This would have probably been far more timely a year ago, but oh well. The one thing that users of App.net (myself included) like to point to is that you have better, deeper, conversations on App.net then what you find on Twitter and therefore App.net is better. It’s as if theory gives far more meaning, or intellectualism to the service, and therefore (should) justify using it to anyone.
The idea is that because the service is smaller, used by people that are paying for it (mostly), and offers larger character limits — the conversations themselves are far deeper and done at a not-petty level (read: trolls).
So the real question is: is Twitter more shallow than App.net?
I don’t think so. I’ve used both extensively and App.net exclusively for the last year — so I have a good basis from where I speak. What I’ve come to realize, especially after coming back to Twitter, is that Twitter suffers from a popularity problem.
There’s too many great people and accounts to follow, and they turn out an amazingly high volume of, well, shit ((I don’t use shit to mean everything is bad stuff, just there’s a lot of shit being tweeted, some good, some inconsequential.)) everyday, hour, and minute. I’d guess that for everyone one post on App.net, I’d have 30 tweets waiting for me on Twitter, but it feels more like 50 to 1.
The real difference is that with Twitter you have a problem of overload, and on App.net it never gets that way. Even on busy days on App.net, I could go all day without checking App.net, spend 15 minutes at the end of the day, and be caught up. It just took me 15 minutes to get caught up on Twitter after not checking for three hours.
There’s no way I can decipher everything I see coming at me on Twitter, and because of that there is no way I can think about everything I see. On App.net you can read a post, think about it, and move on — without taking too much of your time. That will naturally lead you to formulating thoughts, thinking, and responding in a more considered manner.
It’s not that App.net is better for discussions because of the platform — it’s that it is better for discussions because fewer people use the service than use Twitter. Is that good or bad? That’s for you to decide, I missed the chaos of Twitter after a year away, but I do admit to needing to follow some old advice of mine:
We are not friends because we both pushed a button confirming so — we just are interested in what other people say. Think of Twitter more like RSS feed subscriptions and less like a network of friends and you won’t get so worked up over all this follower nonsense.
App.net as a platform kicks Twitter’s ass, but the people are simply not on App.net. You can live in the best city in the world, but if you feel alone in that city then what is the point of living there?
It’s not paid versus ‘free’, or 140 versus 256, that matters — what matters is what and how you use the service. You want more quality in discussions, slow down and read carefully and consider. Maybe unfollow a few hundred people on Twitter.