Could Twitter Have Worked in 1999?

For many years the Internet has brought us ideas and services that we wish we had thought of first. ?Most technologists wish they could go back in time and hit big with online auctions, classifieds, blogging software, and social networking. ?Microblogging (ie. Twitter) is the latest and greatest of these facepalming ideas because it’s so damn simple.


But would Twitter have worked ten years ago?

The two components to this question are the technical feasibility and user feasibility. ?Were the computers fast enough for a worldwide application handling millions of messages per day in real time? ?Were people ready for a public, messy communication tool?

Did we have the technology for Twitter in 1999? ?The fail whales of the past few years indicate we may not have had equipment and system software powerful enough for a monster like Twitter. ?Were there any applications of that size in 1999?

To me, the only comparable 20th century, many-to-many application was eBay. ?The web and the Internet ?itself were enormous systems handling many-to-many relationships, but its architecture was distributed world wide to share the load.

What did the Internet look like? ?Google had just arrived, Internet Explorer had achieved dominant market share, eBay seemed like the best Internet business, blogs were in their infancy, message boards and usenet were extremely popular, and mainstream communication was dominated by email and instant messaging. ?So much time and effort went into making sure messaging was private and secure, I think it would have been a big stretch to think people would have been ok with mostly public messaging. ?In fact, I think the only way public messaging could have caught on was through the emergent behavior we saw on friendster?testimonials?and myspace wall posts, which were the precursors to twitter. ? Message boards were obviously public in 1999, but we hadn’t yet grown tired of the trolls, spammers, flamers, creationists, and over-reacting moderators. ?For many of us Twitter reclaimed that energy and spirit the web had before these problems got unbearable.

This is what my site looked like in 1999.  Ouch.
This is what my site looked like in 1999. Ouch.

So in my opinion, we may or may not have been technically ready for Twitter, but the users definitely weren’t ready. ?We needed to be shown over and over again that email, chat, ?and message boards all kind of sucked once they got to a certain size. ?Twitter made it truly mass communication?usable?again and it works despite its negatives, but only because we know the alternatives are worse.

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Owen Ryker Garvey

I’m a dad. Again!

Owen Ryker Garvey was born on September 18th, 2009 at 2:39PM. He was 7lbs, 12oz, 20″ long, and a great addition to our family.

Isn't he cute?
Isn't he cute?

He’s named after a character in the John Irving novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany. It’s Jeanne’s favorite book and I liked it a lot as well. I definitely liked the name. We sweated the middle name for months and finally settled on Ryker. Some other candidates were Issac and Elias. I hope he likes it!

Naming someone is freaking hard. My wife says I overthink it, but sometimes I feel like giving someone a name is like letting someone else pick our your tattoo. He’s the one who has to live with it for the rest of his life. What’s in a name? Sure you can say that, but I think we all have been influenced by someone’s interesting, odd, or boring name.

Jeanne and Owen are both doing great and we’re settling in at home. So far Sasha has been great with him. I’m headed back to work tomorrow.

People always say the day their kids are born is the greatest day of their lives. I think they are insane or kidding themselves. Even if everything goes 100% well, it’s an immensely stressful and uncomfortable day. For me the best day is when we’re all home and everyone is doing great. Like today.

HOWTO: Give a Best Man Toast

So your brother / best friend / college buddy asked you to be his best man and you’ve planned the bachelor party, got measured for your tux, held on to the rings, and watched the groom get married.

Now it’s your turn to give the toast.

It’s by far the most nerve racking part of being the best man, so don’t screw it up! I’m not the best speaker in the world, but I’ve been a best man three times and have come up with three rules to follow.

1. Make fun of the groom: Don’t worry too much about your jokes about the groom. You will never have a more receptive audience in your life. They are well on their way to getting drunk at this point and want to laugh. Leave the raunchy stories for the bachelor party and stick to making fun of the groom for his hobbies or how much of a dork he was in high school.

2. Flatter the bride: After you’ve made fun of the groom, move on to the bride and talk about how beautiful/smart/amazing she is. Don’t be tempted to make fun of her! Leave that to the maid of honor.

3. Keep it Short: This is where most of the speeches I’ve seen falter. It starts out great and everyone is enamored with what you’re saying, but by the 12th minute and the 4th slide on the powerpoint, 30% of the people have slipped away to the bar, bathroom, or outside to smoke. Leave them wanting more and if you keep it under 3 minutes you should be able to memorize it and really look like a pro. Don’t forget to actually raise your glass and make it a toast.

Here’s the text from my 3rd best man speech.