TwitterTwitter acknowledges that around 40% of its users do not tweet – they are consumers and must still be catered for; the company also needs to find a way to encourage them to interact further.

The writing has been on the wall for change for over 18 months.

April 2011:

It is widely accepted that Twitter is not for everyone but this may be a limitation of the timeline format. Perhaps it is time for a bit of a shake-up – they call themselves a consumption company now after all.

December 2011:

By placing an emphasis on content over people Twitter is making moves in a new direction which could encourage users to tweet and I feel that we will see the #discover tab iterate relatively quickly to facilitate this.

and…

Enabling people to comment on stories rather than reply to individual users or tweets Twitter may be able to kick-start the transition from being just consumers.

January 2012

Summify’s ability to filter your feed and pull out the salient items would be an ideal way of enhancing the #discover tab by presenting more personalised news based on your own network rather than a generic list from trending topics.

February 2012:

The feed is dead

Now that our feed is predominantly awash in a sea of links it is not a very inviting place. Perhaps the time has come for Twitter to move away from this means of display and instead use a new enhanced #discover tab as the primary view when arriving at the site.

and…

Could Twitter actually become a place where we “consume” news first and talk about it after? Is this too radical a shift from the service we all know and love or is it a logical conclusion based on recent events?

All fanciful ramblings perhaps.

But now, Dalton Caldwell (co-founder of App.net) has proclaimed that Twitter is pivoting:

The Discover tab is the future. Rather than forcing normal users to make sense of a realtime stream, they can see what content is trending.

and…

The main reason that “normal users” would write messages is as a backchannel to discuss media events such as the Olympics, Election Coverage, or a new television show.

Different message

Dalton is arguing that Twitter will complete its move away from being a social network to an information/media company – the idea is the same but the message is very different.

Where I have argued that Twitter needs to change to better facilitate content discovery in an age where the feed is a sea of noise Dalton suggests that Twitter is abandoning its roots (and consequently its users) in a thinly veiled attempt to further promote App.net.

He asks “how is Twitter going to pull off their mid-flight pivot?” but I have already answered: by making #discover the primary view. The feed will still be there but the average consumer will be watching a media channel.

Sometimes it’s hard being a small voice thinking no one can hear you, especially when a big voice stands up to say the same thing 18 months later (albeit with an ulterior motive) and the world takes notice.


 
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