Dear Twitter, please reconsider this madness


Dear Twitter. You were always one of my favorites. I love it how you managed to create a subculture, something that Facebook will never be able to do. You've allowed people to collectively create information that travels the world in seconds. Your role in many global activist projects is invaluable, and your stance on privacy issues something that inspires the world. You help us find out about things before they actually happen. When the Icelandic volcano was erupting in 2010, I was watching the #ashtag word clouds being broadcasted live on CNN. It was then that it struck me that the media will never be the same again, the power of thousands reporters wins every time. You made it to the mainstream, shaped transmedia into Twitter + television. You were becoming the ultimate foundation for real-time information. You made me realize so many things by being one of the most prominent platforms of the social era. You were the man.

And now you are starting to kill the platform.

Anyone who's read What Would Google Do? would know this is a huge mistake. This book (from 2009!) has a chapter about the value of platforms and distributed systems, and I've been obsessing myself with this revelation ever since. Wrote a blog post about it, which was retweeted by the book's author Jeff Jarvis himself, and it made me even more in love with the idea. Now I'm sure platforms are the future, because they have the ability to outlast services.

The most important things about platforms are the ecosystems around them. Yours was always more appealing to me than Facebook's. Because of the information Twitter has (almost all of it public), because of the culture that's emerged around this information. Twitterers, Developers, even Lurkers and Ninjas, the amount of innovative things that people have managed to build around your core is amazing. Not just silly games and marketing schemes, actually valuable and inspiring things (we've tried it too!). I always believed you were cooler than Facebook, that you have a brighter future, since you weren't trying to keep people inside your services. You seemed to know what made you in the first place.

I understand it's the high level mashups you are interested in, but still, the platform is the most important thing you have. Why not let other people reinvent your user experience, like others are trying to reinvent email? You want that, you want people to make Twitter whatever they want, while creating, consuming and curating the data that's inside you. You need thousand of different clients that feed your infinite hunger, enabling you to build your business model around the tweets that are generated. You want developers to use, abuse and reshape your essence. Because platforms are like networks, there value grows exponentially with the number of nodes they have, and these nodes help platforms evolve even further, in unimaginable ways.

And now you are trying to kill bits of this platform, those bits that help create the most valuable thing you have - hundreds of millions of Tweets every day. They may be just Twitter clients, but they might as well be the most important thing you've ever had. Your fans, your supporters, your ambassadors, your army, your ecosystem. Your future is more important than your monetization, not just to me and to them, to everybody who loves what you are, and to those who don't get you. Your future is important to mankind. That's why you should stay what you were meant to be. You should stay the open platform.

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written 21.8.2012 16:01 CET on chronolog
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