Adrian Short: What makes Twitter Twitter?


Adrian Short’s article — What makes Twitter Twitter? — is what I was about to comment on the same matter, but written so much better than I could possibly have. Any part of it is quotable, and I urge you to read all of it. (If Twitter matters to you as it matters to me and Adrian, of course.)

I’ll choose this bit:

The upshot of Twitter’s announcement is that it will be “introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used”. I read this as saying that while independent developers have recently been discouraged from producing basic timeline apps, now they’ll be actively obstructed.

Why? In the name of “consistency”.

Now I might be in a small minority but I’ve sent over 15,000 tweets and I’ve never heard anyone raise even the mildest concern that their Twitter experience isn’t consistent. Consistent with what? Consistent with the new “interactive experiences” that Twitter is building into the platform which will presumably only be effectively supported by its own client apps.

What a racket. Move the goalposts and send everyone home for missing the target.

I’ve been on the web since the mid-1990s and Twitter for me has been by far the most interesting, fun and sociable experience I’ve found online. As a freelancer I do most of my business through it too.

It’s hard to put a value on that. Twitter made the best social website ever. That’s something very special. Something worth understanding. Something worth preserving.

The ‘Twitter announcement’ we’re talking about is this: Delivering a consistent Twitter experience.

By the way, as I recently tweeted (heh) I would gladly stick to Twitter’s official clients for Mac and iOS (the platforms I use), if they weren’t such lacking applications. I’ve used and tried many third-party clients, and they’re simply better. More feature-rich, better designed, better built. Just as an example, the official Twitter client for Mac OS X hasn’t received a worthy update since the opening of the Mac App Store (January 2011, a year and a half ago). They didn’t even update it recently to display Twitter’s redesigned logo. And speaking of lacking features, it is probably the only Twitter client that doesn’t let you choose to see real people’s names instead of their Twitter usernames. Even Tweetie — the original client it’s built upon — is better.

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