I’m calling Twitter on its Bullshit

I’ve been trying to love Twitter, the current darling-child of Web 2.0, but I can’t get there.  Now I realise why: Twitter is broadcast.  It’s no better than Television.

I initially saw Twitter as another excellent way to continue the conversation.  Someone like Dave Winer or Jason Calacanis would tweet something, and I could @reply them to comment on it quickly and efficiently.  But now I find out why Dave has been ‘ignoring’ me: he can’t see my replies.

Twitter’s dirty little not-so-secret is that people won’t see your @replies unless they are following you or they specifically enable the replies.  So the A-list guys like Dave, Jason, Robert Scoble, et al just get to prognosticate from the mountain, even more so than in their blogs.  They build a massive list of ‘followers’ (disciples?), to whom they can tweet a command to be followed ("read my blog", "comment on this photo", "check out this new Web 2.0 site"), and a good percentage of their followers will do their bidding.

The more I think about it the more I wonder if it is some giant mind-control experiment.

From now on if I want a conversation with someone I’ll be using email, or commenting on a blog.

Side note: this is where FriendFeed can nail Twitter: all threaded replies on FriendFeed seem to show, regardless of whether you are following the commenter.

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  1. Your bitching about a Twitter UI issue, not the core service itself. FriendFeed *uses* Twitter to do what it does very well – showing you Twitters back and forth from you and your friends in a single interface. Good for them.

    This is why the Twitter guys gave us an API to use – to let others build stuff they didn’t think about, or didn’t want to implement because they thought it was a stupid idea.

    And, for the record, I think this is a really bad idea for Twitter to do. Scoble, for one, doesn’t have enough time in the day to read your crappy little replies. Let the user decide who is important to listen to.

    This same argument could be had a 1,000 times for other software and services. “It sucks they don’t have this *obvious* feature! I hate them!”. Write it yourself with their APIs – it’s not hard.

  2. Jason Calacanis is, however, pretty involved with people who communicate with him, even at twitter… (with the exception of dave winer) i’ve gotten responses from all those guys on twitter… sure it’s never a full on interview but the occasional shout back to the random follower is pretty common for most “a-listers” so i’m not sure that aspect of the rant is fair (nor is it a flaw in twitter itself if a particular person feel *above* anyone else and decides not to reply to people. ever.)

    It’s almost funny because I feel that way a lot of times at big blogs like Scobleizer, TC and GigaOM… i’ve left hundreds of comments all over and not once have I ever gotten a nod or a smack down by any of the authors in the comments (with the exception of Scoble who really does a fantastic job at communicating with as many people as possible wherever possible it seems). But when I finally got on twitter, wouldn’t you know it… they are real. lol

    I guess I can feel some of the gripes and stuff about twitter…. no doubt… but for what it’s trying to do I think it’s doing a pretty swell job… and always remember, the only constant is change. So it will get better. As an aside, friendfeed is definitely good stuff (i came to this post from there), but I said not long ago in different topic: i don’t think friendfeed and twitter overlap… they don’t to me… friendfeed does what friendfeed does… twitter is for something different, something at which I think it’s been doing a somewhat decent job (it could really get better… but it’s where the action is.)

  3. Urm, If you were using a decent Twitter app like Tweetdeck you wouldnt be having problems.. I have no issues getting @replies from people with numbers of followers exceeding the people you cite.

    I get so much value, connections (and paying jobs) from Twitter.

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