Twitter. Bitter?

Just got back from seeing Evan Williams, the CEO of Twitter, at a Churchill Club event. Was very amused when he snarkily pointed out that Barack Obama hasn't made a tweet since he got elected. He felt "used." Sniff.

Ironic that I'm blogging about it instead if twittering about it, but I just twittered about this blog post, so I guess it all works out. Even more ironic that Evan Williams used to be the CEO of Blogger which is what I used to make this blog post. About Twitter. Whew.

Twitter has been gaining a lot of traction lately in the media. Some people are even calling it "the next big thing."

I can't call myself a big fan, however. My last five tweets are dated Oct. 16, Sept. 25, June 24, May 14 and Dec 21, 2007 (it's December 2, 2008 today). I understand the "watch the chatter" aspect of subscribing to a bunch of people you know and just being "present." But this concept of "presence" is everywhere now and frankly, (drum roll, about to coin a term here...) I'm suffering from Presence Fatigue. I've got Facebook Status, LinkedIn Status, a sadly neglected blog and I'm supposed to Tweet too? Who the hell is listening? I've got 39 followers, but I don't know who half of them are. And I'm following some people technically, but I'm not looking at Twitter so not really.

Evan pointed out that when he was at Google, they were always successful at rolling out web apps because they focused. And, I think Twitter is similar to Google in that it is simple and focused. Google was nothing but a search box for years. Twitter is nothing but a 140 character box. And they're both dominating their categories. Great.

But Twitter has to change. They have to change because I don't have any way to discover friends on it, so I've basically tried it out and abandoned it. They're working on fixing this—according to Evan Williams they are trying to make it so you can port your Facebook friends into Twitter. But as soon as they start making this app better — and they have to because they're not making any money now — they're going to lose that simplicity and focus that makes them the Google of "presence."

Mr. Williams says he has a plan to make money that won't screw up the product. He also says that the reason things fell apart with the Facebook acquisition was that he thought it would be a "disappointment" to sell the company for only $500 million. I'll just wait and see.

1 comment:

  1. Twitter is very complicated, and even though I use it daily I am still ambivalent about it. Twitter can be the Nth degree of presence which can either lead you to a) total friend fatigue or b) turn off all but the most treasured of contacts.

    I chose the latter because although I love some people very much, I really don't care what they're eating every day. Some people just tweet too much, or too negatively, or too intimately (you really see another side of people). I feel like I have the dial turned to a good frequency for me.

    It might also interest you to know that they're actually making it harder for people to find each other, not easier. I tried to find you on twitter, and discovered they removed their search box. You can only add people via email addresses, and there are a few layers of complexity to their system.

    Anyway, twitter to me has always felt like a niche technology that will never be right for everyone.


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