Archive for April, 2009

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Fail Whale Off the Starboard Bow, Matey: Exponential Growth Overloads Twitter

April 4, 2009

Yiying Lus Fail Whale Sighted on TwitterAhoy, matey, Fail Whale off the starboard bow!

According to a March 31, 2009 article on CNN.com, Twitter is growing so fast that the system can’t seem to keep up with the increasing demand.

The result: more sightings of the “Fail Whale” — a whimsical drawing of a white whale being lifted up by small orange birds by artist Yiying Lu – that appears whenever Twitter is over capacity.

According to Nielsen NetView Twitter’s growth has been nothing short of astonishing: Unique visitor traffic jumped 1,374% between February 2008 and February 2009 — an exponential leap to 7 million users from 475,000.

Compare that with Facebook’s 228% increase to 65.7 million users during the same period of time.

The Fail Whale itself is a cultural phenomenon. The Fail Whale’s Twitter account currently has more than 2,772 followers. In addition, the CNN article adds that a Facebook group dedicated to the whale has more than 4,400 members.

Like Twitter, which has spawned the development of dozens of third party applications, the Fail Whale has also created a cottage industry of merchandise.

In addition, an absolutely hysterical Current TV parody of Twitter and the Fail Whale – recast as an evil and hungry creature bent on eating people on Twitter – has made it’s way around the Internet:

As much as twitterers (or is it tweeters?) dislike not being able to use the service, there is something strangely reassuring about the Fail Whale. Dare I say sometimes people even secretly hope to experience a sighting?

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Harvard University Sells Campus; Uploads Everything Online

April 1, 2009

Even the most venerable entities are not immune to economy adversity.

From American Express to Wynn Resorts, drastic action has been taken to ensure survival. This financial firestorm has scorched America’s oldest educational institution: Harvard University.

harvard-logoIn a bold move designed to ensure its fiscal survival, Harvard University today announced that it is selling it’s campus and going entirely online.

Billionaire businessman and 1965 Harvard Business School alumnus Robert K. Kraft purchased the 308 acre campus for an undisclosed sum.

Kraft will develop the land into a massive commercial and residential complex in the heart of Cambridge, MA named “Harvard’s 100 Yard.”

“This was the most economically viable option available. We will save millions of dollars in toilet paper alone!” said Harvard President Dr. Drew G. Faust.

The school has experience with online learning through its Extension School and development of edX, but will develop a proprietary instructional platform for this new venture: Fully Online Optimized Learning System (FOOLS).

In addition to robust learning tools, FOOLS will integrate several interactive features, including a virtual classroom environment similar to Second Life.

“Certainly we will miss our beautiful campus, but I am sure it will be equally as enlightening sending instant messages to each other,” Faust added. “L-O-L, as they say!”

The change comes at a time of unusual fiscal concern at the historic campus. The university’s $36.9 billion endowment recently suffered losses of at least 22% (estimated at $8 billion) and projections anticipate a further decline. Insiders fear the loss could be even higher once real estate and private equity declines are considered.

AOL founder Steve Case has volunteered to produce thousands of CD-ROMs containing the systems operating system. Nobody expects to use them for anything but improvised coasters, yet Case insists.

Internet raconteur Philip J. “Pud” Kaplan will ease the transition by creating a “deadpool” game in which students can bet which classmate will fail next. Likewise, Facebook founder and former Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg will personally design an application to virtually recreate the social scene at the university.

Social media expert Chris Brogan has also been hired to provide strategic vision while Loren Feldman will produce daily video updates of the technical development using puppets. Shel Israel and Robert Scoble will document the historic transition on Twitter.

“These people are all dopes,” Feldman groaned when informed of the news. “They should have asked me for my opinion since it is always the right one!”

Loic Le Meur and Gary Vaynerchuk will provide a continuous supply of French wine and cheese to the developers, faculty, staff and students during the transition. To address any potential psychological concerns Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura will be on call to  offer counseling services to those in need.

“The school is getting real,” said Dr. Phil. “Far too often people wait until it is too late to do what’s right.”

Not to be outdone, Dr. Laura is quoted as saying “without dormitories those stupid co-eds won’t be shacking up like unpaid whores!”

With regard to the development of the campus, Robert Kraft — who developed Patriot Place adjacent to Gillette Stadium where his New England Patriots play –  is no stranger to tackling big tasks and succeeding. The 67 year-old Kraft, with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion, was named the 321st richest American by Forbes magazine.

“As an alumnus I am proud to be a part of this project. Today, we are all Crimsons!” Kraft exclaimed.

Preliminary plans call for a residential area divided into four football-themed sections: First Down, Second Down, Third Down, Fourth Down, with an exclusive area for custom homes named Tom Brady Estates.

Also included will be a robust retail area with an array of retail stores. The initial list of national tenants includes HootersVictoria’s Secret, TGI Fridays, Subway, and Jiffy Lube. Patrons with small children can leave their children at “The Antonio Cromartie Daycare Center for Children with Forgettable Names” for a flat fee of $31.

In recognition of the land’s educational roots, a Dootson School of Trucking campus, “The Ted Kennedy Memorial School for Underwater Driving” and the first-ever Video Professor Academy will open on the former site of the ivy league school.

With a nod to sustainability the entire development will recycle and reuse its waste at  the Eric Mangini Waste Processing Center. The facility will be heated by the excess hot air from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT (delivered directly via an underground pipeline).

With safety as a top concern, all 308 acres will be secured by a state of the art security and video monitoring system. Patriots head coach  Bill Belichick was personally involved with the design of the video camera network.

“It’s beyond anything I could have imagined,” commented Belichick. “The video system alone is worth the investment!”

Look for the first phase of “Harvard’s 100 Yard” to open next summer!

PS: April Fools!

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