Today there was an event that demonstrated what is right and wrong about Twitter. I’m not talking about the Iranian elections although I suspect the issue I am about to raise might apply there too. Instead, it was the new iPhone 3.0 firmware that became available today. Turns out it was popular, so popular that the iTunes Store has been down but more interestingly, the new software would not install because the activation server was unavailable. What is an “activation server”? I have no idea. But I can now tell you that apparently it was irrelevant to the whole process yet a bottleneck.
When I encountered this problem I did a Twitter search and found it to be universal. Thousands of tweets were up with complaints about the issue. I could see a few that just said “keep trying, it eventually worked for me” but then I happened to glance at one tweet that suggested disconnecting from the Internet after the software downloaded and during the update process when the software was extracting. I tried that and the updater decided it didn’t need no stinking activation if you weren’t connected and skipped it. That step skipped, the updater continued happily along and I could re-connect to the Internet and wait for it to finish. It did and there have been no problems.
But here is the thing, Twitter solved my problem and solved it quickly. But it also solved it randomly. As I write this, tweets continue pouring in about this issue and most seem not to know about the solution. You can’t blame them. In the mass of traffic on this issue, there is no way to search for a solution. Search for “activation solution” and you get solutions and requests for solution. It might settle down soon but for many hours, there is complete information overload.
The problem is that Twitter needs a means of having user-assigned relevance to tweets. Citations or ‘re-tweets’ might do it but currently those are outside the twitter system. Until then, Twitter is a blessing (I can share your pain) but a curse (there are needles in the haystack).