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The immortalized Twitter confessions of a guy named Myra

April 14, 2010

Fame just got really cheap. Everyone who has ever twitted anything on Twitter is about to become part of a great unified cultural algorithm, otherwise known as a government database. The random Twitter cluster is about to be archived by the Library of Congress. Myra Kapolsky never suspected in her wildest dreams that she would become a cultural icon.

“Wait a minute,” says the attentive reader. “Your headline says Myra’s a guy.” Um, I can explain. Sort of. Maybe I was bored with what I was reading. Maybe I was in a lot of pain. I think actually it was a conversation I was having with my husband, about the deleterious effects of Twitter on language and culture. I set up a Twitter account so that I could see what Twitter was. I didn’t even know what it looked like. I used the name Myra Kapolsky for absolutely no reason, and set up an inconsistent profile, I think identifying Myra as a 20-year-old male.

Anyway, Myra’s contribution to the immortal Twitter constellation was fairly short-lived, not quite five minutes. She led the world on a wild goose chase, pretending to stop for ice at a Seven-Eleven somewhere in the Midwest. I figured once Myra had 60,000 followers, I would close the account and leave them in suspense, probably crashing Twitter. But after a couple of minutes, I realized that Myra had competition: by an incredible convergence of circumstances, Myra’s escapades, which threatened to overhaul cultural iconography forever, coincided with the theft of Lance Armstrong’s bike. Upstaged and unfollowed, I closed the account and never beheld a twit again. But how comforting to know that my own brainchild, Myra Kapolsky, will live on in space in the archives of the Library of Congress. She’ll be in good company: all the Twitterers, once seeking individual attention, caught up together in a nebulous cloud of twitter.

It isn’t easy being a cultural algorithm, but I have to take it humbly. In the words of an actual Library of Congress blogger, “[I]t boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data. And I’m certain we’ll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive.” I daresay.

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