Twitter used to be a sort of surrogate newsroom/barroom where you could organize around ideas with people whose opinions you wanted to assess. Maybe you wouldn't agree with everybody, but that was part of the fun. But at some point Twitter narratives started to look the same. The crowd became predictable, and not in a good way. Too much of Twitter was cruel and petty and fake. Everything we know from experience about social publishing platforms—about any publishing platforms—is that they change. And it can be hard to track the interplay between design changes and behavioral ones. In other words, did Twitter change Twitter, or did we?
In the last couple days we've read a lot of negative press about Twitter. Mainly this came from the financial press and analysts who seemed to hate or at least be surprised by their Q1 earnings and growth numbers.
The above "eulogy," by the Atlantic's Adrienne Lafrance and Robinson Meyer, has stood out among all the negativity, however, mainly because it felt so familiar.
Four years ago, nearly to the day, I wrote "Down and Out in the Twitter Ecosystem" due to some platform policy changes I thought would squash the vibrancy of the Twitter I loved – the same vibrancy it seems Adrienne and Robinson are eulogizing.
While back then I was writing about the developer ecosystem's effects on a user's Twitter experiences, changes in the developer and the user base have always had the same net effect: deprecation of parts of the Twitter experience you love, only to be replaced by a new Twitter experience you learn to love.
But Twitter is an amazing force, now more than ever, and what I ultimately concluded in 2010 holds even more true today:
Okay. So maybe I'm crazy and hyperbolic. Maybe Twitter will be a $20B company one day... Twitter got away with what they're up to for the past two years and more than flourished. All the power to them and let's hope for them and others that they continue to flourish while somehow maintaining a healthy ecosystem around them.
Long live Twitter.