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click opera - The case against — and for — Twitter
February 2010
Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 10:18 am
The case against — and for — Twitter

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Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 09:45 am (UTC)

I think the problem with Twitter isn't necessarily even a problem with Twitter. It's a problem with all of the media types who're so quick to call it a game changing online revolution. The only thing that seems to be keeping Twitter intact is a hardcore group of early devotees, and then the rabble who have joined up recently in order to follow the celebrities who've taken a temporary interest in the service. Everything about it screams "trend," which is why I'm waiting to see which idiotic web powerhouse buys it for some inflated price, only to see it flop a few years later.

Tumblr, on the other hand, actually seems to have a lot more flexibility. You can build your own design from the ground up with CSS/HTML, a capability which most other blog services will charge you for, if they even offer it at all. It makes simple everything you ever wanted made simple by a blog service (i.e. posting pictures, videos, songs, etc). You can also send updates via SMS/email, if you prefer to run a Twitter-like thing. And you can create your own Tumblr RSS-style feed by "following" other users.

In the end, Twitter only has one thing, and that one thing is going to get old really quickly. Facebook and Tumblr have tons of functionality, and they're only adding more as time goes on. This isn't to say that Twitter couldn't add new functionality in the future, but they've already made their entire brand the 140-character "tweet." Not a very robust foundation from which to branch out, service-wise. And if they don't add new functionality, the gimmick is eventually going to wear off. I think the hardcore Twitter community would remain, but you obviously have a lot of people dipping their toes in these days, hoping that the thing will prove to be more than a gimmick, and actually branch out into other territories.

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC)

all of the media types who're so quick to call it a game changing online revolution

After I've finished penning "Is Twitter tweeting in a new Golden Age of Aphorism" for the New Yorker I will commence a spoof for The Onion about a new service called FlashInThePan®:

"Move all your content over to FlashInThePan® and see it flash daily into the minds of millions of FlashInThePan® users! See them pan it! Then panic as the service goes out of fashion and gets sold to 97 year-old demon Rupert Murdoch, leaving a little puff of smoke and a few gritty cinders of your content, stubbornly clinging to the empty pan!"

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Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)


And see, I'm not the luddite type at all. I barely use Facebook (I check it maybe once a week), but I have an account and I actually see some real use value in it. I appreciate being connected to my friends, especially those I fell out of touch with after high school/college, and now that I live in South Korea, it's an easy way to see what people are up to, and to let people in on what I'm up to, as well as find groups of people doing interesting stuff in my city. I'm not crazy about Facebook by any means, but it is nice to have available.

Twitter, on the other hand, would have absolutely no use value for me. I think Tumblr finds a happy medium between Twitter--which is a buzzkill if you ever have a thought that runs over 140 characters--and most major blogging services--which give you clunky layouts and options, and then make them a pain the ass to use/customize. With Tumblr, I actually feel like posting because using the service isn't a pain the ass. I can make it look how I want. I can post a picture without having to make sure the pixel width is perfect. And the community features are just present enough to be pleasing without forcing you to invite interaction on your own blog (commenting isn't packaged with the service, though you can sign up for and add commenting code to your blog if you please).

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