Everyone and their cousin has been linking to this post by my pal Harry C. Marks—and with good reason. It’s a well thought out critique of Twitter’s current direction. I do, however, have to disagree with one point. Harry writes:
So, we’ll wait. We’ll watch the walls go up and moats get filled with the bacteria-laden waters of trending topics and promoted tweets. We’ll see our third-party houses burned and dissenting developers banished as King Dick and his roundtable of jesters try to play off the changes as “growth” and “maturity”. In reality, it’s about creating a new kingdom where the thinkers and inquirers are considered dangerous and must be pushed out.
While it’s true that Twitter’s response to the hue and cry of the Great and the Good will be essentially “fuck you” it won’t be because Twitter wants to push those users out. In reality, Twitter (or more accurately the venture capitalists who are calling the shots at Twitter) gives not one shit about the users who are the most incensed by these changes. As Harry himself points out earlier in his post, the people he’s referring to were never relevant to Twitter’s plans for monetization.
Let’s be honest, the blognoscenti can claim that they would accept ads in their timelines, if Twitter would just leave their precious third-party developers alone, all the live-long-day. Unfortunately the cold hard reality of ad-blockers, website “readability” tools and fevered blog posts decrying advertising say otherwise. The vast majority of these users were never going to spend a dime on any advertisement they saw on Twitter—and Twitter knows this.
And as for the claims that the Great Exodus of the Nerds will somehow ripple outward into the greater Twitter ecosystem—I’ll believe that when I see it. As I wrote previously the real danger to Twitter isn’t the loss of a John Gruber1, it’s the loss of a Justin Bieber2.
Unfortunately for Twitter, I see nothing in their recent behavior that indicates that they wouldn’t do something to alienate the Beebs either.