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.
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.
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.