Home > Archive >  2009 >  April >  14

Twitter is at least a dress rehearsal

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Au bon pain -- Harvard SqI read Farhad Manjoo's piece in Slate about Twitter. It's the best of a class of commentary that says that Twitter is something you can skip if you aren't interested in periodic 140-character reports on mundane people's lives. As I read the piece it made sense, so I was left wondering why I was and still am attracted to Twitter and use it, daily. Permalink to this paragraph

When I took a picture of the shark tank at the NY Aquarium, or the Cyclone at Coney Island or the traffic on the Belt Parkway, I had a background script on my server that automatically published a pointer to each picture to Twitter. I feel the pictures are more interesting because people see them while I'm still there. It's a very small window into my mundane life. I post them not because I think anyone cares about my life, rather because I want to see what ideas it gives me for next steps.  Permalink to this paragraph

In a way, as a user of Twitter, I have the same business model as the investors in Twitter. I don't know what it is, but I have a feeling there's something here. I look at it this way, if you tried to tell me what we're doing on Twitter has nothing to do with what we'll be doing with networks in the future, I'd be 100 percent sure you were wrong. There's something here. The challenge is to figure out what it is.  Permalink to this paragraph

However increasingly I'm sure that Twitter itself is not it.  Permalink to this paragraph

If it were, by now we'd see one killer app built on Twitter that was as game-changing as Twitter itself, if not more so. I think this is because they have put limits on what developers can do, trying to save the good stuff for themselves. The danger in doing that is that you leave nothing juicy for developers. And you leave the door open for a competitor who will take advantage.  Permalink to this paragraph

Things I'd like to see -- unlimited, open architecture metadata hanging off the 140-character messages, payloads for Twitter. And open access to the firehose by anyone who wants to develop on it. Both these things would guarantee Twitter, Inc. a role in the future. Without giving up control of both, they leave opportunities for others and make it more likely they will be a stepping-stone. Permalink to this paragraph

BTW, I was able to finish this post on my 1000HE on the Jetblue flight while it was waiting at the gate. The free wifi from the terminal is strong enough to be accessible on the plane. It's amazing how quickly you can write when you're under deadline! ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Early-on I compared Twitter to a coral reef. I think the analogy is more apt than ever. Permalink to this paragraph

Update: An example of a competitor completing the promise of a disrupter: Netscape's browser was only sort-of free. They looked the other way when people downloaded it without paying for it. When Microsoft came out with their browser it was totally free. Netscape's complaint that this was unfair rang hollow. 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.

© Copyright 1994-2009 Dave Winer Mailto icon.

Last update: 4/14/2009; 11:33:06 AM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

Click here to view blogs commenting on  RSS 2.0 feed.