The Bolton Deventer Twitter experiment

“Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one” – Albert Einstein

“An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted” – Arthur Miller

So let me start with this: People who are accusing me of being Bolton Deventer, know only half the truth. I don’t know who Bolton Deventer is. I wish I did so I could congratulate her or him on their brilliant parody. I have great admiration for both the character and person who started it all.

For those who don’t know, Bolton Deventer is a manufactured, satirical character of a clueless, but ethusiastic smalltown net marketer from Ermelo. He burst onto the local blogging scene last year and had us all in stitches. As Times editor Ray Hartley wrote on his on his blog, the Bolton Deventer riddle was the “great internet hoax of 2007”.

I resurrected the character on Twitter a few weeks ago as an experiment, but mainly for a bit of fun. Everyone has been accusing me of being Bolton Deventer, but no-one guessed that the Twitter-Bolton and the WordPress-Bolton could be two separate people.

Before, it would have never occurred to me to revive Bolton because his character had been “killed” on his blog — and I don’t believe in ghosts. But during the blog awards, Bolton miraculously burst to life promising to reveal his true identity. For me that meant Bolton was still alive. It’s also interesting to note that during my Twitter escapade, no-one noticed that the WordPress Bolton quietly went back and deleted the posts that had briefly resurrected him for blog awards, reinstating the original post from October 2007 proclaiming his “passing away”. Perhaps it was a message that Bolton is dead, and should stay dead.

I would have eventually come clean about the Twitter-Bolton. I probably would have kept it going for a few weeks longer. I was having fun, especially listening to the theories swirling around. In fact, within seconds of creating the twitter-Bolton, it was with disbelief that both FM journalist Duncan Mcleod and Bizcommunity journalist Simone Puterman, who Bolton had just invited, got me on GTalk, asking questions about Bolton’s reappearance. I thought somehow they knew, but managed to divert their suspicions.

As Twitter-Bolton, I was also aware that I needed to stay true to the character and that the original Bolton creator would be sitting somewhere nervously wondering what the new Bolton zombie would say next. I was careful not to abuse the character in anyway. There is a legacy to protect, I thought.

While twittering as Bolton, I had some interesting observations:

  1. Bolton’s arrival on twitter was not as popular as I expected. I thought there would be a flood of followers, but only around 40 joined. The Bolton arrival post attracted only 4 muti votes. Maybe people are bored?
  2. By the reactions of certain people to Bolton’s tweets and the direct messages I received, I now have a pretty good idea of who isn’t Bolton. I have also developed a new theory on who Bolton is, and I think I know with some certainty now…
  3. It’s not as easy as you think keeping two twitter profiles going. They’ve got some weird cookie-profile linking thing going on.

And I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for the sharp eyes of Simone, who then informed Kerry_Anne. I had been meticulous and careful in executing the master plan. But on the fateful day, I became sloppy and I just had too many browsers open, a slow bandwith problem, and two profiles feeding off one cookie. I’d also become lazy, posting within in minutes of my own personal tweets, which aroused suspicions.

So when I posted the Bolton words that mistakenly appeared via my own Twitter profile, I was faced with a split-second decision: concoct an elaborate plan by pretending to speak like Bolton or just delete the tweet and hope no-one would see. It was up for less than a milli-second, so I deleted. It would have been easier to get away with it if it hadn’t been a direct message, in this case to Nomadic conference organiser Dave Duarte.

These things conspired to bring down the curtains. But mainly, it was the dogged investigative skills of Simone, even going as far as finding a twitter archive, Tweetscan, that would ensure twitter-Bolton was busted!

So everyone, you aint completely correct — I was the twitter-Bolton for a while and had ya fooled, and hopefully laughing. Bolton is still out there. Maybe Bolton will be resurrected again, and again. He is now a popular culture icon (if not a bit niched), so owned by the people who find this funny and care.

There will be some that won’t ever believe me. But I guess only me, the wordpress Bolton and Barbs know the real truth. I do hope one day we’ll find out who the real Bolton Deventer is. Maybe this will finally bring her or him out?

Bolton is dead, again, but the mystery continues…

Comments (5)

  1. Mike wrote::

    I think the very least you can do after toying with all our fragile emotions is tell us who you think he / she is…

    Friday, April 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm #
  2. matt wrote::

    no comprende mike 🙂

    Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 10:11 am #
  3. Glad to got that cleared up but I’m waiting for all the “I’m the real Bolton Deventer” posts. What would happen if somebody actually comes out and “admits” (s)he is the real Bolton? How will we even know for sure? Only a post on the WordPress blog can be trusted, or can it even? An interesting conspiracy this is turning out to be. 🙂

    Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 1:49 pm #
  4. heartwarmer wrote::

    c’mon matthew – spill.
    hey maybe bolton is koekemoer or mzekezeke.

    Monday, April 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm #
  5. Jayne Morgan wrote::

    This does sound a bit like protesting too much … doesn’t it?

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 12:33 pm #