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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Twitter and the Web 2.0 Hype


Twitter is the latest fan boy in the town. A free social messaging utility that allows you to broadcast to the world what you are doing under 140 characters, it enjoyed a meteoric rise after a few well known celebrities started to use it. For a simple service that can be cloned in a week ( or so a tweet claims), Twitter's success is nothing short of astounding.

But despite the role it played in the Iranian election, despite that it's such a huge disrupter to any authoritarian regime, despite its ability to convey real time information in such a wide and spontaneous manner that no other 
type of media can hope to convey, Twitter is really lacking of a business model

Well, it's not exactly a sin to have a startup that lacks a business model; I don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem, however, with the kind of hype associates with it. 

For quite sometime already people has been talking about Twitter and real time search, and why should Google worries about it. Even the venerable Wired magazine, which should really have known better, also asked Eric Schmidt whether he's worried about the threat Twitter posted to Google because of real time search.

So, by having "real time search" Twitter is posted to be a Google killer? C'mmon, you gotta be serious. For one, Google does have a real time search-- if your article or news are important enough. For example, I can expect to get my blog post from Google minutes after it has been posted ( and I am in NO WAY consider my post to be important, except perhaps to myself). And if you are a venerable news agency, you can expect to see your article appears on Google news right after it appears on your website ( I searched 'obama' and the first item I got was a news item from AFP-- updated 39 minutes ago). 

It seems that the only strength Twitter has over Google is the " real time ability" to search for common terms, such as "Gmail outage" that won't normally appear in Google searches because these kinds of events are quite frivolous and don't register a lasting impact. But as far as I know Technorati, a blog search engine also has this feature since long time ago. Obviously, the ability to see "what is percolating in blogs now"( Technorati motto) doesn't save Technorati at all; the last time I checked the website it's slow, and the indexing service is unreliable, and according to all the metric I have Technorati is not exactly prospering now, even though it did started off with a big bang. 

Twitter could as well turn into another Technorati, we don't know. 

Which leads to the question of why all the hype? As mentioned, although Twitter is obviously a good tool, but the fact that people seems to take it too seriously has always bother me. It seems that the Internet media is always on a lookout for the next poster child to talk about, and of course the poster child will welcome all the attention ( but not the downtime that associates with the traffic spike, please). But we as the user, do we have to chase from one trend to another? From one next-hot-service to another-hot-service?

Oh yes, one last thing. Before I forget, Twitter, please enable OpenID support. I am sure it would be useful. 
Thank you for listening to my rant. 

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