Home > Archive >  2008 >  February >  28

Guidelines for competing with Twitter

Thursday, February 28, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named twittybeerd.gifEvery time Twitter goes down I think of how can we create something to use when Twitter is down. Permalink to this paragraph

There's a difference these days, because there's serious talk among developers about whether or how to compete. Earlier this week at lunch with one of them, I said I didn't know how great the opportunity was, given that Twitter has been staying up, through heavy use during the debates and primaries. Then, as if on call, it started going down. In the last 24 hours it's been down more than up, or so it seems.  Permalink to this paragraph

And of course that has re-kindled the back-channel. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

Some guidelines for potential Twitter-competitors. Permalink to this paragraph

1. I don't like names with the word "killer" in it -- even in private. It's the wrong idea. No one will kill anyone. And names you use in private have a way of leaking out in public.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. Don't use the term crowdsourcing -- it betrays a perspective that's arrogant and wrong. I am not part of a crowd, I am a creative important person. Most Silicon Valley companies have this attitude. It's a good vector for competing. Our users are sentient human beings, individuals. Important not just as a collection of people. Permalink to this paragraph

3. Most important, any service meant to compete with Twitter must be 100 percent compatible with the Twitter API. Porting of apps that build on Twitter means making the domain an option, where you call twitter.com it must be possible to change it to mytwitterclone.com, for example. Permalink to this paragraph

4. It must be possible to use your clone when Twitter goes down and then switch back to Twitter when it comes back up with no loss of data. If you want smoothe entry into the market you must serve as a backup, earn your place with the users. Everyone will love you because it gives Twitter a very real concrete incentive to become more reliable. Permalink to this paragraph

5. To everyone, twitter.com included -- this is a utility like email or IM. Reliability is key. If it's going to be used in business (very powerful idea) then auditability is essential. To assume that users love the product is not a good idea, any emotional connection becomes a negative if you can't keep the system up.  Permalink to this paragraph


Recent stories:

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

Dave Winer Mailto icon

My most recent trivia on Twitter.

I'm a California voter for Obama.

© Copyright 1994-2008 Dave Winer Mailto icon.

Last update: 10/20/2008; 8:22:33 AM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

Click here to view blogs commenting on  RSS 2.0 feed.