One of my tweets today was:
I got a few immediate responses from @adventurista, @jbguru, and @mediahorizons asking me what the tipping point was. My tipping point was when I started exploring the apps ecosystem surrounding Twitter to fully understand what a platform is, and thought I’d use this post as a way that I’ve navigated the waters.
I did not really know what Twitter really was- other than a way for the TechCrunch crowd to communicate back and forth with each other and in some ways, use it as an ego machine. @HowardLindzon always put smiles on my face with his obnoxious and ridiculous tweets and in stark contrast to Howard, @andrewparker was sharing IMHO very interesting insight and links. Twitter became a firehose of content, so controlling who I was following was critical.
Fast forward to today, I am following around 195 people. While I probably would follow more than 195 people, the firehose of content becomes so great that there is no way I can keep up with everyone. Only today are the tools being built to help filter and manage the billions of tweets.
I very rarely use Twitter.com as the source of where I write my tweets. Only 1 in my last 20 tweets (5%) were written at Twitter but the majority are written from a communications platform such as TweetDeck, Seesmic, and mobile versions of TweetDeck and Tweetie. The reason why I use these communications platforms are because they help me quickly navigate the content by directing me to all of my friends content, direct messages, and mentions and recently, I setup ways to keep tracking of certain keywords to see what people are saying. It’s a very simple social monitoring tool. A few keywords I’m tracking today are KBS+P, Cliqset and Snackr through programs like TweetDeck and Squawk.
As I deepen my experience with Twitter, the more I understand the ecosystem and how multi-dimensional it has become.
I have not seen statistics as to how many people are using these communications platforms but being that TweetDeck is being mentioned at BestBuy for an Interscope promotion, I can imagine that there have been quite a few downloads.
To fully understand Twitter as a platform, you need to dig deeper into the developer movement. I’ve been spending some time with some developers recently and want to highlight one or two which have really helped me understand the capabilities.
Kevin has been building a few apps around Twitter under the wow.ly name with partner Whitney McNamara. Think of wow.ly as a collection of apps which utilize the manipulation of twitter and other content (accessed thru an API) to provide value to its users. wow.ly has started with Twitter because it’s the most easily accessible and has scale.
ConversationaList is an application that is a Twitter list of the people that you talk to (and about) on Twitter. The list is automatically updated daily, so that it always reflects the people that you are paying attention to right now. If you @reply (or @mention) someone, they’re added to your list. If you stop talking to that person, they drop off your list.
This provides lots of value as it helps me navigate my personal firehose and allows me to find very relevant information.
Another app they have built out is Hivemind.
Hivemind shows you who you’re missing on Twitter. Give hivemind up to five Twitter users that interest you, and it will report back on who those people as a group are all following that you aren’t.
If you respect a few folks and want to find out who they are all following that you are not? This is a great way to add folks to your following list. You are using people as “curators.”
So the above two examples are from wow.ly which tend to use people’s following/followers lists as proxies to analyze data from, but there are other people building some other projects.
Unmasking Masked Links
Check out TweetMeme. If you are familiar with Digg, then you’ll quickly understand TweetMeme. Their tagline is “check out the top links on Twitter.” They break down the links by a few different categories as well, so navigation through these links become easier. This is a nice compliment to TechMeme and worth a check every so often.
A project that I came across is called Bitme.me, a name I don’t understand but useful nonetheless. I had this idea as well, but Dan Lewis actually took the steps to build this site. Bitme pulls the most clicked links across Bit.ly (though not all links are on Twitter) confined to a curated list of sites.
Twitter In Itself is “Dumb”
It’s not dumb in the sense that I’m not going to use it, it’s dumb in the sense that it is much more intelligent when your interface with it through the apps. That in itself is a definition of a platform. I believe that Twitter will ultimately succeed if remains a platform and allows developers to continue innovating through the APIs. If Twitter starts to make acquisitions that limits the amount of companies accessing the APIs, then the pace of innovation may slow. ReadWriteWeb had a great article about Twitter’s API rate change that could lead to significant innovation and I’m all for it.
As mentioned, my tipping point was when I started exploring the apps ecosystem surrounding Twitter. This tipping point is the true understanding of what a platform really is. If you are inspired and want to learn more, check out John Borthwick‘s Charting the Real Time Web. If the ecosystem of the real time web is inspiring to you, check out Betawork’s network of companies to see how the space is playing out.
From me, I’ve made a recent investment in this space (company not listed in this post) that should surface in February/March 2010. I’ve been inspired by streams of content and believe there are simple ways to consume content that can be leveraged by the masses. Look out for more posts like this one, and yes, I’ll be tweeting about it too. You can follow me on twitter here.