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Twitter heading off editorial cliff?

Friday, June 19, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Great piece yesterday in CNET about how Twitter is no longer young. Paradoxically true and a must-read. Permalink to this paragraph

Jesse Stay has an interesting piece on how Twitter is going after people who game Twitter to get more followers. It's a good piece, well worth reading carefully and understanding. And I support what Twitter is doing. But... Permalink to this paragraph

The problem is that Twitter is the worst offender here with the Suggested User List.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named graph.gifI'm watching a NY Times columnist, who was added to the list last week, leapfrog his competition. It changed the way he posts. (He openly says that, he may have been joking, but you should watch those jokes, they usually reveal some truth, that's why they're funny.) Permalink to this paragraph

Twitter is starting to make a difference in the world of professional poker. They put one of the competitors on the SUL, now he has 329K followers. Permalink to this paragraph

NY Times: "A writer with an interest in comic books can become the expert on comic books." Permalink to this paragraph

How long before the professional gamers privately start paying people who are on the SUL to point to them? (My guess is that it has already happened.) Permalink to this paragraph

What are the editorial guidelines for people on the SUL? Permalink to this paragraph

And why would Twitter want to enter this space? And are they ready to take an editorial interest in the people who use their system. This is why lines exist in journalism, to keep the publishing interests from having to worry about the editorial interests. Inevitably, the lines get crossed, you can't avoid it, but you try to avoid it. Twitter made a huge mistake by crossing the line with such gusto. Now you can see them approaching the contradiction. They want to stop users from doing what they themselves do so much better. Can't make that work very much longer.  Permalink to this paragraph

Net-net: They will eventually have to publish guidelines for SUL members. Watch for a rebellion from those now very powerful people, who will neither want to give up their power nor submit to guidelines from Twitter.  Permalink to this paragraph

This subject came up earlier this week when @anamariecox admitted that the White House treats her with new deference because she has 650K followers. A couple of months ago she had 3K. So the change is significiant and clearly due to the gift from Twitter. Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Getting real, we know they already have implicit editorial guidelines for the SUL. It's why people like me, who are unpredictable, will never get on the list. They don't know what I'm going to say, and they might not want to stand behind me. That's the problem, because they don't know what anyone else will say either. Sooner or later someone who they propelled to the top will do something bad. It has to happen. And that's why they needed a really strong separation between the platform and the content, and the problem, for them and the platform, is they have no separation at all. A major oil spill is inevitable.  Permalink to this paragraph

Update: ZachsMind says "you're just hurting my head." We used to call those "mind bombs."  Permalink to this paragraph

8/26/00: "What's a Mind Bomb? An idea that's so strange or powerful that it explodes in your mind. And that's a good thing!" Permalink to this paragraph

Question to professional reporters: If your publication is on the SUL, or were on the SUL, would you submit to editorial guidelines from Twitter, Inc? Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, 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.


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Last update: 6/19/2009; 5:50:45 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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