Friday, July 25, 2008

Twitter, Twitter, where art thou Twitter?

This is in response to this post by Kyle James.

I love Twitter and use it and follow a bunch people, but I'm not sure what to make of Twitter in the sense of how "important" it is.

Is it the next email? (by which I mean life/work transforming killer app, not something that has been horribly abused by spammers) Doubtful. Email, for those of us that remember when email became part of our lives, really changed the way we worked and kept in touch with people we knew.

Twitter is not that revolutionary, though it has allowed be to befriend and converse with people I've never met and know little about (other than what I've picked up via Twitter).

Ten years from now, what will we be saying about Twitter? I think that's one way to think about the potential importance of Twitter.

Email is so useful, that despite it's flaws, it will still be here in ten years. Twitter? I doubt it, particularly if it can't address it's stability and downtime issues. Something better will come along and replace it.

Will Twitter ever reach the critical mass that email has? Doubtful again. How many people can you follow in Twitter before so much scrolls by that you never see? If more and more people use it, the streaming nature of Twitter will work against it.

Email lets you deal with it at your own pace. Emails don't go anywhere. Technically, neither do tweets, but the nature of tweets is in the now. Two day old tweets are... not interesting. Two day old emails may be interesting, depending on what they are.

What, fundamentally, is the purpose of Twitter? You tell me:
  1. Vital communication tool
  2. Way to keep in touch with friends
  3. Way to feel connected to a virtual community
  4. Instant vanity publishing
  5. Strange combination of communication and instant gratification
  6. Way to waste time by watching other people's lives
  7. All of the above