Replacing Twitter - easier said than done

June 30, 2012 - twitter

The normally unflappable Brent Simmons suggests we replace twitter with ‘nothing’. This is an interesting yet logistically improbable approach — I’ve tried to enumerate the challenges here, along with the reasons why I think it won’t happen.

Brent’s suggestion revolves around replacing twitter status updates with RSS feeds, extending this with a published ‘following’ list, and relying on a nascent third party service(s) for searching & mentions.

The challenges:

None of these challenges are insurmountable, but I doubt if any can be properly overcome without the resources of a well-funded (i.e. commercial) organisation. Indexing/searching in particular is going to be expensive. A successful service is going to provide hosting, identity, a good API, value-adding development etc — which will need to be funded somehow — at which point you have another twitter.

My belief is that twitter as it currently exists is the result of innumerable obvious & non-obvious market forces, and despite many people desiring otherwise, it’s the optimum solution based on the current circumstances. That’s not to say it can’t be disrupted by a different model in the future (and it’s certainly incumbent upon us to explore this, as Brent has, in the hope we’ll find it), but I don’t think this is it.