We move so fast these days, a 2007 news broadcast can seem downright paleolithic -- especially when these intrepid reporters are trying to figure out what "a Twitter" is.
The idea of Tweet Seats -- reserved sections of theaters for patrons who insist on using their smartphones during movies and Broadway shows -- has been spreading over the past few months, and it's now become popular enough to draw a patent lawsuit from a company that says it invented Tweet Seats before the existence of Twitter.
In a patent dating from 2005, Inselberg Interactive claims a "method and apparatus for interactive audience participation at a live spectator event," and the company is using that patent to sue Connecticut theater company Goodspeed Musicals, which offers the seats at its events.
The patent in question sounds less like Tweet Seats and more like the vote-by-phone live polling system used to display audience reactions on the DiamondVision at sporting events, but Inselberg and its lawyers at Chicago-based Global IP Group are extrapolating it to include all use of smartphones at live theater events.
Although anything that shuts down texting and tweeting at the theater can't be all bad, the suit does seem suspiciously like patent trolling.
While the Internet has many advantages over print media, the decline of paper has made it a lot harder to back up the claim that writing we don't like is only fit for wiping ours butts with.
Enter: Shi**er, a service that will print out a Twitter feed of your choosing on four rolls of toilet paper and ship it directly to your door, so you can show obnoxious Twitterers exactly what you think of their 140-character musings.
But please, don't actually show them. That TwitPic would be so NSFW.
When Morris tweets a message to @FeedToby, the machine sets off a buzzer to get the terrier's attention, and then a printer motor pulls open a trap door that releases dog food into Toby's bowl. It even has a webcam, so Morris can watch Toby enjoying his snacks.
"At first, he didn't know what was going on. Now he sits underneath, wagging his tail and waiting for the treats to drop," Morris said.
Thus far, the system has only run into one snag: Morris' friends and family liked the Twitter setup so much that they sent Toby too many treats, so the food machine now only works from 9 am to 9 pm.