Twitter ‘Fail Whale’

If you’ve been on Twitter in the past few months (especially when the World Cup was on) you will have probably come across their error page, saying that Twitter is over capacity. Instead of a blank page boring you with this information, you’re presented with a lovely little illustration, dubbed by many now as the ‘Fail Whale’. It’s really not that often that an error page gets so much attention.

The ‘Fail Whale’ is the creation of Yiying Lu (originally titled ‘Lifting A Dreamer’) and was first intended as a greeting to an overseas friend. The Twitter people found it on iStockPhoto and used it to replace the stupid laughing cat you might have seen previously. There is an interview with Yiying Lu here where she talks about her designs, and you can also see the rest of the set; they are excellent.

What i find really intriguing is how far a simple 404 error page has permeated into society. This is mostly down to the meteoric rise of Twitter, with it being seen as a communication platform rather than a brand (only brand to be constantly advertised on the BBC). Still, the range of items the ‘Fail Whale’ has become is quite amazing, see below.

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