Image via CrunchBase2009 was Twitter's year, no doubt. But towards the end of 2009 Twitter's growth had plateaued. What could Twitter do to reach the masses and end up with hundreds of millions of people using the service? Simplify, simplify, simplify. Right now it is so easy to get lost in the service when you are a new user. You first start out by not believing something worthwhile can be said in 140 characters. That is too brief. You may be do not desire to share with the world what you had for lunch. You might not know who to follow. The people you personally know are not necessarily the people with the most interesting tweets. What's a tweet anyway?
Twitter has to evolve as a service. A stangnant basic service that is hoping to only scale will not cut it. Twitter at once will have to become feature rich and simpler. The biggest bottleneck to Twitter's growth has been how primitive the search function at the site is. I can't even get it to deliver to me tweets I posted several months ago. And all those tweets reside on Twitter's servers.
Twitter necessarily has to grow and eat into its ecosystem. That is how Windows grew. New, exciting, independent software programs found themselves eaten up in the next version of Windows. The Sun engulfed the nearby planets and grew.
Before they introduced the lists feature, Twitter had become unmanageable for me. The retweet feature I like, but I can see why it has generated much controversy. One big reason is the old way you could edit the tweet before retweeting it. To that I say, you can still choose to do it the old way.
Image via WikipediaBut I have to keep coming back to search. Bing and Google are not doing it. When I first went to Bing's Twitter page weeks ago, I saw the mistake they were making. They were basically using Twitter to collect votes for the hottest news articles for that day. That is only one of many uses of Twitter. And I think Google News does a much better job of bringing me the news for the day. And it is not true Google is doing real time search now. Just because you display a few tweets on the topic I just conducted a search on does not quite cut it.
My Twitter account has to be the starting point for my Twitter experience. And one thing could add to that experience more than any other: the ability to search all tweets that might have ever been posted. I should not have to use Delicio.us. I should be able to store all links of interest to me right there on Twitter, and I used to do that. Then Twitter stopped delivering.
Just like PageRank is not going to be enough for Google, just like Google is going to have to make sense of webpages in their own right to see how much value they have, Twitter search is going to be able to read tweets, and make sense of a large number of tweets with the same keywords to give me a feel for what the masses are thinking and feeling. Right now I don't have that. Show me on one screen what the masses are saying in a million tweets. Where is that search and display function?
But real time is not just for now. Real time archives are also valuable. Tell me how Obama supporters felt about Obama in the summer of 2008. Collect all the tweets on the topic and make sense of them all for me.
Money talks, and Twitter does not have enough of it to truly get ambitious as a basic feature of the web experience. I still think Twitter should go for an IPO so it will have a billion dollars to become what email would be if it were designed today. Maybe it will not be Wave, it will be Twitter. It still can be.
Twitter has had a scalability problem because it has not had 300 million dollars to pour into its infrastructure. Twitter has to be always on if it can be part of the basic infrastructure of our web experience.
Image via Wikipedia
If email were invented today, it would not have a subject line. I would not need your email address to be able to send you an email. The email would always be short. I should be able to read a million such emails in less than a minute. A celebrity should not feel overwhelmed by all the emails she gets because the search feature is so good. Because Twitter makes sense of a million tweets on the same topic in as much time as Google takes to deliver search results. Well, Twitter does not, not now.
And Twitter DM is a joke. You have so little control over it. I get so much spam, I stopped reading DMs months ago.
The Twitter trending topics list is so feature poor, it is not even funny. I should be able to do time travel with that list. I should be able to do topics, and sub topics, and sub sub topics with that list. I should be able to have a trending topics list based only on my followers. The trending topics list needs to be a full blown creature.
Twitter today is not all it can be. If Twitter is going to end up with a billion users, it is not going to be the Twitter that we know today.
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