The point of Twitter

09 December 2011

John Gruber on the new Twitter iPhone app:

What also worries me is that these changes suggest not only a difference in opinion regarding how a Twitter client should work, but also regarding just what the point is of Twitter as a service. The Twitter service I signed up for is one where people tweet 140-character posts, you follow those people whose tweets you tend to enjoy, and that’s it. The Twitter service this new UI presents is about a whole lot more — mass-market spoonfed “trending topics” and sponsored content. It’s trying to make Twitter work for people who don’t see the appeal of what Twitter was supposed to be.

Yes, that. It increasingly turns out that the Twitter I signed up for – the Twitter in my head, as it were – is the MVP of something else. And now, the MVP is fading away and the something else is taking over. Which is fine for acquiring new users – after all, by and large, it’s a given that most people don’t use your product. But my mental model is stuck around five years ago, when I signed up.

I signed up for this product because it made mass-texting people when I was in town easy, and led to lots of serendipitous drinking and hanging out when I was in the city. On the radio last year, I heard someone explain Twitter as “a tool for following famous people and seeing what they’re up to“. It’s interesting how the product described in the new app feels like the product described by that radio pundit: a consumption tool.

For me, it was always about the permanent backchannel with my friends. I guess I’m looking for a new mobile client now.

4 comments on this entry to date.

  • 9 Dec 2011
    dwlt said... 1

    I can recommend Tweetbot – and all the TapBots apps, in fact.

  • 9 Dec 2011
    Peter Parkes said... 2

    It increasingly turns out that the Twitter I signed up for – the Twitter in my head, as it were – is the MVP of something else.

    This nicely summarises my view too – but let’s be thankful that the API allows the continued existence of third-party clients alongside the Twitter-provided UI. I’m a big fan of Twitteriffic.

  • 9 Dec 2011
    Jim Brayton (@jimbrayton) said... 3

    Agreed. I really like Tweetbot. It has some shortcuts that take a few minutes to get used to, but after that it feels very natural and quick.

  • 9 Dec 2011
    David said... 4

    “For me, it was always about the permanent backchannel with my friends. I guess I’m looking for a new mobile client now.”

    Aye.

Similar posts to this one

My links and notes for this day