(I’ve been horrible at keeping up with a blogging routine lately, but that’s a subject for a later post.) I was recently asked over email what I thought could be a potential “Twitter killer” as well as an interesting way Twitter is being used. Thought I’d share my off-the-top-of-my-head response:
Potential Twitter killer:
Lack of community
Twitter as a company has stated in the past that they view themselves as a “communications utility” and not a community. This is an unfortunate and potentially poisonous viewpoint to try and maintain. My guess is that Twitter wanted to view themselves as a utility to further propagate the idea that they want to scale to a huge size. Again, this is unfortunate as Flickr is a prime example of a massive web service that is known for scaling not only their web framework but their community as well. Flickr has proven over time that it can maintain a sense of community at a large scale (remember, they serve about 35,000 photos a *second*) by truly thinking about every user experience despite it sometimes making their heads hurt. Basic psychology shows that people connect more positively and interact more when they share common things with a group. If Twitter gets its wish and there is no longer a sense of community, then what motivation do users have to connect via Twitter than any other utility or service? Twitter works because the people you care about are into it, not because it’s really necessary for your boss to know what you had for lunch on a public webpage.
Interesting way people are using Twitter:
Location Based Interaction and Dating
Typically when people talk about interesting ways Twitter is being used, it’s on this grandiose scale of “look how my business is profiting from being social and spreading awareness”. Ok, that’s already been done, boring. When you live in the same city as others that you have mutual connections with on Twitter, it’s a great platform for spontaneous meetups, dates, and occasionally meeting new people. The new form of dating is almost this passive, cheesy situation like yawning to put your arm around someone during a movie. The first ping involves someone saying something like they’re hungry, the returning pong suggest a location, and before you know it, there’s a rallying ping pong of Twitter replies to make an IRL (in real life) event happen.