Image by luc legay via FlickrTwitter is real time search. That is its functionality.
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Facebook is more about space, the human space, the "social graph," as the Facebook people call it.
The next Twitter does not only text and links and photos but also video. And that might be a hardware and connectivity challenge more than a Twitter challenge. But it is only a matter of time before that video part also seeps in. But I don't wish to emphasize that too much. Text and links are enough for the most part. Photos are a plus, but not all that essential.
The next Twitter is not necessarily richer features, it is a Twitter that has 10 times more users and so is more useful to the existing users. An internet with more computers linked in is more useful. A Twitter with many more users will be more useful. A few Twitter users in every town on earth, and we will really have tipped the scale.
And it can't just be about real time search. The search functionality will have to get much better. Users should be able to dig into the archives and make sense. So Twitter can't be just about real time search, rather it has to be about snapshots in time and space.
Facebook will benefit from switching to real time status updates, but it will make a mistake in thinking it is competing with Twitter. They inhabit two quite separate spaces. The biggest lesson Facebook could learn right now is that just like to the Eskimo there are many different kinds of snow, there are many different kinds of friends. There are family, relatives, close friends, classmates, colleagues, acquaintances. Right now Facebook is at the one snow level of sophistication. And that is not good enough. Inner circle interaction should feel different from outer circle interaction. Facebook is not there yet.
How about adding a Hello function to Facebook which would be like the Follow function on Twitter? I can follow anyone I want on Twitter. On Facebook if we are not friends we are not friends, but I think I should be able to say hello to anyone I want to say hello to. They should see I said hello, and they should have the option to check out my profile, maybe they want to say hello as well. And maybe we talk. And decide to become friends down the line.