I was listening to the L33t Tech Podcast and they mentioned that Twitter developer Alex Paine said that one of the things that’s causing all the stability problems for them is that Twitter was never designed as a communications platform where people would have back & forth conversations, it was meant to be a CMS. Robert Scoble then said that the Twitter developers assumed that everyone would just answer their question “What are you doing?”
But now with the @replies and #hashtags people are using it for all sorts of different things. People are using it as a bookmarking service, a todo list and geo-locator and so on. Full-on conversations happen on Twitter. And although it may not be the best platform for it, once a conversation gets going, it tends to have its own momentum. Sure sometimes you can say “lets take this over to FriendFeed” or “lets go onto IM”, but if it’s a conversation where people have passionate opinions, that probably isn’t going to happen. People aren’t going to stop and think first. Usually.
Facebook ran into this same issue over the little word ‘is’. Originally all Facebook status messages started with ‘is’, as in ‘Glenn is wasting time on Facebook instead of working” (Anyone from the office reading this, that was just an example, really). They expected people to use it for the same purpose as twitter, as a ‘what are you doing/thinking right now’. But of course, people didn’t want to just do that, they wanted to be able to say other things, maybe things not directly about them, or maybe in a different tense. So you ended up with this weird Facebook-grammar like ‘Glenn is wow it’s really hot today’ (see this group for a good list of them), or you had to twist what you were going to say into something about you right now. So really, Facebook was slowly molding you into a narcissist.