Thursday, 2 April 2009


Look, I can't really be criticized for being fooled yesterday, can I? It was only for a few seconds; well, say half a minute. I mean, I hadn't been up for very long, and hadn't yet had any coffee, so it was with bleary eyes and half my attention that I was glancing at the Guardian while dispiritedly chewing some of those polystyrene granules which, with a little dried fruit and semi-skimmed milk, masquerade as a healthy breakfast.

Thus, it was with mounting horror that I started to read a news item to the effect that the paper will in future be published via Twitter, the social networking service which enables anyone with an internet connection to tell the world when they are feeling sad, or thinking about having a cup of tea. Further, a project is underway to rewrite the whole of the paper's archives, stretching back to 1821, in the form of 140-character text messages, known as "tweets".

But I had realised what the date was before I reached the bit about the archive.

The rest of the news article was very nearly convincing. I read on to learn that some major archive items already twitterised include "1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!"; "OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see for more"; "Berlin Wall falls! Majority view of Twitterers = it's a historic moment! What do you think? Have your say" and "JFK assassin8ed @ Dallas, def heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?"

And Martin Luther King's legendary 1963 speech appears in the Guardian's twitterised archive as "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by", eliminating the waffle and bluster of the originals.

The whole story is here and seems to me to be worthy to be ranked with the classics such as the BBC 1957 spaghetti harvest and the Guardian's 1977 seven-page supplement about San Serriffe. These and others are discussed here.

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