The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Bad Form, Twitter

When it comes to Twitter, 2010 personally left me with a bad taste in my mouth. When the company purchased Loren Brichter's atebits — and programming skills — I was probably affected more than most people because of our ads in Tweetie for Mac. Other 3rd party Twitter client developers aside.

I could certainly understand Loren's decision and hold no hard feelings towards him. But the few communications I had with the team at Twitter left me wishing there was a little more competition on this space. Why? Because I was left with this general feeling: Twitter spent the early years building up as many users as possible — due in large part to the third party apps that accessed the service — and decided to put off figuring out how to make money from of their service until later. Now that they have the users, they seem to have no remorse about commoditizing those users and cutting out the very people that helped Twitter become what it is. The third party client app developers.

The latest changes to the official Twitter clients for the iPhone and iPad were a beginning down a road I hate to see Loren's work associated with. Both unwanted and tasteless, if this is where the service is going, it makes me wonder if I want to partake in it.

I stopped using Facebook three years ago, just when it was becoming extremely popular. I'm starting to have the same feelings for Twitter that I felt towards Facebook at that time. The masses may be happy with the service, just as they are happy with Facebook. But every time I hit the Twitter home page and see the trending topics rolling across the page, I get the feeling that maybe it's time for this guy to move on.

Ryan Sarver's post to the Twitter Google Group on Friday shows how far the company is willing to go to be the sole beneficiary of its user base. That doesn't sound unreasonable at all, does it? I simply wish they had made these intentions clear from the beginning rather than climb their to this position on the backs of small, independent developers.

The sole aspect that Twitter offered that Facebook did not was that I had control of the experience. I followed who I wanted. I received the updates I cared about. But if Twitter is going to start forcing content in my direction in the form of promoted tweets that lack relevancy, and at the same time force out developers who helped build the community …

Bad form.

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