There has been a lot of buzz around the real time web lately. And the main responsible for that buzz has been, without a doubt, twitter. Some have gone to the extent of saying that Google is afraid of twitter.
Well, hum, I don’t think so, clearly the mountain-view gang is worried about other stuff, not twitter. Twitter does not overlap with what google does. Yet it does open the door to something somewhat novel.
One of the main differences of twitter with “chat” as we knew it is that the content is stored, indexed, and publicly available in the form of webpages. IRC, for instance (or Messenger, or Yahoo! IM) uses its own protocol to transfer, store and access information which, in most cases is not publicly available either.
The so-called “real time web” then is actually “almost real time web”. This makes a small difference to the human interactions (things happen as fast as we can assimilate them) but has huge implications from a technological and indexing point of view.
This is where google comes into play, why they shouldn’t worry and why this rumor about big G’s plans to launch microblogging search makes perfect sense.
Let me explain.
Twitter is endogamy. It is a self-contained universe. Fair enough, its API allows all sorts of interactions with the outside world and extensibility through other services and programs, but it all orbits around the same. Google, on the other hand has always been an outside-looking company and set of services.
Google’s basic premise is to crawl what others generate in order to allow people to find that content. That premise does not have to change with the so-called real-time web. That is what makes companies such as google so interesting, the fundamentals are so simple that they can adapt to changes without having to change them. As a matter of fact what google needs is other real time content-generation sites and services to proliferate.
How so? since most people use Twitter it makes perfect sense to use Twitter’s native search when looking for the latest. But what would happen if there were another big player in the scene? You’d end up using a search engine that indexes them both. That is if such two things existed. It does not make sense for google to buy Twitter, but it makes perfect sense for google to foster and help new players to enter that market.
A lot has been said about how important(sic) Twitter is in news-spreading. I remain skeptic.
I plan to blog about the Iran-Twitter affair soon (and I know most people won’t like that post), but a quick lesson learnt from the entire thing is that Twitter is neither a good nor reliable news source. It is a good alert system, granted, but if you need in-depth information, background or analysis you better seek some place else.
In what seems to be the trend with every new wave of web technologies (scrape the term technologies, this is not technology, call it “usage”) the signal to noise radio decreases. If you watch the entire river of tweets you’ll only spot a very tiny percentage that are meaningful in any way. Yet, I think enough has been said about the amount of rubbish going on in twitter all of the time.
Bottom line is: Would I buy Twitter stock? Probably not for the long run. Do I think Real time web is here to stay? yes it is, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
I thought I'd start honoring the "rambles and riff raff about all this and that" tagline on this blog starting a weekly unordered list of loosely connected thoughts. This fits everything that is on my mind but not long enough for a post on itself.
- Argentina is screwed as a country. Sad to say, but true nonetheless. Too much stuff going on and I don't want to blog about it no more.
- Less than a month to go for the opening of Beijing 2008. I should be freaking out, but I'm not. I do expect this weekend to be the last one I take off until August 8, 2008.
- Fairly happy with the recent buzz around the "Voices of the Olympic Games" program. Also some mentions around the "Podium". Great feedback, took some of that this week as you probably witnessed.
- Personal life is in turmoil, but for good.
- I've ditched twitter. Maybe for good, might go back to it for the games. I simply lost interest.
- My Spanish blog is almost ready. It is live, but still not "launched".
- I still hate translations. And it is only bound to get worst.
- I will never work for a TOP Olympic sponsor again in my life . I feel like I've pushed everything in my life (personal and professional) until "after the games". I'm starting to fear the emptiness inside I'll feel after the games are over. After all I have devoted the past 9 months to "Olympic Stuff".
- I miss blogging somewhat smartly.
I've ben using twitter for about a week now. This makes me nowhere near an expert, but gives me the insight that only brand new toys can provide, after all: first impressions count.
Here's the list of random observations:
- I wouldn't lasted a week if it wasn't for twhirl. The little tool is a must-have if you want to use twitter at all.
- There certainly is a very high noise ratio. That being said you can never know when a meaningless discussion can turn into an inspiring exchange of opinions. That is probably the one thing that might hook me permanently into twitter: the sheer randomness and expectation of the moment when a great thread might start.
- I don't know how some people can keep up with following 1000+ fellow twitters. Man, I don't know how Guy Kawasaki keeps up with 10k+!!! My own limit of people to follow will probably never go beyond 200. I'm at 68 at the time of writing this (and 43 followers).
- You get first-hand insights into breaking new technologies. More on that in a post soon to come.
- Once can easily get distracted and absorbed into twitter.
- I don't know how to measure anybody's success in twitter. Followers mean little (although people will follow other twitters who tend to say smart or previously unsaid things). The only way to know if someone is worth following is by reading a good bunch of their previous tweets. (note to self: my very own message history in twitter is worth nothing)
- I still don't know how twitter makes a living (suspect it has something to do with SMS text messages, but can't be sure).
- The platform needs stability and reliability Seriously.
- I know I'll regret posting this because spam follows me everywhere like a voodoo curse, but I haven't got a single piece of spam so far.
Bottom line: Is twitter worth something? yes. Will I keep using it? for the time being. More posts on this in the near future for sure.