So Google may (or may not)
Some will consider this as yet another seamless step in Google's attempt not to dominate the world, but merely to own it. Others will be fascinated to see whether, in Google's hands, Twitter would lose its cachet, becoming drool rather than cool.
And then there's Douglas Bowman.
He left Google just a couple of weeks ago, baring his frustration as he went, in a blog.
"I won't miss a design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data," he wrote.
Right now, he appears to be the creative director of Twitter. He went there, presumably, to live or die by a slightly more tasteful and subjective saber. Now he may be faced with a return to those philosophies that seemed to have sucked the spit out of his soul.
You might think that Google would have exhibited some chastened emotions after his departure. You might think that the company would have considered whether their data-driven mania was, indeed, mania.
You might also think that grass is blue, the sky is black, and cow dung smells like the finest olive oil.
You see, last Sunday morning, I was bereft of Premier League soccer. And my television forced itself upon some local NBC channel, where there appeared a show called "Press Here."
I am sure it is a fine show. Just not, for me, for a Sunday morning. Anyway, before I could even slap myself awake, there appeared Google person Marissa Mayer. She was explaining to a couple of chaps (I'm sorry, I didn't catch who they were) how data can prove anything. And everything.
Here is a sample from her sermon: "Every design starts with an instinct. It should look like this, or it should look like that. You can actually test it with data. The humbling thing about that is sometimes the data proves you wrong. So for every change I propose, you know, three out of four, four out of five, the data will support the change."
This was said with such astonishingly smug certainty that my butter croissant involuntarily twirled around my mouth before attempting to exit between my two front teeth.
This one short segment suggested why Douglas Bowman might have gone slightly loopy at the thought of 41 shades of blue being subjected to Google's infallible data test.
Of course, in moving to Twitter, Mr. Bowman may have negotiated such fine terms of employment that the only data that will matter to him, in the event of a sale to Google, would be the data remitted by his bank.
Still, can you imagine his first meeting post-sale when a know-all face looks upon him benignly and says, in a know-all voice: "That little blue birdy. The data just doesn't support it"?