I JUST RETURNED from a communal lawn mowing session with two other mowers, one trimmer, two sweepers and one skip driver--they didn't connect with my world of Twitter. They didn't know what to make of the whale on my t-shirt (see left). Not that I expected anyone in the neighbourhood to know about Twitter. (Short answer: it's like a public bus with a community water cooler just inside the door.) We're community mowers, social drinkers and over-the-fence whingers. We are connected by three things: mowing, drinking and complaining. You can only complain on Twitter. You cannot do yard work or get drunk on Twitter. As summer reaches its high and rainy point this month, I need to spend more time outside and much less time skimming the waves on Twitter. So as I depart from my perch, I'm willing to make three predictions about Twitter and the community there.
1. Only the VCs will care that Twitter keeps losing money. As a second mover (Jaiku was first in the space), Twitter will keep the board meetings happy just by drawing more people into the community. Each of those new members (and we mean real people, not spambots that seem to be attaching themselves to my list of followers) helps build a perimeter fence that stands in the way of people leaving for a better system and the congregation attracts more and more people on the heels of a happy community. The VC money is going into growing the size of the user base. If only the subsystem actually remained robust enough to let people follow conversations that are more than 10 pages old.
2. Twitter Won't Decentralise Servers. It will simply cost too much money for Twitter to buy the mid-range systems that could provide a highly reliable federation of Twitter conversations. Some new faces inside Twitter engineering shows the managers know how important it is to employ people who know how to manage fail-over services with busy web sites. However, I think the concept of federated and decentralised Twitter operations is just too expensive to accomplish. I also believe that only with decentralised and distributed communications services can Twitter banish the Fail Whale to the deep.
3. Twitter Group Hugs Will Remain in Vogue. A lot of shiny happy people really like the Twitter brand. It works for them because they have strings of friends--many they have never met in real life--to share the banter of the day. Some really cool things connect into Twitter, like Twitterfone, Twitpic, and Summize. Twitter has become a recognisable brand, percolating onto CSI and heard on national radio in Ireland. I have several Twitter t-shirts, some with error messages, others with birds or whales on them. I know several Twitter whores who strut their stuff well, earning cross-over traffic to their blogs and meetups. So when September rolls around and I start swimming in Twitter every day, hyping Podcamp Ireland to the masses, I hope my friends will oblige by clicking on my hyperlinks and then maybe actually go to the late September event.
We have t-shirts with whales to give away! See you then.