Neal Freeland

Engineering/marketing manager, family guy. My personal blog with a few work thoughts mixed in.

Twitter is a Rubix Cube: the fad will fade

with 5 comments

There is no denying that Twitter is the hottest company on the Internet right now, with explosive growth that continues to accelerate as it crosses over from early adopters to mainstream users.
Despite this success, Twitter feels like a fad to me. It was popular early with the digerati, and much hyped, but back in 2007 and early 2008 it felt like a service for an in-crowd to talk to each other in order to prove that they were part of the in-crowd, sort of a symbol of geek cool. I wonder how many people who are joining now are doing so because of the value of the service, or just because they are jumping on the bandwagon. I guess I see Twitter like a Rubix’s Cube, a really fun and compelling game that gets hot for a while, but eventually starts to wane.
Don’t get me wrong, I think microblogging and the statusphere are here to stay. Short, pithy updates pushed to a social network is definitely a trend that will endure in the mainstream. I’m just not sure Twitter will be the primary platform for this in the long term. I think one of the biggest problems people face with the proliferation of communication and networking services on the Internet is information overload: how do we manage all this information coming at us, and sort through it efficiently? We need filters to distinguish information that is really important from that which is less critical. Facebook provides these filters because that’s where people’s real relationships are mapped: updates from my best friend are important, those from a work acquaintance less so. On Facebook, I can find the updates from my inner circle of family and friends, and then expand out to my wider network as time permits. Maybe Twitter can build this filter feature, but I just can’t imagine that people will want to re-build their social network on Twitter once it’s already on Facebook.
That said, there are some wonderful things happening on Twitter, and it should be a tool every markerter considers to connect to customers. Even if the popularity of the Rubix Cube has waned since its peak in the 80s, it is widely claimed to be the most popular toy of all time. That wouldn’t be such a bad fate for Twitter. 

Written by nealfreeland

April 2, 2009 at 5:51 pm

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