Twitter needs to state their objective in much clearer terms

Jason Kottke, today:

It’s funny that so many of the things that make Twitter compelling weren’t actually invented by Twitter but by the users and developers.

It is true. Linking, @replies, #hashtags, photo sharing, location sharing, and much much more all came from the community and the developers that built cool tools ontop of Twitter. Not from Twitter themselves. Twitter simply supported and fostered the growth of these features.

Michael Sippey of Twitter, a few weeks ago:

These efforts highlight the increasing importance of us providing the core Twitter consumption experience through a consistent set of products and tools. Back inMarch of 2011, my colleague Ryan Sarver said that developers should not “build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.” That guidance continues to apply as much as ever today. Related to that, we’ve already begun to more thoroughly enforce our Developer Rules of the Roadwith partners, for example with branding, and in the coming weeks, we will be introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used.

The Developer Rules of the Road do not seem all that ominous but the tech press is certainly painting a picture of doom and gloom for developers. And, the developers that have read these rules, no doubt, stand back and wonder what exactly Twitter is getting at. I think Twitter needs to state their objective in much clearer terms.

Legalese is not my strong-suit but reading through Twitter’s Developer Rules of the Road document I came away with the following opinion. Twitter does not want developers to simply recreate, Twitter for iOS, Twitter for Android, Twitter for Windows Phone, etc. If someone is going to create a Twitter client, it should be markedly different than the way that Twitter’s own official apps work. For instance, someone could build a client that shows the main Twitter timeline, Lists, and trending topics in a whole new way (like Tweetbot, for example) but it should be easy to see that it isn’t the official Twitter client (which it is easy to see that) and it should exclusively use the Twitter API for these features (I don’t know enough about Tweetbot to know), and – in the near future – it may be asked or even forced to show Twitter Ads.

I could be way off. If I am, it may be even more apparent that Twitter needs to state their objective in clearer terms.