There’s been a lot written over the past few months about Twitter being a total dick by cutting off it’s old API, killing off third party developers, and “sunsetting” the Twitter for Mac app. It feels like Twitter is out to get us geeks, who were the early adopters of this platform. We feel that we gave Twitter the content that attracted the mass of users it is now using to grow, a growth they feel necessitates cutting off the experience we all have come to enjoy.
I’m under no delusions that they owe us anything; Dan and Marco discussed this recently on their podcast. However, I do feel that they are being dishonourable, a sentiment I believe is being felt by most geeks on Twitter.
So what now? Well, Paul Graham discusses early adopters of communucations technologies in his book, Hackers and Painters. I can’t find the exact quote right now, but his thesis Is that communications technology is adopted by specialists first, then hobbyists, then by the mass public. His example was the rudimentary telephone.
I think this is what we’re seeing with Twitter; at first, only nerds in Silicon Valley used the service. Then we nerds adopted it, and now, it’s filled with Beliebers. I think that’s just the way things go.
Sure, Twitter doesn’t need to be such a dick, but that’s the decision that they’re making as a business (we just happen to think it’s a bad one). Whatever.
If there really is a demand for a “new Twitter”, we’ll make one, because we are the specialists and the hobbyists. We will be the first to leave and go somewhere new that might be what we’re looking for. Maybe.
Twitter isn’t going anywhere, and that’s OK. It has a mass-market audience and no longer needs us. That’s fine. We’ll migrate somewhere new over time, and with time, the mass-market may move with us.
Let’s take a look at my completely self-serving example of photographers: Flickr once dominated the online photo-sharing market but recently, 500px (my employer), is the complete new hawtness. Lots of people still use Flickr and it’s be no means dead, but the specialists (pro photographers) and the hobbyists (amateurs like myself) are using 500px because it serves our needs better. Flick is still around because people use it to upload their ten thousand shitty vacation shots. I know what service I’d rather use, and I know which company I’d rather work for.
So that’s it. Twitter, for us, is dying. If there is sufficient demand, something will come along to fill the void it is leaving in our lives. I don’t think Twitter will die, but I don’t think that means a competing service won’t flourish; we can all be happy there for a few years before the rest of the world ruins it for us, again.