Checking in on Twitter

Lots of good, spot-on assessments this weekend of what is happening to Twitter:

  • Dalton Caldwell's deconstruction of the subtext of Twitter's appointment of a new board director - both the fact of that appointment and how the new board member, a Twitter novice, communicated the news.
  • Marco Arment's report on how Twitter appears to be implementing its new rules for independent developers. He refers to an incident where Twitter shut down development of a Twitter client for a platform on which Twitter has yet to have a footprint.
  • A tweet thread in which the amazing futurist Charles Stross articulates, succinctly, the public commons dilemma we now face as a society, as Twitter the corporation asserts proprietary control over what Tweeters the unincorporated have created for it.

My own views on Twitter's import are clear enough: the Gates Foundation should have purchased it years ago, and should be running it now as a public utility for the entire world.

Twitter Republic

But I'm feeling less critical of Twitter today then I have in months past. It has a renewed vibrancy - my followeds and more continue to tweet well - even as the platform becomes more cluttered with unwanted features and even as advertising further encroaches on what should be user-curated territory (that is, the individual's tweetstream of follows).

Two things in particular I like about how Twitter has changed recently:

  • Twitter cards. I love them. Little summaries of links, nestled into candy boxes not a thumb press away.
  • Threaded conversations. Somehow, it seems like it's getting easier to access additional tweets related to a given conversation. And it's getting easier to isolate threads that fork off from a given tweet. (It just feels this way to me; I haven't logged the changes as they've happened.)

If Twitter implodes like MySpace did, or if Twitter wrests away from tweeters control over their feeds (as I'm givento understand Facebook has done), then we all really will begin migrating off Twitter. But Twitter today yet has vigor. And, if these are the end times for an authentic Twitter, that epoch will have modeled useful new features others will be able to adopt or adapt.

Photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.


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