Sunday, October 5, 2008

War of the Worlds 2.0

Last week, Josh Lewis; friend, former Apple coworker, and Lex Luthor hairstyle enthusiast; got me thinking about fiction on Twitter. Then, Ryan Paul pointed out that he had written an article about Twitter fiction already. Here's the idea. Let's (and by "us", I mean everyone) reenact The War of the Worlds, on the Internet, for Halloween!

CBS ran the Orsen Welles War of the Worlds radio program in the tense times leading up to the second World War. The aforementioned Wikipedia article claims that Adolf Hitler denounced the program as a sign of democratic decadence. Without commercial breaks and interpolated among real news, the program was broadcast in earnest and public panic ensued. War of the Worlds was the Ultimate Prank, never to be reproduced. As an homage, let's take Halloween to tweet, share bookmarks and status messages, and blog in earnest about the alien invasion in progress. Everyone, tell your story.

The War of the Worlds has several phases that I believe have strong analogs in the tense times leading to World Web II (point oh).

  1. a noteworthy astronomer speculates on the possibility of an alien invasion. This would be a good time to talk about the Drake equation in your blog, especially if astronomy is your hobby. Send an email to with your blog so we can proliferate it on the @wotw2 Twitter account.
  2. The alien invasion occurs. Follow @wotw2 to keep in sync with the progress of the invasion. This Twitter feed will automatically update, in general terms, the unfolding of the alien invasion like clockwork throughout the world. Coordinate with Tweeters in your area to tell local stories.
    1. cylinders fall from the sky. Tweet about where you are. Ask your friends where they are. Form posses. Skip town or take a closer look.
    2. tripods emerge. Flee, get stuck in traffic, or take refuge and tell us what you see.
    3. Martians begin obliterating every Terran metropolitan area with heat rays. Don't call them heat-rays; that would be a dead giveaway. Describe what they do and come up with your own name! Do you work in a public service like hospitals or fire? What's your job and what do you do? Do you organize your coworkers and flee? Do you head for the hills with your go-bag?
    4. Military, local militia, and national guard units get organized and attack the alien invaders. Do you serve in the military? This is your last chance to tell us where you're headed. Do you have family in a militia? Try to keep in touch and let us know how and where they valiantly fought and lost.
    5. The invasion spreads from cities to countryside.
    6. Tripods begin to shut down an malfunction. Are you near one? Do you take a closer look?
  3. After the threat dies down, people begin to blog and speculate about what happened, and every topic near and dear to them.
  4. The curtain rises. Blog, link, and tweet about the experience.

The "War of the Worlds 2.0" event will be synchronized, on Halloween Friday, with the account and we're writing automation with Ryan Paul's Gwibber tool to automatically post Tweets to various services on that day. If you would like to make additional accounts to synchronize local events, please send an email to with a Twitter account name and password and we'll hook you up with edit privileges for the tweet plan on Google Docs. Tweets (rows) will be deployed for each column (account).

Let's tell a story!


Anonymous said...

This is GREAT! Can't wait to see how it rolls out.

Last year, I used Twitter to tell a sci-fi adaptation of a Herman Melville short story:

ryan said...

It would be really cool to have a google maps mashup of invasion locations and where tweets are coming from. Any takers?

Mary said...

Great idea about the google map mashup. WE are already seeing alien activity over Nashville.

Leo said...

Strange lights in the horizon over the pacific as seen from San Diego. Looks to be increased military aircraft activity.

Unknown said...

We've had weird streaks of light over Melbourne, FL earlier tonight. Check out my Twitter feed. @Herbwoman

Joe Crawford said...

Awesome. Awesome awesome.

AV Flox said...

This is fun. I made an invasion collage of LA.

mousewords said...

This was awesome and elegant! It was amazing for me, since I've never read the book, heard the broadcast, or seen the movies. I was completely in the dark about what might happen next. That was chilling!