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#a261 :: Candy wrappers – War of the Worlds on Twitter

November 1, 2008

030908.jpgOh my gawd:

Readers of this blog know that I don’t tend to post gushy teenage exclamations like “oh my gawd” that often (as in, page never) But here it is, one of those Heavy Little Objects that really makes you say “oh, my effing gawd:

A chunk of bona-fide space rock.

But check the picture – click it to enlarge – it’s not like any rock I’ve ever seen. It’s all shot through with holes and what looks like some kind of organic matter, like veins or worms or something …

It all started a couple of hours ago, something huge and bright flew over our house in Silver Lake and smashed into Griffith Park, right near where the brushfires burned through in summer of 2007. There was a huge explosion, and I thought it might have been a plane crash or something that started a fire.

Well, it did, but I guess LAFD got out there in a hurry and put it out and it was not a plane but a good-sized meteorite, maybe as big as a city bus, and it’s almost buried in the hillside in a pit probably 40 feet deep and 200 feet across. It hit the mountain smack-on. I’m amazed no one was killed.

I just biked down there to investigate (not much traffic at this hour, the drunks are all still in the bars and all the other good citizens are in bed already).

LAFD got it mopped up fast, but now there’s a bunch of scientists from Griffith Observatory down there, and they’ve roped off the whole area with yellow caution tape around the rock, which apparently is still hot, and LAPD’s keeping everyone back.

I couldn’t get close enough to get a good photo, but from where I stood down on Riverside, it looked like a sort of cylindrical shape. TV choppers were just buzzing in. Nothing more to see until morning, and I gotta get up early to bike before work.

Anyway, I found this little chunk of meteorite in the bottom of a burned-out hole in the chapparal right off the road by the bike lane.

I guess it’s a chip of the main meteorite that must have flaked off either when the big rock hit, or maybe it broke off during re-entry (no, entry!) and just followed it down.

It was almost red-hot when I picked it up – I doubled up my bike gloves and tossed it into my handlebar bag – but it cooled enogh within the 10 minutes it took me to get back home to where my good camera’s set up to get a photo of it.

It’s still warm, and has a really ugly metallic/organic smell, sort of a cross between rotten meat and burnt clutch lining.

I’m wondering if it has something to do with the meteor showers that a few people around the world have been Twittering about. I saw @jaybushman said another meteor hit Pershing Square downtown.

Definitely one for the permanent collection …

Bed now, though. I’ll check out the scene again tomorrow on my morning ride, though by then, CNN will probably be allll over it …. Just checked, though, and the damn cable’s on the fritz.
ENLARGEI’m winding down from a raucous, pilule madhouse Halloween night.

It was also my son’s birthday. It’s been deadline time for a pretty ambitious project at work. It’s the day a friend got married in the space of 10 minutes at lunchtime at the top of a mountain (up the wrong side of which I hiked before figuring it out and sprinting up the right side to arrive, adiposity breathless, sweating and LATE).

And it’s brought me through a hugely fun 36-hour experiment in social networking.

I blogged about it a good deal on my workplace blog – which is viewable only by my in-house colleagues – so I’m reposting it here …

So, as soon as something new comes along – and it always does – Twitter will no longer be the flavor of the month in social networking.

Until then, it’s perhaps the most immediate blunt and elegantly simple social network around.

And it’s turning into a huge, rich petri dish for uncommon interactions and multi-/mass-media experimentation:

A good geek friend of mine actually “>proposed on Twitter (she accepted, they were married today by a minister wearing an Optimus Prime Voice Changer Helmet, but that’s another story).

And for the past two days, other geeks (including me) have been creating a really unique piece of interactive art on a social network:

We’ve been posting a group re-enactment of Orson Welles’ seminal “War of the Worlds” radio broadcastright on Twitter, which just concluded, 36 hours later.

Check out the #wotw2 Twitter feed,and scroll down through the thousands of posts to see – in reverse chronological order – how the Martians almost destroyed us all this time. Here’s my stuff – in reverse-chron order, of course.

For those not yet up on it, Twitter is a microblogging social network that basically lets you post short text blasts – 140 characters max – in answer to the simple question, “What are you doing?”

This is perfect for tossing out URLs, posting fast bulletins simultaneously to all your friends, using side apps to publish cellcam photos and generally quick pings to your immediate circle.

It’s like Facebook without all the annoying apps.

A few of us kicked off on Thursday night with instructions from developer and project creator Kris Kowal, who posted a rough schedule in a Google spreadsheet and basically turned us loose.

Within a few minutes, we were germinating the idea not just in “Whoa, huge meteor just landed!” posts on Twitter, but in personal blogs, photoshopped invasion images and even some excellently positioned videos.

For the first dozen posts or so, I actually had an old newspaper colleague of mine believing that some kind of toxic meteor had crash landed in Griffith Park and was exuding violet fumes – which should tell us something about the veracity of this new medium.

Throughout the day, people would post snippets – just 140 characters, maybe 30 seconds at a time – about how they were fleeing merciless alien war machines, dodging death rays and witnessing mankind’s doom.

Individually these tweets seemed small and geeky-quirky – but adding the hash-tag #wotw2 got them sucked into the feed – and the cumulative effect there was actually pretty gripping.

As friends hipped friends to joke, some joined in, others scoffed from the sidelines, and the thing really took off.

Is it literature? Is it art? Is it a huge gag or just a waste of dozens of 20-second chunks of time? Your call.

Another good friend of mine (and #wotw2 participant) has been using social media for to create literature. Jay Bushman’s Loose-Fish Project retold a Melville short story as a science-fiction thriller on Twitter, is publishing an updated “Spoon River Anthology” as a group blog and is planning to rewrite “Pride and Prejudice” through Facebook, MySpace and other social networks.

But the Twitter-based War of the Worlds proved massively entertaining for at least a few dozen participants, and got hundreds, perhaps thousands more talking and thinking about yet another way that people – complete strangers _ can connect and create through social media.

And whether it’s art or not, it’s worth thinking about.

Here’s the Google view of coverage of the event.

And here’s Wired‘s take on what we did.

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Jetsam, symbol | Comments (2)


  1. ArtLung Blog · War of the Worlds 2.0 November 14, 2008 @ 4:00 am

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