short span of time, and somebody's just given you a metric ton of legal tender, don't hand that money over to some bored graphic designer so they can buy marijuana and expensive shoes they'll have forgotten in a year. Do something interesting with it.

Don't you know the rule? The rule is, if you're bored then you're boring. Don't throw away money making your site less interesting. Make another cool product we'll also use every day.