Twitter is a web service that lets you microblog throughout the day, posting tidbits of information on events or just updates for people you know.Â However it’s got a few drawbacks that keep it from being as groundbreaking as it could be.
[This article is followed up by 5 Things I Love About Twitter]
- Sparse web interface
- Kludgy replying interface
- Discussions cannot be followed
Posting on Twitter will, of course,Â lead to someone replying and then followed by other replies from yourself or others.Â These discussions are almost impossible to follow once you get past a few friends since there are only 20 or so posts per page.Â Applications like Twitterific, Twinkle and Twittelator can do it correctly.Â FriendFeed does a spectacular job of handling replies and aggregating dozens of services.Â How can Twitter itself not be able to present the same data in another format on its own pages?Â There needs to be a way to follow threads of discussion without making the user jump through hoops.
Another role that has been left up to other web sites is making Twitter interoperable with other sites.Â Why does a service like ping.fm exist when Twitter is the keeper of that data?Â Rather than using Twitter as a hub of your discussions, it is just an endpoint for the data from sites like ping.fm and a source for aggregator sites like FriendFeed.Â It should be able to receive data from a blog and post to LinkedIn and/or vice versa, all configurable from its settings page.Â Twitter seems content to just be a conduit for data, fading into the background where it will not have direct user interaction.Â It will just be a database tier, allowing other web services to provide the front-end tier where any revenue is most likely to be generated.
Despite the the lightness of the web interface, Twitter is somehow unable to scale as its popularity grows.Â These days Twitter frequently displays the Fail Whale instead of its expected services.Â A number of changes have been made to improve the infrastructure, even as far as abandoning its Ruby on Rails for PHP, but something still seems fundamentally wrong.Â Most services would have been abandoned by now for being so unreliable, but its audience has fallen in love with it after it first exploded onto the scene and few are jumping ship.Â Twitter is getting a lot of free passes so hopefully it can capitalize on its extra chances.
Because of the above issues, there are plenty of other services like identi.ca and FriendFeed ready to move in and eat Twitter’s lunch.Â Without these issues, Twitter could be a reliable, full-featured service that other sites depend on, and which users can use from anywhere they are active.Â It could then consider charging money for Premium services such as featured microblogs, additional storage, more page customization, or better appearance rates in searches.
In my next post, I’ll give you 5 reasons why I love Twitter.