My Personal Tweet
Response to @onthemedia and request to fix Twitter - http://advocatehope.org/hopes/my-personal-tweet/ #fixtwitter
History of pre-Twitter and How Twitter Fixed It
Prior to Twitter, web logs/blogs and RSS were the fix to the world of publishing online for many people. And there also were some proprietary systems like PointCast that filled a niche. Blogs and RSS allowed for people to publish on their own web site in timely ways and then RSS allowed followers and aggregators/syndicators to grab the status of the blog and the quick info about what was new. Unfortunately, they failed to:
- be timely, as RSS was bandwidth intense, and the "push" or "pull" was often limited to once an hour;
- be realtime, which sounds like timely, but means that it could be as fast as a conversation, unlike blogs;
- be concise, as blog posts could be interminable and RSS did not enforce a strict limit on the description of the post;
- be comprehensive, as practiced, where RSS and blog pages would limit the number of posts to only 5, 10 or 20 usually;
- be able to be centralized, as aggregators and blogrolls and other systems failed to allow all posts to be found;
- be human readable, as RSS was usually unreadable for humans that were not HTML/XML prodigies, so few could see the RSS links in their web browsers (except for a few like mine that used a technology to force most browsers to show RSS as a normal web page);
- be integrated with mobile technology, as SMS was limited generally to 160 characters and APIs with it were novel;
- be easy for any non-tech savvy to publish, as blogs and RSS were still hard often hard to stand up and run;
- be searchable, which is almost impossible without being centralized.
The Features of Twitter
The Architecture of Twitter
- Usernames have 15/20 character limits;
- Each post on Twitter has its own URL/ web page (example);
- The URL's that Twitter creates are, essentially, well structured and permanent (see the self-evident structure of my post's URLhttps://twitter.com/citizencontact/status/300531540444733440)
- #hashtags were an ad hoc system created to allow for ad hoc conversations, (at one point NPR staffers tried to buck the hashtag's pound sign),
- Twitter is the main reason for the strange creature known as the short URL/redirect URL to allow for a web link/URL in much less than 140 characters;
- to be useful, everyone has to use it (ok, almost everyone that matters).
and the Fail Whale
- Who owns your identity on Twitter-Twitter does
- Verified account? Really? An authentication nightmare. Only for a subset of all Twitter users. And then it is fairly opaque, unverifiable and non-regulated process compared with the trademark or domain system.
- @username should not be confused with identity, but is as you may have a different user name on another service/site than Twitter (reason I open up accounts with "citizencontact" early and often on up and coming systems)
- All eggs in one basket- Twitter goes down and so does your content and everyone elses.
- The short URL's shortcomings. Redirects are bad on so many levels,
- often use country codes that are sort of under the control of the country, like .ly for Libya (which was a "bit" of a problem for some during the recent war in Libya).
- often redirects can not be updated if the original page moves.
- often redirects are outside the control of the person using it,
- harder to see if the it has been hijacked or is misdirecting,
- and is never the actual URL.
- The non-standard standards for microblogging and APIs mean that your content has limits for use that is set by Twitter, not your organization.
- who owns the content and who controls the content is an uneasy balance with Twitter the corporation. Access control is controlled by Twitter and meshing your organizations access control is not obvious. This is especially true for organizations that allow for spontaneous staff or individual commenting. Is it the person with the Twitter password to org's main account? Danger Will Robinson!
- Taxonomy vs. folksonomy- the freedom of hash tags (or plain tags for blogs) allows for spontaneous and free usage. However, it is not well suited for control or longevity. RDF, ontologies, official taxonomies, moderated directories (e.g. Yahoo aka Yet Another Hierarchical Ontological Organization), Dublin Core and a myriad of other standards/systems can help with more considered web published documents.
- and how hashtags and tags are really search URLs that usually only span one site (which in the case of Twitter is enormous)
- Although permanence is not guaranteed for any online system, there is no guarantee that one day any account or even the entire service might disappear. And unless you have a copy (thanks cloud backup services), your content is gone.
Solution within Twitter Depends on Outside of Twitter
- people allowed to use the domain system for their user id's/names. This has been possible for Google Apps and some Microsoft systems for awhile. For example, compare:
- now, https://twitter.com/onthemedia/status/....
- better as, https://twitter.com/onthemedia.org/status/....
- or even better, https://status.onthemedia.org/....
- Regardless of the location/domain of the Twitter site, always list the actual URL of any Twitter accounts on the home page or about page of the organization or individual.