The New Twitter

December 12th, 2011 by admin.

Twitter is in the midst of launching a complete redesign of its service, which will either – once and for all – clarify the purpose of this trend in our personal and business lives…or – once again – confuse most of us as to why everyone is so excitedly asking us to “follow” one another.

Despite my consistent use of the service, I grew frustrated with the Twittersphere nearly 3 years ago. Indeed, my very first tweet was a cynical jab at the concept: “To tweet to who? The owlish academic in me wants to understand the long term value in this app…so far not seeing it, but give me some time”…

My criticism waned a little as I developed a set of principles to follow, in the case of my own use. I would not tweet content, unless (with the exception of conversations) it was informative, inspiring, challenging, educational, enlightening, or empowering. I still remained ambivalent, though, due to the widespread practice of most Twits (I use the term in both its connotations) to ignore the content of Twitter feeds, and focus instead on the volume of their followers. In the absence of clearly digestible value, Twitter has grown to become a points scoring mechanism, whereby users randomly follow as many account holders as possible, in the expectation that those strangers will immediately follow them back. If this convention is not slavishly honored, the initial outreach is unceremoniously rescinded, and the fishing expedition continues. As a result, it is not uncommon to see mundane twitter accounts followed by tens of thousands of other users, simply due to the fact that those users are returning the favor of an initial “follow”. Nobody bothers to read each other’s tweets, and nobody has any idea, in truth, what the final objective of this scavenger hunt may be, but the primitive desire to amass more than our neighbor continues.

The new Twitter incorporates some changes that might encourage the Twitterverse to grow up a little, and find a truly valuable purpose in the platform. There’s no denying that Twitter has been an extraordinary tool in geopolitical change making. The Arab Spring, Russian protests, and Occupy movements are testament to the fact that this cannot be laughed off as little more than a mindless time suck. However, the value of Twitter in our everyday lives is still in flux. Is it a news broadcasting channel? Is it an infosource? Is it a multidirectional conversational “egosystem”? Opinions and articles abound, but clear direction has remained conspicuously absent, until now.

The new Twitter, as it rolls out, proposes to move its user base more in to the conversational ecosystem, in which only some have indulged, to date. Embedded Tweets will now become multifunctional media sparks, transportable and interactive as never before. The “#Discover” tab will encourage a degree of exploration and interaction heretofore ignored (or, if you’re feeling charitable, unseen). The “@Connect” tab, while still somewhat encouraging of self-absorbed grandstanding, will also open the door to less self-centered time-sensitive call-and-response interactions between accounts. Add to all this the new “Brand pages”, and you now have a brand positioning framework more akin to Google+ and Facebook…

Do you use Twitter? What do you like about it? What frustrates you still? Have you been switched over to the new UX, yet?

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