Twitter: The Talk of the Web, and for Good Reason

If you think back to over 23 years ago, when short messaging service (SMS) technology came to be, you might realize how impressive it is that such an old technology still exist. SMS has brought new and inspiring ideas for today’s “web 2.0” applications and services. It is this same technology which has empowered Twitter to flourish.

Right now, Twitter is becoming the talk of the web, and if you don’t believe that, just listen to any recent episode of This Week in Tech. You just can’t avoid it, and it has become a really big deal. Is it a bandwagon? Absolutely, but this one is certainly worth the effort of jumping on.

Recently, applications like FriendFeed and Plurk are trying to do what Twitter has already done. FriendFeed, at its current state, isn’t going to win. I’m only following seven people, and it is far too much information to digest. If I was following 40 people, I would have already given up.

Plurk, however, takes it a step further by displaying information via timelines. Unfortunately, they made it into more of a game with the karma system. At least 70% of the stuff I have seen on there is just an attempt to increase karma. Honestly, it is a stupid idea! I mean, why ask users to add noise? In the end, most “plurks” have an artificial quality. I’d invite someone to argue this point with me, but I’ve already given up on the service; at least until the karma system is removed.

When I first experienced these mini-blogging services, I thought it was interesting that they limited people to 140 characters. I thought it was pointless. Honestly, I thought they were all doomed to failure. Gosh, I so very wrong. It now appears that frequent chunks of small information can entertain users as much as a two hour movie. It can sometimes be annoying, but overall, I enjoy knowing what people are up to.

The reason why Twitter is so appealing to people is that it gives users the ability to instantaneously connect with friends, colleagues, peers, and acquaintances through the internet. Not only that, but it allows us to use third-party applications to stay in touch as well. I simply can’t name a previous instance when this has been attempted on such a grand scale.

Now, I am sure that the vision of Twitter when it first started was very different then today—which is made obvious due the issues of scaling the application—but it is Twitter that has opened our eyes to what is just a small glimpse into the future of the social web. It is such a simple concept, but it is one that works well.

Third-party Support

Twitter is also a shining example of how openness can really pay off in this day of technological rivalry. Jaiku, at once considered a great threat (and some still consider superior) to Twitter, has stumbled by failing to support by third-parties. Now owned by Google, Jaiku still fails to attract as many users as its competition.

It makes sense—Twitter is made fun and interactive by the applications and services developed around it. In some sense, you could consider Twitter as a framework to building your social timeline which can shared with friends. Twitter is nothing without the third-party support it has today. It is almost like Facebook; its appeal has been with third-party applications.

The Future

I understand that they have had a tremendous amount of technical issues. The service was not designed for the purpose it serves today. Fortunately, things are starting to resume normal operation.

The development team has learned from their mistakes. However, they need to re-write the Twitter system now. There is no point in continually building on a design concept for another purpose. They would do themselves a huge favor by optimizing everything now.

Regardless, Twitter is growing, and it will forever have a place in technological history.

What are your opinions on Twitter and its new and old competition? Do you believe Twitter will survive? Let me know in the comments section.

8 thoughts on “Twitter: The Talk of the Web, and for Good Reason

  1. Glad to see that you like the SMS experience.

    If you are still interested in an invite to Jaiku, send me an email (find the link on my personal blog). If users can send invites, I should have some available.

  2. I have posted about this myself at I have tried to put it down but enjoy the short messaging to whomever might be listening.

    I would like to try Jaiku but they won’t send me an invite.

    Thanks for the post.


  3. The best way to utilize Twitter as a personal marketing tool. You could ask for assistance with digging/stumbling great articles. You could ask for views. You could make people aware of your projects.

    I was listening to This Week in Tech, and more than anything, they agree it is more of an ego boost. If you have a few thousand friends, it just means your more socially available, and it could have the effect of driving more people to following you and your work.

    That is a simple way to utilize it.

  4. I’m using Twitter for about 1 month… and, as I can see, it is eating a couple hours of my time and concentration every day… imagine if I lost 1 hour per day, at then of week, will be at least 5, em at the end of month, 25 hours… so… a lot of money losted…

    I don’t know… I’m still trying to understand and use this new Web 2.0 tools… I hope the Twitter could be something more than a buzz of the time…

  5. Twitter may or may not succeed, for the reasons you mention. But it should. Why? Because Twitter has the potential to bring human to search…and a lot more.

    Although Twitter sounds like a useless high pitch to the uninitiated, it’s ramifications for the future of the web goes deep beneath the surface. For the first time in human history we have a way to connect people (in a permission-based way) in ways no other tool has been able to accomplish. Twitter is the sound of the long tail wagging–that’s what makes it so fascinating and perhaps why we still egg it on in spite of its bird droppings and advertisements for plump whales. I can follow my buddy down the road or a great like Steve Rubel (or a living God like James of course). I couldn’t do that before Twitter and I’m basically just a random dude. That’s unprecedented.

    Imagine a Googlesque Twitter. One where I can not only select a few close friends to Tweet with, but one where I can search and select others who I might value in following. Further: as the Twittersphere’s database expands over time, I can imagine a more focused, compact human-based database of Tweet-bits that can be used to scour. We may not recognize it, but Twitter could very well be the next Google (in light of mobile web breaking out of its egg). That may be easy to dismiss, but Twitter really is more than just a meme dujour–it’s an historical leap into something remarkable.

    Plurk’s not going to work (in its current state: Space Invaders meets Whack-a-Mole isn’t my definition of intelligent social interaction). But plurk does have one feature I’d like to see in Twitter: a way to pool a conversation to the side. If James Tweets an idea or link and I’d like to discuss with him or a group interested in that particular Tweet, rather than @ everybody and pollute the Twittersphere, we could carry on a quick back-and-forth. We could use D of course, but the conversation wouldn’t be aggregated.

    I would also like more plasticity in an interface where I can zoom in and out on the conversation. I might want to see only Tweets from a few Twitters while temporarily excluding the Tweets from everyone. And then I’d like to zoom out to other groups that I have defined, and then maybe back to turning the floodgate back on (because I do like the noise, but not all the time). These are just some wishes. Examples of what can be done with Twitter.

    James, you’re right: Twitter needs to get its optimization right…and right now. My sense is that Twitter will survive, but it’s wings are wounded.

    I don’t spam, so if you’d like to follow me and keep the conversation going: @PhilBaumann.

  6. I’ve honestly given up on Twitter. Maybe I’m just old school, maybe I’m brain dead, but I see Twitter as a productivity killer.

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