Twitter – when users use your app creatively

I signed up for Twitter a while back. I’ve used it sporadically. The adoption of Twitter has gone up dramatically from what I’ve seen. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) Discoverability – It’s pretty easy to find new “friends” for your Twitter list. You can watch the main page for a while or you can look through your friends friends list. Then just click on their picture and add them to your list. Bingo, you’ve got a new friend. MySpace started this “gotta get them all” friend gathering trend. Twitter is just making use of it.

2) Ease-of-use – Twitter is dead simple to use. Just enter text in a box and hit submit. Once you set up your mobile phone or IM client (side note: Who decided on those IM clients? Who uses GTalk and Jabber? Get Yahoo, MSN,and ICQ on there Twitter!) just send a message. It figures out who you are based on your number/IM id and posts the update.

The discoverability aspect is how I found Steve Wozniak and added him to my friends list. So now, I get text messages telling me what Steve Wozniak is up to.

Steve Wozniak

The Woz.

The main reason most of us are in computing at all. One of the main reasons there IS a consumer computer industry. And now I know when went to Home Depot to buy a ladder. (Never mind. Turns out it wasn’t the real Wozniak. It was some dude being funny. One of the downsides to these services. Impersonation.(another side note. Have you noticed how accessible and approachable the Apple founders are? You can send an email to Steve Jobs and there’s a good chance he’ll read it. Wozniak has had a public cell phone number for quite some time. Glide past Bill Gates house and security comes out to glare at you. Forget calling him. Anyway).
In the past, adding someone to your IM list has been a somewhat stressful situation. The have to accept your invitation. And even assuming they accept your invitation, really popular people would eventually run into artificial limits on the number of friends/contacts your IM client could have. But here, I just add The Woz some jackass as a friend and there he is. He doesn’t have to know who I am. He doesn’t have to reject me. He just signs up and I just add him.

The “problem” now

I hesitate to call this a “problem” because the Twitter designers may have had this in mind when they built the system. People are using Twitter as more of a Instant Messaging system than a “what am I doing now” notification system. That’s pretty cool. But it makes for an interesting conversation. When you add a couple of friends, they may be having conversations with one or two other people and you only see your friends response. You may only see 1/2 or even 1/32 of the conversation.

I’m finding that it’s a really low-bandwidth way to follow conversations. I added a bunch of the popular kids (Scoble, Pirillo, and Leo Laporte) as friends (including some people I’ve met but haven’t seen in quite a while) and installed Twitterific and Twitteroo. But for the most part, I stuck with people that I’ve met in real life and could probably recognize me if they saw me. It’s easy to see why this is taking off. It’s both addictive and personal.

BUT

I can’t see this becoming mainstream. Not enough people sit at a computer to make this ubiquitous. And SMS is still too big of a pain to do. I can’t see my wife stopping on her way out the door with my daughter to text “off to Sponge School” to Twitter. My daughter in 10 years or so will probably use a service very similar to this, if not the same Twitter we know and love now.

Now. Who can think of a game to play with Twitter?