Twitter Fatigue: Rumors of Twitter’s Demise May Not Be Greatly Exaggerated

by Neal Wiser. Follow him @nealwiser)

Over the past year, predicting Twitter’s demise due to a lack of business plan has been the topic de jour in the blogosphere. However, it’s recently become clear that Twitter faces a more immediate threat; its own success.

In my last post, Twipocalypse Now: Warnings of a Twitter Bubble, I observed that Twitter was at risk on several fronts, one of which being what I called “Twitter Fatigue” (TF). Since then, I’ve discovered that TF has been around in various forms for quite some time and that it has recently found a new sense of urgency among a growing chorus of bloggers. It now seems clear that not only is TF a malady spreading in parallel with Twitter’s own growth, but perhaps more ominously, if TF is not brought under control, it will undermine the entire Twitterverse itself.

Say, You Want a Twevolution…

twitter-evolutionIf you’re like me, you’ll agree that Twittering is a very different experience today than it was only a few months ago. Even if it’s not, I guarantee that Twittering will be a different experience for you in the near future. This is because just as change is the one undeniable constant that defines evolution, change is also something that currently defines Twitter. And change is inevitable; for the more people who join the service, the more third party services that are introduced, the more people you follow can only result in one thing; a change in your Twitter experience.


Currently, change on Twitter manifests itself as this week’s hot new service or a new way to acquire new followers or a new meme that you absolutely must participate in least you reveal yourself as a newbie, or worse; uncool. What’s more, the rate of change is accelerating, driven by Twitter’s own growth which has reached an astounding 1,382% year-over-year. All of this is in turn driving the next wave of third party services, memes and publicity which is attracting the next (massive) wave of new users who will bring with them both their own ideas on how Twitter should work and who will also unleash a torrent of tweets of biblical proportions.

Ultimately, the tremendous pressure that the forces of change are placing on Twitter will make it unrecognizable. I’m not referring to Twitter’s interface, which indeed needs significant enhancements, but that as Twitter continues to evolve, seemingly right before our eyes, what Twitter actually is may be on the verge of changing too.

Keeping up is Hard to Do

So, if it’s hard to keep up with everything that happens to and in Twitter now, how can one expect to keep up if what Twitter is changes too? First, realize that none of this should actually come as a surprise. After all, much of the same thing continues to be said about Email. However, Twitter is a very different beast. These are just some of the factors that differentiate Twitter from Email:

  1. Twitter is fast
    Admittedly, from a technical perspective, sending messages across the internet via Twitter is basically just as fast as email. However, from a functional perspective, Twitter is much faster as tweets don’t sit in the same type of queue as emails do. With Twitter, if you don’t read the message immediately, once it’s off your screen, it’s effectively gone. This creates an air of urgency that email does not have.
  2. Messages are shorter
    While the length of emails can, and often do, seem to be infinite, tweets are mercifully shorter. The 140 character limit makes it very easy to read (although not necessarily understand) messages at a glance.
  3. The volume of tweets is enormous
    While a typical email user receives over 450 emails per week. With Twitter, you could easily receive that number per hour.
  4. The number of users whom you receive tweets from is exponentially larger
    While the typical email user may receive messages from a few hundred users per week, with Twitter, a user could be receiving tweets from hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of users every day.

Clearly, the sheer volume of messages can make Twitter tough for the uninitiated, but it’s also getting tougher for many “seasoned” users as well. Consider this:

  1. Although many “seasoned” users may have learned the fine art of unfollowing, odds are that they will probably be following significantly more people by virtue of the fact that they’ve been using the service longer. More people equals more tweets.
  2. Twitter lulls unsuspecting users into a false sense of security with its barebones interface.

Hello, hello, hello… Is There Anybody in There? Is There Anyone at Home?

cluttered-simpleAdmit it, at first blush Twitter doesn’t look like much because it’s so barebones. That’s one of the things that makes Twitter so popular. It’s also one of the reasons why, once people “figure it out,” they can become proficient tweeters so quickly and why so many have fallen in love with the service. Even with its stability issues, Twitter is just so easy to use.

However, Twitter’s simplicity is also one of the reasons why people don’t get it either; there’s just not much there. People have grown accustomed to cluttered, control-filled interfaces. Twitter, by comparison, is almost child-like in its simplicity. Consequently, there are a lot of features and functionality that is sorely lacking; functionality that users desperately need to make Twitter more useful to them.

Rightly or wrongly, Twitter has mostly left the development of this functionality to their growing family of third part service providers. And while Twitter has recently introduced some new features, and more are on the way, that just adds to the confusion as much of it just duplicates the features of third party services which, in turn, duplicate the features of other third party services.

But We’re Never Gonna Survive Unless, We get a Little Crazy…

The fact that users have to go searching for all this functionality in the first place is a growing sore spot. While there are several great Twitter directories that attempt to compile and organize the various services (such as the Twitter Fan Wiki and Twitdom), users still have to take the following steps before they can put any of the services to use:

  • Users must learn about these Directories
    The sad truth is that many users simply don’t know that these resources even exist, and once they ind them, which ones should they use? Twitter should add a “Resources” link to it’s pages pointing to one or more of these directories.
  • Users must comb through hundreds of entries
    Some of these directories are massive, yet offer little useful information on what the individual services do, how they work and how well they do it.
  • Users must experiment with new services
    In order for the user to learn how a service works and how to make it work best for them; users must invest significant time and effort experimenting with each one.

woman-screamingAll this is further complicated by the fact that many of these services look and work differently because Twitter does not require developers to adhere to any sort of Style Guide or standardization requirements, something that would simplify the experimentation and adoption process. At least when you use a desktop application, there is a reasonable expectation and likelihood that the app will follow certain usability conventions.

Meanwhile, as it’s becoming more common for tweeters to be following multiple hundreds, if not thousands or tens of thousands of people, users are also becoming inundated with a veritable tweet tsunami. For many, this flood of DMs, Retweets, @ Replies and just standard tweets is quickly becoming overwhelming. Add to that everything else that people have to contend with in their daily lives; from the economy to spam to taking the kids to soccer practice to email and Facebook, how can anyone expect to keep up with yet another layer of noise? At the end of the day, for an increasing number of users, there is just too much going on.

Burn Baby, Burn. Twitter Inferno

Collectively, these pressures are slowly, inexorably building. If a release is not found soon, the growing sense of Twitter Fatigue will inevitably result in a backlash that will force Twitter users to do the unthinkable; abandon Twitter for other services.

Fortunately, with the exception of Facebook which has its own user issues, no other service has the momentum that Twitter does. But momentum will only carry Twitter so far. If it is to prevent a potential mass exodus of users, Twitter needs to do a few things to restore vitality to a fatigued-user base. Among them, Twitter should:

  • Not rely on the loyalty of users
    The majority of Twitter’s users are early adopters or fast followers who have been very tolerant of Twitter’s lack of stability and features. However, as more and more late adopters join, their tolerance of Twitter Fatigue will be significantly lower. Since these users will make up the vast majority of Twitter’s user base in the near future, Twitter needs to begin taking action now in order to prevent backlash from the growing masses.
  • Require Standardization
    Twitter needs to ensure that late adopters experience the flattest learning curve possible. If Twitter continues to depend so heavily on third party services, they will need to require that these services adhere to style and usability standards and provide them with some sort of Application Interface Style and/or Usability Guide.
  • Quickly Add Additional Features
    Almost all new users begin their relationship with Twitter at Twitter.com. In order to provide these new users with the most fulfilling experience possible and thus lock them into the service before they become disgruntled and decide to leave, Twitter must add more robust features to the website. This will not only help users manage their followers, but help them manage how they follow people and the resulting tweet stream. While this may be seen as Twitter competing against their own third party developers, Twitter could minimize potential conflicts by developing partnerships with them.
  • Develop Key Partnerships
    Twitter needs to establish three types of partnerships:

    1. Partner with their Third Party Developers
      This will allow Twitter to expedite the introduction of new features in order to offer a better user experience and make their growing user base happy. It will also strengthen their developer base and hedge against the Twipocalypse.
    2. Help Third Party Developers partner amongst themselves
      This will minimize duplication of efforts and could lead to developers introducing more feature-rich services. Although risky and difficult, it could help lessen the confusion among users by cutting down on too many choices and strengthen the developers themselves.
    3. Partner with Established Companies
      These partnerships can help Twitter to both stabilize and grow its platform. After all, it’s 2009; an unstable service won’t be tolerated much longer as late adopters and laggards join in mass.

Doctor, Doctor; Give Me the News. I Got a Bad Case of Filtering You

Although this action item should be part of the above list, Advanced Filtering would do so much to improve usability that is deserves special treatment here. The reason is simple; an unfiltered stream of tweets is just not an efficient way of managing or interacting with your followers and those whom you follow. It is a raw barrage of noise assaulting the user and does little to create a meaningful experience or help to build relationships.

Applications such as Tweetdeck are a good first step, but Tweetdeck (as advanced as it is) is still a first generation tool and, considering the filtering capabilities available to consumers circa 2009, woefully inadequate, at least for my needs. Also, as more late adopters and other less savvy users join Twitter, without a major redesign, Tweetdeck will quickly reach the end of its useful lifetime. As following multiple thousands of people becomes commonplace, in its present incarnation Tweetdeck simply does not present the load in a manner that those users will be able to handle.

Ultimately, what we need is a tool with robust filtering capabilities that can simultaneously filter based on a vast range of parameters and can differentiate from subtle variations or conditions. Such a tool, especially one that can learn my interests, would not only be a major advance in the micro-blogging space, but would go a long way towards helping Twitter evolve into Twitter 2.0, not to mention being a huge opportunity. Alas, for now I would be happy if a filter could just accomplish the following:

  • Filter more parameters
    As mentioned above, although Tweetdeck is currently the most advanced tool available, it still doesn’t do enough for me. Hopefully, its next incarnation will more capable.
  • Filter out ReTweets or other duplicate tweets that you have already seen
    Whether it’s a link or just a funny comment, once I’ve seen it, I don’t need to see it again and again and again. It’s no longer relevant and takes up valuable space in my tweet stream which could be filled with new information. It should also be able to track links shortened from different services, determine if they’re the same and if I’ve already seen it.
  • Filtering specific types of content
    There are many topics that are important to people I follow, but just aren’t that important to me personally. A filter that could cut down on tweets with content that I am not interested in, but allow the senders to remain in my stream for when they send relevant content, would be a very valuable productivity improvement.
  • Filter for desired languages and character sets
    I have followers who often tweet in many other languages. While I speak some Spanish, a (very) little Hebrew and can find a bathroom in Paris, until a good translation feature becomes available, I am unfortunately not benefiting from them.
  • Threaded conversations
    A common mistake most users make (myself included) is assuming that another user will understand which tweet I may be replying to, or that my tweet is a reply at all. Threading conversations would go a long way to helping me follow discussions. Although not threaded, Tweetie for the iPhone does allow me to track back through tweets, even if I’m not following any of those involved.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Stayin’ Alive

The cold reality is that for the end user, Twitter just isn’t scaling effectively and strain is beginning to show. The service will almost certainly not survive in its present form as it is simply too cumbersome and lacking in true usability to satisfy today’s more sophisticated internet users.

To be sure, micro-blogging is here to stay. However, if Twitter is to remain the market leader, it needs to do a lot more to prepare itself for both the coming onslaught of new users and the inevitable backlash which Twitter Fatigue will usher in.

Fortunately, the Twitter team is filled with smart people. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.

Further Reading

How I Use Twitter at Volume
http://www.chrisbrogan.com/how-i-use-twitter-at-volume/

How to Follow A LOT of People on Twitter and Still be Engaging using Tweetdeck
http://www.twitip.com/how-to-follow-alot-of-people-on-twitter-and-still-be-engaging-using-tweetdeck

10 Twitter Tools to Effectively Manage Your Followers
http://www.dailyseoblog.com/2009/03/10-twitter-tools-to-effectively-manage-your-followers/

Twitter is Peaking
http://www.micropersuasion.com/2009/03/twitter-is-peaking.html

Readers Foresee Twitter’s Early Demise
http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=466&doc_id=167159

Using Twitter in the Enterprise
http://www.elsua.net/2009/02/24/using-twitter-in-the-enterprise-by-ed-yourdon/

Twitter Fatigue Tangents
http://golez.net/2009/01/26/twitter-fatigue-tangents/

Twitter Fatigue
http://www.kelandpartners.com/kelkellyblog/2008/12/14/twitter-fatigue/

Can Twitter Survive What is About to Happen to It?
http://www.twine.com/item/123c9051b-g8/can-twitter-survive-what-is-about-to-happen-to-it?cmpid=e_03182009_grp4

On the Trail of Twitter’s Tipping Point
http://www.remaincomm.com/2009/01/on-the-trail-of-the-twitter-tipping-point.html

Twitter Now Growing at a Staggering 1,382 Percent
http://mashable.com/2009/03/16/twitter-growth-rate-versus-facebook/

Email Fatigue, Overload, And How To Cope Better Than Ever
http://www.multisolutions.co.uk/index.php/small-business-it-tips/email-fatigue-overload-and-how-to-cope-better-than-ever/

The Dangers of a Twitter Tsunami
http://www.twitterrati.com/2009/03/15/the-dangers-of-a-twitter-tsunami/

OMG! Shut up about Twitter already
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29534317/

The Guide to Following Fewer People
http://www.twitterrati.com/2009/03/16/the-guide-to-following-fewer-people/

Twitter Litter most followers don’t really follow you
http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2009/03/twitter-litter-most-followers-dont-really-follow-you.html

How to form and grow your own Twitter group, for free
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10202051-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware

Friends versus Followers: Twitter’s elegant design for grouping contacts
http://andrewchenblog.com/2009/03/16/friends-versus-followers-twitters-elegant-design-for-grouping-contacts/

Comments

  • April 1, 2009

    Thanks for great post!

    I have found twitter to be an excellent resource for broadcasting messages. Every time I post to my blog I post a message on twitter about the new blog post and within seconds I get traffic to my blog. It’s wonderful!

    Twitter has also helped me build my e-mail list. It’s such a wonderful tool.

  • April 1, 2009

    This is a highly insightful article. I’m a Twitter enthusiast and love the platform, but can definitely see what you are seeing as well – a potential Twitter bubble burst. However, I do think the principles that have made Twitter great so far are firm principles, so it’s really a matter of future architects seeing changes in the community ahead of time and planning for them. I’m just glad I’m not the one in charge of seeing the future!

  • April 1, 2009

    Great comments. Twitter needs to recognize that a little control and standardization on their end will actually allow greater growth and creativity. It is how business do.

    Additionally though, it is important to caution that much innovation and variety SHOULD come from those end users and third party developers. I see Twitter as a great backend toa massive powerful system used to transmit and engage in sharing all type of information. They would do well to diversify their standards and intentions for use. This leaves room for the one thing none of us is good at on our own, deciding why we really want to keep Twitter around.

  • April 1, 2009

    I was wondering if anyone else out there had the same thoughts I do regarding the inundating tweets that are, in your words and my head, just plain noise. I wonder whether I will stay on tweeter much longer. I am only following, at this point, 94 people and am overwhelmed with tweets in my Tweetdeck.

    I find myself skimming and ‘tuning out’ certain folks.

    One good thing about all of this though, is the smart ones will really begin to understand the power of writing in short notes – titles that capture my attention.

    One final question/thought – do you find yourself skimming and reading titles and then, perhaps subconsciously dismissing tweets with no URLs?

  • April 1, 2009

    Thanks for this very good comprehensive evaluation and review. In a past “world” CB radio’s own success lead to its own demise. Lesson learned?

  • April 1, 2009

    Neal,

    I love the post but I do confess a liking to posts a bit more bite-sized. You’ve got great things to say here, and I’ll look at it later for a full read, but this is about 3 posts worth of material my friend.

    Cheers

    George

  • April 1, 2009

    Great post Neal. Keeping up with tweets while trying to work is definitely a daily challenge. I have to agree with George, though. Lots to bite off in one post. Breaking it into a series might be more helpful.

  • April 1, 2009

    Really good insightful, thoughtful post. Particularly like the song-themed headings! Some great suggestions for the future of twitter. Just a thought: why is growth automatically to be considered a good thing? I like twitter as it is, the good far outweighs the bad, & if it became mass-market it’s quality could be diluted to cater for the lower common denominator. Economic factors will probably dictate I guess

  • April 1, 2009

    Great read, I look forward to how twitter solves some of the issues you introduced. Advanced filters would be an incredible tool, and it’s what I first considered as a project when I started using twitter. The flood of other developers scared off my interest though, why write new software when I can simply wait and 4-5 other tools will do the same thing.

  • April 1, 2009

    Not intending to steal anyone thunder here, but only several hours before this post I was just sharing some of my twitter downshifting experiences here. The biggest pitfall of Twitter is the empty numbers game. If they get past this, they can apply whatever business model they want.As long as they have some real, usable value to build on.

    The biggest threat for Twitter is Twitter itself. In fact, it never was different.

  • April 1, 2009

    A very interesting article that brings up several valid points.

    It is a valid question to ask if Twitter is prepared for the tremendous growth that we see. And also the change in the pattern that we use Twitter.

    But I also ask myself are we as users of Twitter prepared for the same. We all know that when we grow, we experience some growing pain. So I am looking into how to effectively handle my own growth, and manage my growing pain. Getting a lot of followers is all fine and dandy, but if I have no idea what to do with them then I will never find any treatment for my growing pain.

    I think you raise some great points here, but twitter is Social Media Network driven by it uses (you & me), so I don’t believe we should sit on the sideline and wait until the Twitter team defines the answers for these issues. We have to shape the answers together with them.

    Cheers… :)

  • April 1, 2009

    You forgot the X-Factor, twitter loyalty. People who use twitter aren’t going to switch, even if they see downtime and failures on twitter’s part. Why? Because they view twitter as the underdog, the tortoise in the race between the tortoise and the hare. That’s what makes it interesting, watching it evolve and grow, and stumble along the way to becoming more popular than Facebook or Myspace (potentially). Good article, nicely debated points, but I think twitter is here to stay, for sure.

  • April 1, 2009

    I would have to say that Twitter Fatigue is a pretty common problem right now. As with Dragos above, I have also written a series of articles about my experience with this. I’ve also read at least 2 other posts on the same topic in the past 24 hours.

    I am trying to figure out how to deal with this without a mass unfollowing because I hope that I will occasionally catch something cool from any of the people that I follow even though they may be outside my inner circle.

    You can read about it at my Ramblings blog.

    I am really struggling with TweetDeck because I have a slow dialup connection. I cannot be connected 24/7 so even with groups I’m limited to the last 200 tweets in my timeline so if the people I want to see aren’t in the timeline, they don’t seem to show up in the group either. It will only work if TD is up and connected all the time.

  • April 1, 2009
    Anonymous Coward

    Who has the F@#$ng time?

  • April 1, 2009

    To be fair, there were cries of Twitter being a “fad” that went up months ago, at the very least; and response to it did have faddish overtones. Suddenly EVERYONE was tweeting. Some people dried up almost immediately. Some still go fairly strong. Some are following far too many.

    One of the things I’ve noticed about the celebs I follow is that they have skillions of adherents, but are following very few themselves — less than 100, most less than 50. (I only follow about 30 people myself, and I’m certainly not a celebrity.) Of that number, I suspect most are friends (IRL friends, not the casual network acquaintances so many services are quick to label “friends”). And the posts they put out are a mix of conversation and updates on whatever they’re doing (often blog posts, new books, appearances, etc.).

    In other words, they’re conversing — which is, as far as I know, pretty much all Twitter was ever intended for. It might be useful to consider following the example of folks such as Wil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman, Rainn Wilson or Thomas Dolby, then, and use the service as a means to, mostly, play.

    Those who are suggesting that Twitter “needs to do” something in order to fit THEIR ideas of what it’s for, are, I believe, missing the point entirely. If one gets on the service and immediately follows hundreds of people, and jumps into the hashtag threads with abandon, well, yes — one is going to be overwhelmed. That’s to be expected; it is not physically possible to follow the mutterings of scores of individuals. Naturally one will unfollow those whose comments are too prolific, too vitriolic, too insipid, too whatever to satisfy.

    Twitter is not a blog engine; it’s not a social-networking site a la Facebook; it’s not email; it’s not USEnet; hell, it isn’t even a maillist. It’s just a communication forum for ephemeral commentary, graffiti written in water. Attempting to turn it into something other than that will fail.

    That, however, is not a failure in Twitter; it’s a failure on the part of those seeking to turn it into something it simply is not.

  • April 1, 2009

    Great article! But, I agree and disagree.

    I agree that Twitter’s exponential grow is going to cause some users heartburn when they try following thousands of individuals, and filtering is definitely going to be a necessity.

    However, I disagree that Twitter is never going to survive as it stands “now”. I don’t use Twitter like I use email and to me there are very different beasts.

    search.twitter.com is now one of the top three search engines. To me, that means Twitter is here to stay.

  • April 1, 2009

    Great post!

    I am relatively new to the twitterverse, but can already see what you mean about eventual twitter fatigue. I’m using this primarily for my work – and at my work. So there are long periods when I’m not able to actively monitor my followers’ tweets. I do use a third-party app to help with this, but it has its limits too. Substantially more robust filtering tools would be awesome.

  • April 1, 2009
    happyseaurchin
    @happyseaurchin

    a little hyperbole is not a bad thing

    there are probably 100 independent bods creating the next generation of tweetdeck
    and we’ll see who’s first
    and whether the best of them is picked up

    be well!

  • April 1, 2009

    Now say all that in 140 characters!! Man, that’s a mamoth post. It’s fantastic though, and I read almost every word.

    The threaded tweets/conversations is an interesting idea. I wonder how it would work in practice though.

  • April 1, 2009

    What if the government is monitoring Twitter? I don’t see why they wouldn’t be… watching what you are doing and tracking where you are… and building profiles on everyone.

    Big Brother could give out traffic tickets based on what you tweet:

    http://search.twitter.com/search?q=i+ran+red+light

  • April 1, 2009

    What a great, insightful post! This makes a lot of sense with regards to where twitter is now, and where the live web is heading. I too am infiltrated with hundreds of tpm (tweets per minute), and could use some easy-to-interpret filtering and nesting of messages.

    Along with the post – thanks for the great links! Should keep me busy for a while!

  • April 1, 2009

    I think what has attributed to twitter’s growth is it’s ease of joining the very simple registration form and its learning curve which =0 it pretty much is easy to get the hang of within the first few hours of playing with it and it is quite addictive, but as the people you follow grows so comes the headache. It’s impossible to keep up with all your twitterers. I think if anything the new audience (as of two months or so ago) is much younger and hipper coming from the Fbook/Myspace crowd.

  • April 1, 2009

    Neil, nice post.

    On the issue of filtering, I’d invite you to check out Swattr (http://swattr.com), an app we built at Swarmforce for our own benefit.

    We built it using swarm AI to do most of the things you outlined in the filtering section of your post. Basically, it filters collective intelligence from Twitter using artificial intelligence.

    It’s in alpha, but I’ve already gotten to where I’m using it about 70% of the time for my Twitter client. You can group tweets by swarms (public groups of like-minded people) or private groups. The summary feature sends the top tweets in a given swarm as an email if you like. The best part is that you discover really great tweeple that you aren’t following who have common passions and interests.

    Like I said, still alpha and needs some more features, but working. Give it a try and tell me what you think @swarmforce. Right now it requires a FB connect login and Titter credentials, but we are moving to OAuth next week.

    Jason

  • April 1, 2009

    Very exhaustive post. Personally i belive its twitters simplicity that has played a key role, in making it such a useful platform. compared to scraps, pings etc, twitters architecture of DM’s, replies, which give users exceptional visibility in 140 characters, shouldn’t be tampered with.

  • April 1, 2009

    Great comment by Warren “It’s just a communication forum for ephemeral commentary, graffiti written in water.” What a wonderful summation of what Twitter was, is and should continue to be!

    The problems with Twitter are not with Twitter itself, but with our own expectations of it.

  • April 1, 2009

    Some important points in your post. I’d add that I see Twitter’s basic infrastructure under attack from the recent “follower inflation” incited by both Twitter’s own doing with the “suggested user” feature, as well as by celebrities, and crucially, recent automated rapid follow/unfollow schemes.

    I am amazed that Twitter is up at all, given that last year people were concerned about Scoble’s 50k followers/friends. Now we have dozens of celebrity users in the 100-500k range, as well as countless automation-heads with 5-50k followers in a matter of weeks. If Twitter lets this continue unabated (one would think that they could easily spot the footprints of these accounts), I don’t really see how the infrastructure can hold up.

    Beyond that, it does begin to cut into the meaningful uses of Twitter, in the ways that you describe. Filtering will be the key going forward, and you rightly point out that Tweetdeck is only a very basic first step.

  • April 1, 2009

    This its a hard theme, and its something that worry me becuase i dont realy know were its twitter going, and if its go were he are going whit all what he bring. unfortunaly we user in my case we juts have to sit and wait and dont confiden so much as we are doing on twitter.

  • April 1, 2009

    Last week I discovered Hootsuite.com. Discussions are easy to follow because they are threaded and it’s real easy to manage several Twitter accounts. I think it’s a great online-service and Twitter should get in touch with these people.

  • April 1, 2009

    I really enjoyed this post. You touched on pretty much every issue I’ve found with twitter. I especially agree with the advanced filtering and threaded conversations points. I think these are two of the major issues that should be a first concern of twitter.

    I’ve thought about these issues a number of times, that if twitter doesn’t start adding these seemingly obvious functionality updates, they will start to lost users to competitive applications once FT begins to settle in. I’ve heard on numerous occasions that people enjoy the interface of google’s Jaiku more than that of twitter.

    Twitter has introduced to the mainstream an entirely new way of communicating that has proven to be extremely valuable and effective when compared to previous methods. As you explained very well, while that gives them market dominance for now, they will have to tend to these matters quickly before the early adopters find a more efficient service to communicate.

    Dave

  • April 1, 2009

    This is an excellent article with some great insight. I think Twitter now has enough momentum to overcome any “evolutionary” issues – indeed that’s what happens with evolution, things adapt to their new environment. Twitter will change but it will change into what we want it to be as users. Facebook has already realised of late that it simply cannot change without the consent of its users. Twitter does face threats and issues as you suggest, but I suspect it will come out of this stronger than Facebook. And mobile phone companies need to worry most. Already people are using Twitter to replace SMS and when an audio version of Twitter arrives, why would you ever need to phone anyone to say “I’m on the train, home in half an hour”. The “bread and butter” of the income of the mobile phone industry is being taken away from them rapidly – and they are very slow to adapt to a new environment. I see a strong future for Twitter – at the expense of the mobile phone industry. Indeed, Twitter only needs to team up with Nokia or Motorola for a low cost phone that only receives/sends Tweets and audio tweets.

  • April 1, 2009

    Seems to me that providing a stable base platform will keep twitter busy enough as it continues to grow, but I like your idea of style guidelines and a directory of “recommended” tools that follow those rules. Clearly, more intelligent filtering is crucial if this is going to interest more than just the information-addicts for the long term. Good post.

  • April 2, 2009

    Amazing post. And great links to go with it.

    I understand where your coming from and I do believe that twitter needs to make changes to survive. The most interesting point was about how intolerant new users will be of outages and slow service, unlike the early adapters. That’s a huge problem for twitter because people who don’t get it will surely never be back if the site is down when they try it.

  • April 2, 2009

    Thanks once again for mentioning Twitdom.com in the article.

    Its highly appreciated! :)

  • April 2, 2009

    Nice post (bit lengthy) only managed to read half – will return to it later. Twitter’s main issue is that in providing a platform for rule by the masses, with its development & evolution driven by the great unwashed, we will end up with an unusable mess. I love the 2.0 ideology of the world being built by the people according to their constantly changing collective or individual whims and desires. Sad fact is though, we need rules. We need to be controlled. Anarchy = Destruction (ultimately)

    BTW — good to see the correct spelling of Neal :-)

    cheers,
    Neal

  • April 3, 2009

    Number one reason I’m not big into Twitter: If I have to go looking for other applications to successfully use an application, well, that’s just absurd and I don’t have the time or the inclination. I don’t have to use any other applications to use Facebook. I may choose to use other applications on Facebook, but if I do absolutely nothing but what’s already there to do, it works just fine and I enjoy it.

    When Twitter fully integrates – on the Twitter site itself – some of these things I hear people use, then maybe I’ll be more interested.

  • April 3, 2009

    I disagree with your argumentation. If you are displeased with your own usage and experience of and with a free service like twitter, please be professional enough to refrain from projecting your personal problems on the service. Automatic failure ensues trying to apply relations to external additional periferal 3rd party twitter apps and their proponents and/or PR/Marketing idiots rants on twitter trends. On twitter you chose whom to follow or drop. Twitter is not mail so drop that comparison too. If you are having propems coping, chance is that YOU are doing it wrong. Twitter is currently a service AND a company. Not necessarily so for all time. See my comments on Dave Winer’s post http://www.scripting.com/stories/2009/04/02/thereMustBeSomeWayOutOfHer.html for my stance.

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