TwitterThreads, need I say more?
February 13, 2008 at 12:15 PM
Every once in a while you see someone create something whose concept is so simple you ask yourself “why didn’t i think of that?” Well today was no different, and the great news is that the person happens to be from our very own Jessica Beck‘s partner in crime, Matt Beck. He decided to play around with the Twitter API and came up with TwitterThreads. It does as the name suggests; threads twitter posts. Unaware of this at the time I had unwittingly posted a question of the day just minutes prior and came to realization that I wouldn’t be able to see of the responses to my question given the hour (almost bed time). Now, thanks to Rick Turoczy’s mention on Twitter, I checked out TwitterThreads. After a quick login, there was my question and all of the replies to it in threaded format. Due to the amount of people I follow this is one hell of a nice improvement. How simple, how easy, how useful. Great work Matt! Read more about it on What Could Be.
Congratulations. The internet forum has been invented. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum
While forums have been around for a long time, every forum system I have tried out and everyone who I have talked to who has used one has always found them clunky and difficult to use. The thing I like about Twitter is that it’s not a forum, its a pool of conversation. The thing I like about TwitterThreads is it bridges the gap between Forums and Twitter.
So, in essence, with twitter they’ve created a solution for a problem that never really existed, then created new problems with the solution, and now they’ve solved one of those problems by implementing technology from the early days of the internet…
Forums are nothing more than a pool of conversation too, except that the conversations are neatly organized in subforums and then threads.
I’ll admit that some forum implementations are clunky, but they’re very far from difficult to use. If you can send an email, you should also be capable of grasping the finer points of forum posts. After all, even trolls manage, and they’re the lowest form of life on this planet ;)
Jochem: My point is there is nothing “neatly organized” about forms.
As someone who has done extensive user research on the usability of forum systems I can tell you that users only “tolerate” forum systems and architecture.
That said, I do agree with you about the Trolls… of course, it would be really hard to get a user base of self-identifying Trolls together for proper testing to prove the point. :)
To be honest, I think even a troll infested forum is more organized than twitter.
I’ve been part of many forums that are quite well organized, with several subforums dedicated to specific topics, trolls and spammers quickly banned and stomped out, with a vibrant community of individuals from all walks of life. They function as a place to meet new people and exchange ideas and opinions on topics that matter to you.
Twitter on the other hand seems to be an almost masturbatory way to keep people you already know up to date on mostly irrelevant and pointless parts of your every day life, or at least that seems to be the most common usage of the medium. Twitter does nothing more than create, if you’re an optimist, a deluge of utterly useless information. If you’re a pessimist, it’s a cornucopia of personal information for data miners.
I can’t say that I agree with you that users ‘tolerate’ forum systems. Perhaps if you take a general slice of the internet using public, yes, but people who use forums to socialize usually prefer it to other mediums such as IRC. Forums, like twitter, aren’t for everyone. Was your research focussed on the general population, internet users in general? What kind of forums did you research, social forums, technical support forums, forums specific to one fandom?
As for the trolls, perhaps you could study them using some techniques from behavioral biologists. After all, studies work the best if your subjects don’t know they’re being studied.
Awesome – thanks for the write-up, Nick! I’m going to stay out of the discussion about the vilification/canonization of Twitter, but I will say that I’m all sorts of impressed with Matt for coming up with TwitterThreads (in one night! Hooray, insomnia!) and I personally find it really useful.