Twitter Needs Two Channels

bullhorn guy In thinking a bit more about cafe-shaped conversations, I’m wary of how Twitter (and by twitter, I mean one-to-many communications platforms, because let’s agree that Twitter is generation 1 of something not yet fully realized), wary of how Twitter can become quite a lot of noise and not enough signal. The thing is this: Twitter is two things- the commons and a platform. I think we need a two-channel Twitter.

Disclaimer First

Dear Ev and Jack and Biz – I am not in the Twitter needs lots of features camp. I am not. We saw what that did to the others. You made the right move, even when every pundit was clamoring for more. So, please, it’s okay to disregard this advice along with the rest. Maybe I’m just using you as a placeholder for *.next-wave-of-what-Twitter-has-shown-us-should-exist.

Two Channels: Commons and the Platform

The commons is all the @ messages, all the “I love Newman’s Own Organic Coffee at McDonalds” tweets. It’s the place where the real relationship building happens. The platform is where one says those things that might be of value, or of informational impact, of serious-ish and worthwhile note.

This permits people to opt into one of three types of feeds: commons only, platform only, or everything. It’s similar to the “only show me @ messages for people I’m subscribed to” option.

Some people love the commons. There’s a whole lot of people who want to have the full-featured conversation inside Twitter. I do. I love it all. I like the variety.

But others don’t want to use Twitter this way. They want it to be a very powerful platform for conveying data. That’s fine, too. Nothing wrong with that. I think there are lots of different ways people are looking to use the service.

Why This is Harder Than Just Satisfying Me

  • There’s no mechanism in SMS for this. So a tweet from SMS would get dumped into whatever the default was (presuming the commons).

  • It means a rewrite to the API.
  • It means more rows in the database.
  • It means a lot of app changes, and some usage changes.

Why It Just Might Be Worth It

Because the same functionality, some kind of “gate” factor, would allow for on-the-fly groups, would allow for “team-only” messaging, and would allow for some features I haven’t even really considered in this post.

One More Thing

How I would do the Commons and the Platforms segregation would be as follows:

  • Tweet without a prefix: commons.
  • P [body of tweet] – Platform
  • C [body of tweet] – Commons

Similar to the DM function, D, and the @ function, @chrisbrogan. Just give a P and a C function call.

**Update: Per Howard Greenstein’s comment, I had another idea. What about “E” for emergency information. Used like:

E They just bombed Mumbai!!! (which should pop to the “alert” status) or whatever. Things like Amber alerts and the like would be in this category.

Throw stones. Agree. Disagree.

Photo credit, Gabu Chan

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