Meet the “Fail Whale”…
the image that is shown when the infamous micro-blogging site, Twitter, is overloaded.
For those of you who are not familiar with Twitter, it is a social networking site where users can post a 140-character long of sentences, to express and announce anything from the party they’re gonna attend or about the movie that they just watched, pretty much like your facebook.com‘s status updates or the karma-driven plurk entries at plurk.com.
Twitter is currently down for unplanned maintenance *doh*?
Most sites show a relatively boring and annoying “not found” and “site currently down” page to their users during down time or when their user stumble upon a broken link.
Twitter, however, chose to express empathy to their users during down time. Biz Stone, a Twitter founder, chose an illustration, that best illustrates the teamwork at Twitter working to resolve the problem, on iStockPhoto a while back.
The image is an image of a flock of birds (associated with the Twitter bird) are lifting a smiling whale from the ocean. The effect was found so effective and so touching. The users are entertained by the cute smiling whale being lifted by the flock of birds, instead. Some users suggested that they give the whale a name. Later the whale finally got a name: “Fail Whale”, a name coined by one of the fans and twitter users.
The Fail Whale
The “fail whale” became so popular, that it spawned lots of fans, fan sites, fan pages and groups. One fan, even contacted the original creator of the “fail whale”, Ms. Yiying Lu to inform her of her work that is now popular among twitter users world-wide. Ms. Lu, who at first is unaware of Twitter when she first created and uploaded the illustration to iStockPhoto, suddenly has gained a lot of supporters and fans of her artwork. I can only imagined the surprise and the excitement she felt when she found out that her work is used on a very famous micro-blogging site.
Soon, fans found out the real back story of the “fail whale”, which was originally named “Lifting Up a Dreamer” and was intended as an e-card for her friend overseas. Ms. Lu suddenly became as famous as her friendly smiling whale.
You can find many articles about her and her whales all over the news and the internet:
- How Fail Whale Became a Hit @ Sydney Morning Herald
- Twitter, Twitter, little Star @ Australia’s Sunday Life
- ‘FailWhale’ Gives Frustrated Twitterers Something to Smile About @ Wired
- A Successful Failure, Fail Whale @ The New York Times
Fans fell in love with the whale and instead of frowns, the cute whale made people smile during down time. So you can really call it a failure, can’t you? Because it really served its purpose and grew into a global icon. Not only that, many “fail whale” t-shirts and mugs have been sold to numerous of fans.
So, you have to remember that being famous and successful is perhaps only a click away in this era. Just remember the fail whale. “Success” is only a swim or a lift away from “failure”, just keep smiling.
Check out some of the sites about the “Fail Whale”:
- “What is Fail Whale?” by Yiying Lu
- The Fail Whale Fan Club
- Fail Whale Facebook Fan Page
- Fail Whale Twitter Page