The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 11:33:21 AM on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
I have started to notice a recent trend in Twitter activity and communication.  While we, as early adopters (no matter what we all think we really are), use it on a daily basis as a knowledge engine and constant hose of information.  Many of the new followers and even comments I saw flow past have moved it back into a chat client.  The amount of information you can easily search is dropping as people begin to have private messaging conversations using directs, of course.

The only thing missing for that to take off in a wider arena is the idea of group private directs, much like a Skype, Google or AIM chat group would be.  All of you sit in one channel and have an open, multi-private conversation that is removed from the public stream.  Retweeting is then not necessary as you have already shared it appropriately.  This would be an excellent feature on one side of the argument , but would further fragment conversations that Twitter has moved back into the mainstream for all eyes.  Even someone that protects their stream can have it viewed using a simply call that was recently exposed in a Valleywag article I read.

So what does this due to an already fragile system that had exponential growth, then leveled and now as press heats up grows again?  It means that this becomes yet another chat client that has no downloadable client.  Think about it.  There is no current monitization from Twitter and with no client that they produce and can wrap advertisements around, they have to find other means.  People are beginning to write numerous clients, some with ads showing up recently (to supposedly pay for the development).  If the 3rd party developers can monitize and include features that draw you from the main Twitter channels, then the social value of using the service starts a downhill run.

How often do you backchannel on Twitter?  Lets have a backchannel conversation about it.

  • 1) Twitter is moving from open channel to back channel
    Created by The Turtle at 10/29/2008 1:13:43 PM email | website

    Actually, there are bunches of downloadable clients, and at least one (NatsuLion on the Mac) supports a sort of "conversation" mode in its most recent release. I myself consider extended dm discussions to be counter to what Twitter is for: put words out there, and yes, your friends will see them, but so can anyone else, and jump in or comment as needed.

  • 2) Twitter is moving from open channel to back channel
    Created by Dave T at 10/30/2008 10:13:09 AM email |

    Ultimately, it's the aggregate data that could be the gold mine for Twitter, and it's what will keep them growing. Even the back channel stuff goes through Twitter, so for them at least, it may be a wash vs losing data to the backchannel (they *are* the channel after all). The marketing folks would love to know what everyone is *really* thinking, and doing... instant trend-spotting, etc. The more people that use it, the more/better data, the more monetary growth, the bigger Twitter gets... repeat until such time as Twitter isn't cool then sell the whole thing to Time Warner :)

    Then again, if I was that smart, I would have invented Twitter... who would have thought that a silly little 140-character micro-blogging tool would become the information outlet for presidential candidates, newspapers, corporate customer service orgs... wow.

  • 3) re: Twitter is moving from open channel to back channel
    Created by Chris Miller at 10/31/2008 1:24:41 PM email | website

    @Turtle - exactly, but it seems most of the traffic is moving towards DM's, almost as a chat service with a definite amount of short text you must cram stuff into. Everyone hates writing more than one.

    @Dave - exactly, the hidden content is the king I think and we don't see it. And could Twitter monetize on it? Sure. They know the real content with Summize in the mix. So why didn't you think of it by the way?

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