The death rattle of old Twitter

September 5th, 2014

Can you hear it? I can.

Read this, as reported on the very great GigaOm:

Twitter’s timeline is organized in reverse chronological order… but this “isn’t the most relevant experience for a user,” Noto said. Timely tweets can get buried at the bottom of the feed if the user doesn’t have the app open, for example. “Putting that content in front of the person at that moment in time is a way to organize that content better.

“Timely tweets can get buried.” — If I squint my eyes, turn my head, and think-real-hard I can sort of understand what Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto is trying to say. Perhaps he’s trying to say that important (which is subjective), popular, or interesting (also subjective) tweets can be buried pretty quickly in Twitter’s timeline. That’s true.

You can have one tweet say “Help me I’m drowning!” and it can be immediately buried by a bunch of tweets from the evening’s popular television show hashtag. However, that is how it is supposed to work. Well, that is how old Twitter worked anyway.

Remember what I wrote last week in The golden age of Twitter is over? I said “The Twitter of 2006-2010 isn’t coming back. It never will. It is something different now.”

The recent changes to one’s timeline with favorites popping up as if they were Retweets was when they changed what Twitter used to be. It isn’t coming back. But if Twitter makes the change that Noto spoke about… that should be the very last thing that the Twitter team could do to make Twitter as un-Twitter-like as possible. In fact, the reasons I do not use Facebook will end up being the reasons I do not use Twitter.

So that we’re all clear; we care about the old Twitter going away but the Twitter team does not care at all. It is already mostly gone and the nail in the coffin is forthcoming. So be prepared for it. If you’d like to replace the old Twitter with something, you’ll need to look elsewhere such as the now-all-but-scuttled Alpha.App.net, Tent.io, or the newly discovered Ello (I’m cdevroe on Ello). 

Maybe nothing will replace the old Twitter. Maybe we’ll all just move on with our lives and live like we did in a pre-Twitter but post-Facebook world. One where we have zero say in what happens with the timeline we use each day and experiments are run on our personal data to change our moods and the APIs will change without noticed and blah blah blah. Dark days ahead, I’m afraid.