Tim O’Reilly’s article Why I Love Twitter, which was published one year ago today, had a lot to do with my getting on Twitter. I’d been a long-time regular reader of Tim’s blog, so his strong endorsement of Twitter convinced me to give it a try. A year later, I’m glad I did. It’s been a great ride … So, as my way of saying Thanks, I’m excerpting his article below.

  1. Twitter is simple
    Twitter does one small thing, and does it well.
    See also comment by @mgco – “i couldn’t agree more, twitter = simplicity
  2. Twitter works like people do
    If I’m interested in someone, I don’t have to ask their permission to follow them. I don’t have to ask if they will be my friend: that is something that evolves naturally over time. … Twitter’s brilliant social architecture means that anyone can follow me, and I can follow anyone else … Gradually, through repeated contact, we become friends. …
  3. Twitter cooperates well with others
    Rather than loading itself down with features, it lets others extend its reach. There are dozens of powerful third-party interface programs; there are hundreds of add-on sites and tools. Twitter even lets competitors (like FriendFeed or Facebook) slurp its content into their services. But instead of strengthening them, it seems to strengthen Twitter. …
  4. Twitter transcends the web
    Like all of the key internet services today, Twitter is equally at home on the mobile phone. …
  5. Twitter is user-extensible
    The @syntax for referring to users, hashtags, …  were user-generated innovations that, because of Twitter’s simplicity, allowed for third party services to be layered not just on the API, but on the content.
  6. Twitter evolves quickly
    Perhaps because its features are so minimal, new user behaviors seem to propagate across Twitter really quickly. …The most fascinating evolution happening on Twitter isn’t an evolution of the software, but an evolution in user behavior and in the types of data that are being shared. … I saw this myself with retweeting … I became one of the most prolific retweeters … it’s fascinating to see the growth of retweeting …

[From Tim's concluding words]: In many ways, Twitter is a re-incarnation of the old Unix philosophy of simple, cooperating tools. The essence of Twitter is its constraints, the things it doesn’t do, and the way that its core services aren’t bound to a particular interface. … It strikes me that many of the programs that become enduring platforms have these same characteristics. … What’s different, of course, is that Twitter isn’t just a protocol. It’s also a database. … That means that they can let go of controlling the interface. The more other people build on Twitter, the better their position becomes.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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