Analysis of microblogging pioneer Twitter.

April 25, 2008

Twitter is indeed replaceable

Dennis Howlett believes any hope of monetizing [Twitter] rests upon reliability at scale. He’s partially right. Michael Arrington disagrees, essentially asserting that Twitter has become an unshakable monopoly due to the network effect, but his reasoning is flawed. Read more

February 15, 2008

Six blind men and the Twitter elephant

I got a long email today from a Very Smart Person who asked, in effect “What is Twitter for? I don’t get it.” Coincidentally, Rex Hammock posted a good answer yesterday, albeit with a bad title that I won’t repeat. The essence was:

… the most amazing thing about Twitter is this: everyone uses it differently.

It’s a little like trying to explain the telephone by describing what people talk about on the phone. “Telephones are devices that teenagers use to spread gossip.” “Telephones are the devices people use to contact police when bad things happen.” “Telephones are the devices you use to call the 7-11 to ask if they have Prince Albert in a can.”

Like the Internet itself, Twitter is hard to explain because it doesn’t really have a point. And it has too many points. Here’s what I mean: All it does is provide a common-place to relay short messages to a group of people who agree to receive your messages. Here’s the second part of what i mean: When you stop thinking those short messages aren’t limited to “I’m about to get on the elevator” but can be eye-witness accounts of breaking news stories or bursts of business-critical intelligence, or warnings that a gun-man is loose on campus, or shared conversations about political debates you and your friends are watching on TV, the possibilities of what can be done using Twitter becomes amazingly confusing — I think in a good way.

I’ve recently put up two posts on Twitter use cases. For yet another — well, as Shakespeare didn’t quite say, a 140 character limit is the soul of wit. Here’s my (ever-changing) list of Twitter “favorites”. The humor ranges from the sophomoric to the erudite; there are some serious aphorisms as well.

February 13, 2008

More Twitter use cases

Monday, I posted about four Enterprise Twitter use cases. Episteme responds that that’s all well and good, but what’s really important is that Enterprise Twitter would lead senior management to communicate in a human way with the team. I agree completely, and think this is one of the big reasons Enterprise Twitter could be an improvement over email for many uses.

That post also illustrates a use of public Twitter. Read more

February 11, 2008

Enterprise Twitter

My long discussion Saturday of how to evolve (or replace) Twitter included a short discussion of what might be called Enterprise Twitter. Dennis Howlett just alerted me that there’s been considerable other discussion of the subject recently. For example:

Here’s my take on the subject.

I see four basic (and somewhat overlapping) use cases for Enterprise Twitter:

Read more

February 9, 2008

The comprehensive guide to upgrading – or replacing – Twitter

Twitter is a rather new communications service, wildly popular in the technology blogging and podcasting communities. There are close to a million registered accounts or users, but I’d guess the active users number in the low-mid five figures. Even at that low usage, Twitter is on overload, plagued with outages and data loss.

Scaling Twitter is a huge challenge. Doing so will involve changing just about every aspect of what Twitter is. A number of commentators have suggested lesser fixes, but none that I’ve seen is apt to work. (Generally, they forget that UI options will need to change as usage grows.) However, I think I’ve come up with an approach that would indeed work, for:

The sections below cover:

Read more

February 5, 2008

Sturgeon’s Law, and the future technology of social technology

Social technology has been hugely important to me since 1991. I met Linda on a Prodigy bulletin board. Blogging is crucial to my business. Mailing lists have led Linda and me to two vacations, most of our computer gaming, multiple TV shows (especially Buffy/Angel), and a whole lot of books. I find LinkedIn useful at times, and for the past few weeks I’ve been Twittering up a storm. My love life, work, and entertainment all are rooted in technology that gets people communicating with each other.

I’m not just saying that for street cred. My experiences also illustrate two important points – people use many different kinds of social technology, and social technology is very important to them. When you feel or hear negatives about MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blog reading or whatever – those are indictments of particular services or technologies, not of online social networking in general. Read more

January 28, 2008

Forrester says 2008 is the year of enterprise social software

We all know how “The Year of X” kinds of predictions go. Still, when I read that Forrester Research says enterprises are ready to seriously adopt wikis and message forums, it made sense to me. Email threads — via Notes/Exchange or otherwise — aren’t doing the job any more. It’s time to go straight to communally-created web pages.

Personally, I think it’s also time to further replace email disasters, by having broadcasts over something like an enterprise version of Twitter. Clearly, enterprise Twitter would have to have a lot more tagging, group filtering, and automated censorship — ::sigh:: — than current public Twitter. But that all fits very well into the CEP-based architecture (or some near equivalent) that I believe to be the future of Twitter anyway. So would a complete integration between enterprise Twitter and point-to-point enterprise instant messaging.

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