Is Twitter destroying its own usefulness?

Because it is so open, Twitter allows you to draw on information from millions of people and organisations.

Twitter is the world’s only open-source, worldwide collective intelligence

This is why Twitter is having success predicting profitable investments in advance, fighting disease, and even bringing news of earthquakes to people near an earthquake even before they feel the ground move.

Twitter, the company has to be careful not to make changes that destroy the utility of Twitter the service. Only changes made by Twitter or a failure to deal with spam problems can destroy Twitter’s usefulness.

Why Twitter is on a dangerous path

That’s why I’m so concerned about Twitter’s failure to:

  1. Limit obvious spam (such as @ messages with only links to from accounts to people they don’t follow);
  2. Make search return all results;
  3. Restore lost search functionality after the change of encoding all URLs as links;
  4. Show search results more than a few days old.

As regards point 3, Timothy Ballisty  points out how Twitter searches such as this image search return only a tiny fraction of what they used to. And Twitter’s alternative image search is terrible.

Twitter needs to remember that its most powerful features, replies, retweets and hashtags were all created by users, not by Twitter. Twitter search was not even created by Twitter! It was created by an outside company that Twitter bought. Users are today using Twitter search in ways that make it an amazing feature of Twitter. Twitter needs to stop breaking things (search, retweets, not showing all users tweeting hashtags) for users.

Making it hard for people who create tweets to find tweets is a bad idea

While Twitter has been making strides in making the service and the data from tweets more available and useful to businesses and anyone with a large budget, the data and usefulness has been getting worse for the rest of us. The problem is that Twitter’s “data” comes from it’s usefulness to large number of people. If you make it less useful to most people, the data will no longer be valuable to anyone.

Twitter calls being allowed to see all tweets “accessing the firehose” and they are building a business around this for anyone who can pay for it. But the problem is that if you don’t let the data sources (we, the people) access our data, you’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Twitter needs to quit seeing it’s users as geese who’s needs it can ignore in order to extract gold from us.

One thought on “Is Twitter destroying its own usefulness?

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