SAN FRANCISCO -- I was here on a simple quest: curious to know if the inventors of Twitter were as annoying as their invention. -- Maureen Dowd, "To Tweet or Not to Tweet," New York Times, April 22, 2009.
BOSTON --Edgar Allan Poe would love Alexander Graham Bell's workshop here. Pendulums, buzzers, and ticking sounds everywhere, with a mysterious note to the chambermaid in crabbed script. In a droll nod to shifting technologies, there's an 18th-century ear trumpet on the settee, where Mr. Bell evidently left it while in a fog of inventive absentmindedness.
I was here on a simple quest: curious to know if the inventor of the telephone was as loud, intrusive, and soul-destroying as his invention.
I sat down with Mr. Bell, 39, and his assistant Thomas Watson, 22, and asked them to explain why they shouldn't be condemned to a slow, painful death.
ME: The telephone seems like letter-writing without the paper and pen. Is there any message that can't wait for a passenger pigeon?
BELL: Possibly the message I'd like to deliver to you right now.
ME: Did you know you were designing a toy for bored housewives and the indolent rich?
BELL: Actually, I was trying to help deaf people.
ME: I heard about a woman who telephoned her husband to say she was in the throes of childbirth. Whatever happened to private pain?
ME: Why did you think the answer to telegrams was a noisy new telegram?
BELL: We have designed the receiver so you can leave it off the hook.
ME: Why did you call it a "telephone"? That's Greek! Isn't English good enough for you?
BELL: We tried calling it the FarSound, but Watson turned it into a rude joke.
ME: Would Shakespeare have "telephoned"?
WATSON: Perhaps not. But we have it on good report that Abraham Lincoln would.
ME: Was there anything in your childhood that turned you into a loathsome scourge to humanity?
BELL: You mean my mother's deafness, which made me dedicate my life to helping people communicate?
ME: I would rather be flayed alive and gradually guillotined than use a telephone.
BELL: Operators are standing by.
Image from here.
This is funnier than the original. Who is that woman and is she on twitter yet?
Posted by: Colin Campbell | April 22, 2009 at 05:43 PM
This is BRILLIANT!!
Posted by: Jordan | April 22, 2009 at 07:04 PM
Maureen Dowd is a vapid twit. No pun intended.
Posted by: deja pseu | April 22, 2009 at 07:51 PM
If only she could understand parody.
Posted by: lwestin | April 22, 2009 at 08:19 PM
I thought I'd die, this was so damn funny. Very nicely done!
Posted by: Rob Cottingham | April 22, 2009 at 08:29 PM
Take that Dowd! Good one, Nancy.
Posted by: Laurel Ennis | April 22, 2009 at 09:06 PM
LOVE this! Now I have something to send my real-life friends who don't (want to) get Twitter.
Posted by: Kelly Parkinson | April 22, 2009 at 09:17 PM
Oh, thank you for this, Nancy. Exactly the levity that was needed. Wow, is Maureen Dowd out of touch. I mean, you don't have to like Twitter, but to be so incredibly condescending to Ev & Biz! I thought they handled it brilliantly.
As have you! Love this hilarious parody.
Posted by: Amy Muller | April 22, 2009 at 09:17 PM
You are my hero!
Posted by: @pammybean | April 22, 2009 at 09:57 PM
Posted by: Anthony Shore | April 22, 2009 at 11:40 PM
Free speech at glorious work. I don't much like the phone either, but to each his own form of communication. Twitter is deliciously and devilishly brief, but also a playground for the self-absorbed. But no writer, or talker or thinker, for that matter, is not a little bit so afflicted. Self included.
Posted by: Steve | April 23, 2009 at 07:22 AM
Why is this listed under "Humor"? This isn't even remotely humorous.
Posted by: John | April 23, 2009 at 07:36 AM
Ha ha ha, awesome.
Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2009 at 10:21 AM
ObPedant: "carrier pigeons" delivered messages; "passenger pigeons" delivered themselves to extinction on a plate.
Though MoDo would likely confuse them.
Posted by: nick s | April 23, 2009 at 10:51 AM
@Nick S: Duly noted. God bless our loyal ObPedants.
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | April 23, 2009 at 10:55 AM
Posted by: Erin | April 23, 2009 at 10:57 AM
Posted by: Mauricio | April 23, 2009 at 11:01 AM
Posted by: MLT43 | April 23, 2009 at 11:27 AM
Really, really, really funny.
Posted by: Jon Carroll | April 23, 2009 at 11:37 AM
Posted by: Beerzie | April 23, 2009 at 11:39 AM
Great job. I want to see the next one with inventor of the smoke signal.
Posted by: Tom Turnbull | April 23, 2009 at 12:02 PM
Well done! Clever, timely, funny!
FWIW, I'm not 100% convinced that Dowd was intending to come off the way a lot of people interpreted it, though.
Posted by: Account Deleted | April 23, 2009 at 12:15 PM
Excellent parody of Dowd's snarky interview with Ev and Biz. According to this article on SocialMediaToday http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/88634# "Twitter now beats out the New York Times in terms of traffic."
I guess that explains why Maureen's got her panties in a bunch when it comes to Twitter.
And if she really would "rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account", I'm sure there are many offended Twitter users who would be happy to oblige her.
Posted by: Sharon McPherson | April 23, 2009 at 12:29 PM
This is truly amazing!!! Who are you, wonderful person?
Posted by: Nina | April 23, 2009 at 12:47 PM
This really is a brilliant piece.
I've appreciated some of Dowd's musings, but her Twitter article was shockingly off base. As a parody, it's kinda funny, but a serious piece? No way!
Now, if her intention was to get lots of press around this. Mission accomplished :)
Posted by: Tim Baran | April 23, 2009 at 12:58 PM