twitter gets all corporate

Sun, Mar 13, 2011

Twitter has decided it’s time to ditch all those hairy arsed developers who are apparently confusing users by displaying tweets in non standard ways, using different terms for twitter actions such as favourite (that should have been favorite? but that’s spelled wrong!) and worse of all, playing fast and loose with their privacy. Apparently users are confused by the multifarious nature of tweets exposed to them in different parts of the internet. Oh dear, doesn’t bode well for the future of humanity. How do they cope when they’re on holiday and they have to go into a different supermarket, where the tin of beans is on a lower shelf? “There are no beans!” they cry, so twitter would have us believe. “Purchase two for one the sign says”. According to twitter, the hapless user must seek a supermarket assistant and cry “I want to buy two tins of beans for the price of one but it only says I can purchase them! What does purchase mean? Can’t I just buy them instead?”.

Twitter wants all users to shop at twitter.com, where the beans are always on the same shelf, in the same aisle and you can only buy, not purchase. Whereas in the real world, supermarkets regularly shift things around and funnily enough, there is no worldwide outcry that the beans have moved. Even more strange, users still find the beans. Supermarkets think it’s worth the effort of shifting things around to change how users shop. They are exposed to different products they may not have noticed before, simply by shifting their beans to a different shelf in a different aisle. Twitter says this is a bad thing. That you should not be exposed to new things in this way. Twitter would prefer to open the doors to big business who will show you new things in the twitter way. Presumably meaning you’re going to start buying spam.

If twitter is correct in claiming that developers breach user privacy then by all means cut off their API access. Hound them out. Bin them now! These people are arseholes who need to be told they are arseholes. But where is the proof of this statement that affects all developers? twitter are tarring all developers with a virtual brush. It takes Claims Based Authorisation to a new level. twitter is saying “you’re all a bunch of hairy arsed privacy stealing hackers. Get out!”. They are apparently laying down the red carpet for big business to come in and clean up. You just have to look at the list of companies they’re evanagelising. They’re hounding innovative developers and espousing ad targeting spam machines. They’re going corporate.

The developer world is abuzz with this outburst from twitter, with some analysis from Brent Simmons who is also thinking about an alternative. There’s some more stuff on ReadWriteWeb and from Dave Winer.

Myself? Of course I’m annoyed at the collective slight on developers by a corporate wannabe but at the end of the day, twitter is basically a load of cold pish. I don’t read tweets that don’t contain links. I have no friends on twitter. My friends are on facebook. And this news that they’re heading down Big Business Avenue by basically making a public announcement that Big Business can see, to the effect that they’re clearing out the squatters and spring cleaning Twitter Supermarket in anticipation of the Spam Meisters’ arrival, is neither here nor there to me.

Twitter’s value is in the quick clean interface you can use in a hurry to send information round the world. The Middle East revolutions are a case in point, where people under fire can tweet in real time using the tool they choose to use. Minimalist design, “fault” tolerant in that you can type “rt”, or “RT”, or “RT:” or whatever to retweet and the software will know what you mean. Twitter wants us to go back to the days of wind up communications and code books where only recognised commands are allowed and we must all communicate in Twitterese. Good luck then twitter. You might have just holed your ship. Lets see where the passengers flee.

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