(I am pushing this past the paywall, because I believe this to be one of the bigger news items we will see for a while and thus very important.)
The changes Twitter made to their API (as broken down in this post by Marco Arment) are both predictable, significant, and dumb-foundingly stupid.
Essentially, Twitter is making it so that it is nearly impossible to do anything with their service — including make Twitter apps — that Twitter doesn’t like or approve of. If Marco’s reading is correct, it further takes action against any site that doesn’t want to use the native Twitter embed when quoting a Tweet, which is pathetic.
I’ve worked all my “I told you sos” out on Twitter — I’d link to them but that would mean using their embed code which includes tracking bullshit that I don’t want to subject my readers to, so you’ll have to take my word for it — so now we need to talk about the future of Twitter.
The changes Twitter just announced remind me very much that Twitter has some massive problems, both at a service, and at a corporate level.
- Twitter has stopped caring about the users that made the service popular, and started only to care about the users that can draw in more users.
- Twitter has sold out. They not only don’t care about the original users, but they don’t even seem to care much for the current users — there’s a very real sense that Twitter needs to make money, and they need to make that money yesterday.
- The people that really cared have moved on — either to new companies (Square and Medium) or simply moved on to something else.
We like to make analogies to Apple in tech blogging circles, so here goes: this is the moment in Twitter’s life where they kicked Steve Jobs out of the company and told Sculley to run it.
Facebook works because Zuckerberg has always been in charge and never pretended to care about user privacy — that allows him to do whatever the hell he wants and users always swallow it. This doesn’t work with Twitter because Twitter’s main features were usually built by its main users, and now Twitter bitch-slapped those users that got the company off the ground.
- Official Twitter iOS app started as a third-party app. In the same vein of those that Twitter now wants to kill.
- The now well known @reply that not only is prevalent on Twitter, but the generally accepted across the web, not invented by Twitter.
- Oh and those Twitter hashtags that, funny enough, Twitter is now using to monetize Twitter with? Again, not invented by Twitter.
I could go on, but you get the point. Twitter was built as a community with users trying to improve the service the best they could for everyone’s benefit — and that is now gone. Chuck Skoda (on Twitter, so no link, instead just subscribe to his blog, it’s great) commented that he can’t remember the last time Twitter innovated — no one can — because the company has only been focused on two things for the last year:
- Big media partnerships.
- Making money.
Wait, that actually is just one thing.
When you are focused on just making money you not only end up screwing people over, but you end up gutting your service. Twitter is gutting the soul from itself and that makes me sad.
I loved Twitter.
I hope that App.net can replace Twitter, because I need a place to post stuff like this:
All Twitter will be in a few months is Spammers, people following Bieber, and Kardashians. Yuck.
If you like Twitter just the way it is today, you’re in luck, because that’s likely to be the norm from here on out — assuming that is that you don’t use a non-official Twitter client. If you loved the way Twitter was a year or two ago, you’re in luck, that’s what App.net is right now.
Change happens, but the mistake made with Twitter is that we, as users, thought we had a say and thought Twitter had our backs. At least with Apple, we know we don’t have a say.