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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Don’t ignore the Twitter user contracts

On the Friday Gillmor Gang, we discussed a decentralized Twitter.  It was both constructive and sometimes contentious.

Chris Saad discussed his idea (GetPingd) — an interesting approach that got short shrift on the call.  Bob Lee had some idea on how to do more with Jabber.

A couple more things (some of which I articulated on the call).

Twitter is not micro-blogging.  It can be used for micro-blogging, but it is a different animal completely.  It isn’t instant-messaging either, though it is used for that a lot.  As a result, if you are trying to improve it — or replace it — don’t try to force it into these other paradigms.  

Why do I say this isn’t just micro-blogging or IM?  Look at the user contracts:

  • Blogging has a simple Subscribe/Unsubscribe contract.  Twitter has block / track / direct messages (and soon filter).
  • IM generally has a friend approval mechanism to receive IM’s.  That is if you want updates from me through IM, I have to say it is OK.  Twitter allows this “private updates” feature, but the default is open.

Don’t try to architect a better Twitter by ignoring these contracts — your service will fail.

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