twitter_cnn_oprah

The gold that Twitter thinks it has is quickly
caving in. While it may not look like this to the outside world,
those of us deep down in the mine are hearing the supports creaking
and know it’s time to get out. The roof is going to come down, and we
know that its now just a matter of when.

This week
twitter saw some of the worst high-publicity debacles it’s seen yet.
Sure they seem ok and maybe even fun at the time, but the
repercussions from them are going to be huge.

First:
The CNNbrk vs. aplusk Race to One Million Followers

On many
levels this seems like a great thing for Twitter. Aside from Ashton
pushing the service, now even Larry King is in on it. Larry put out a
video accepting Ashton’s challenge. How much more publicity can
twitter ask for? Larry King is huge! If you thought Jon Stewart
brought in a lot of people, just wait until we see the users come in
from Larry King talking about this on CNN. But there’s even more to
this issue.

Now
we’re selling accounts.

Ok, well,
not exactly selling them but CNN didn’t own the CNNbrk account. CNN
had to “acquire” is from James Cox to be able to make the
best out of the race. In order to avoid voilation of the Twitter
Terms of Service, CNN apparently hires cox on as a “consultant”
and one of the terms of his contract was the transfer of the account
to CNN as pointed out in this Techcrunch article
on the transaction.

Why are they
so happy?

Because now
their followings are going to be worth more money, and the precedent
has been set. It’s hard to stop a moving train, and this one is
picking up speed FAST.

The net
result of these events, the race and the acquisition, is going to be
a huge race in the crowds of people with 25k accounts. They’re going
to be doing everything in their power to crank those accounts up to
100k, 250k even 500k. Why? So they can sell the accounts. They aren’t
going to sell you and me anything. If we get really lucky they won’t
even spam us in our DM boxes. (HA! They will spam us, with links on
how to succeed at Twitter!)

And then
in steps Oprah.

Now, I don’t
have anything against Oprah, or her tweeting. But was it really in
Twitter’s best interest to make a big deal out of this? No lack of
performance issues on Twitter today as a result, though intruth less
than I expected. But the influx of new users coming from her network
of IRL followers is going to be hard for Twitter to absorb,
especially when huge numbers of them figure out the reality of the
followers-race. She gained about 40,000 followers in a 24 hours
period. How does this benefit an ailing infrastructure? Sure she has
the same right to tweet just like the rest of us. But, the publicity
attached to it is a force to be reckoned with.

Why is all
of this bad for twitter? Because the management at twitter has shown
a complete disregard for their future. They haven’t made timely
hires, and so they haven’t beable to do the things that an company
like them needs to do to survive. They haven’t increased the
scalability of their architecture. They haven’t (in 3 years) managed
to develop a competent TechOps team or Support team. Have you ever
gotten notice from their TechOps Department before or during a
significant outage or service degradation OR security incident? And
the support? What support? How many individual users who aren’t in
@ev’s or @biz’s friend list actually get any sort of response on aa
support ticket submitted? Not many. I’ve certainly submitted mine,
and never gotten a response to any of them .

Which brings
me to the fundamental question, and reason, that the supports are
crumbling and the gold mine is caving in forever. “Why is
Twitter driving up user levels and developer usage levels without the
infrastructure needed to support that kind of load?”

Simple. The
management of Twitter are believing in the fallacy that we disproved
in the dotcom boom of the late 90s. They’re believing that
users=money. Twitter has no concrete plans to monetize their service.
They don’t need to in their view. I’m pretty sure that they think
that the number of users is going to translate directly in to the
number of dollars that they can sell Twitter for in the end. In other
words, the management of Twitter is acting just like the users of
twitter.All in all, what this is leading to is converting Twitter
from a “way of exchanging short messages” and “keeping
up with your friends” to an extension of the established
broadcasting universe. The followers races will continue, and indeed
increase, and the conversation that has developed on Twitter will
decrease relative to the noise. Spam levels will grow, and quality
users will disappear, moving on to other services.

The
followers race and Twitter’s goal of building a huge user base smack
of the errors that the Internet providers made in the late 90s. They,
and their investors made the mistake of presuming that corporate
valuations would be based not on the fundamentals of business, but on
the numbers of users, and “mindshare” We saw when the
bubble burst that this was a fallacy, and that users leave when they
don’t get the performance and support that they want, need, and
deserve.

Why
can’t Twitter, its investors, and it’s users see that now?

Where will
you escape the noise?

You’ll be
able to rise above the noise, and catch me on FriendFeed,
Blellow
, and identi.ca.

Meanwhile, I
guess I’ll be broadcasting on Twitter myself.

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Published in: on April 17, 2009 at 20:12  Leave a Comment  

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