What’s happening with applications on Twitter?

There’s something about Twitter‘s recent decisions that just doesn’t make any sense to me at the moment.

It’s experiencing huge growth and celebrity adoption, it’s appearing in mainstream media (Even The Sun is carrying stories about Twitter),  and it has some money in the bank.

But one of the big advantages of the Twitter model is that it can use the huge advantage of external developers and applications undertaking the risky part of establishing themselves before acquiring them or introducing something similar.

After all, Twitter acquired Summize to become Twitter Search.

But since then, things have been a little different. First Twitter acquired Values of n, the company behind Stikkit and I Want Sandy, with Rael Dornfest joining Twitter’s user experience group – and the former services being shut, which caused some outcry, and a group of developers to come together to create an open source version of Sandy.

Recently Twitter introduced a ‘suggested users‘ page for new registrations and alongside the options to find other members. Which seemed like a reasonable idea to encourage new users to start following and interacting with other members.

Sadly it’s rubbish. For two reasons.

  • There’s no relevancy. It’s offered to new users before they have filled in profile details or sent any messages, meaning thatthe suggestions have no context, and are pretty much useless. And although many people have said this could be the start of monetisation, how much money do irrelevant friend suggestions make?
  • There are far better options out there already. For new users with no context, why not simply let people take a look at relevant categories on Twitter user directory Twellow? And if you’re looking for relevant suggestions for people to follow, there’s already the totally awesome MrTweet. (Interview here)
The only time I've mentioned a whale, it had 'fail' in front of it!

The only time I've mentioned a whale, it had 'fail' in front of it!

Much better suggestions and information from MrTweet

Much better suggestions and information from MrTweet

And now there’s concern over the decision to limit API calls from applications. I’m not aware of how many calls are average, so take a look at Jesse Stay’s thoughts on the SocialToo blog, Mark Evans at Twitterati, or SocialToo advisor Louis Gray (Who very kindly recommended and linked to 140char today!)

The idea from Twitter’s perspective is to ensure reliability – which is certainly understandable giving the problems that sometimes occur – and the only services that aren’t viable any longer are those which notify you of people unfollowing, such as Qwitter (no longer with us) . But as Marshall Kirkpatrick writes at ReadWriteWeb, Twitter applications are developing incredibly fast and this could hurt anyone trying to offer something radically new. And as Rafe Needleman points out at Cnet, it seems very odd that Twitter hasn’t used this chance to partner with external developers.

On the bright side, the API limit should force more efficient use of the Twitter API, which will benefit everyone, and the Twitter Firehose and OAuth support are due within around a month.

Hopefully that will mean Twitter can stop worrying about the scalability and learn to love external applications again. Especially as they’re building financial models (e.g. Twittad and Magpie), and monetisable services (e.g. Stocktwit) which show where the cash is for Twitter without the internal team having to experiment at all.

Two adverts that irritate the s*** out of me

It’s the perfect time for ranting as I’m still feeling a bit poorly, so I thought I’d highlight two television adverts currently irritating the hell out of me.

First up, is the PG Tips homage to a Morecombe and Wise sketch, mainly because it’s so completely irrelevant to me, but seems to be on constant repeat at the moment on the channels I tend to watch. Especially Film 4, completely distracting me from whichever movie I’m watching.

  • I’m in my (very early) 30s, and Morecombe and Wise had pretty much peaked before my time
  • Even then, the PG Tips ad isn’t as good as I remember the original sketch being.
  • But most of all, I don’t drink tea, and neither does my partner.

I realise the last point marks me as being outside of the target demographic of the tea industry, and so they won’t count me as being a huge loss or influential. There are currently two packets of tea in the house, both of which have probably been here since we moved in – one posh packet which my parents probably brought with them out of desperation, and one cheap packet for any guests who didn’t fancy the posh stuff.

But the fact I’m not a tea-makers target is exactly my point. I’ll never buy it. I’ll never talk to anyone about buying it. And I don’t have the necessary technology to avoid it. So why inflict it on me?

But that’s just a case of traditional irrelevance – there’s a far worse offender out there:

Oh Sweet Lord.

It comes from Norwich Union, soon to be renamed as Aviva, as it’s part of the Aviva group and known under that name internationally. So changing the name might make sense from an efficiency point of view, particularly when job cuts are being repeatedly announced.

But what I don’t get, and I’m trying not to use the word ‘brand’ to join Mark Earls, is the way it has been done. For starters, they’ve had to pay Bruce Willis, Elle MacPherson, Alice Cooper and Ringo Star to talk about how they wouldn’t have had fame and fortune without changing their name.

That’s right. Forget starring in Die Hard, or being part of the Beatles. Or any inference their stardom is down to talent, luck and making the right career choices. After all, if only Molly Ringwald had changed her name, rather than turning down the lead roles in Pretty Woman and Ghost, for example. I won’t even mention Engelbert Humperdinck.

Or the fact that most actors in the UK change their names due to Equity rules stating there can’t be two performers with the same name.

We get a voiceover telling us how changing our name can allow us to become who we want to be, and that Norwich Union is becoming Aviva after over 200 years of the same name. (My first thought was the confusion with the bus company, Arriva, that served my hometown)

But what it doesn’t tell us is what NU/Aviva wants to be.

There’s no reasoning, no belief, and nothing to make anyone think this is more than an attempt to save money on headed stationary.

Why couldn’t they use the name change to publish a clear belief which might benefit consumers, and could be easily said and repeated? ‘We’re changing the name, and making sure you never wait longer than 30 seconds in a phone queue’ for example, or ‘We’re changing the name be more efficient, so we can lower our prices by 5% when you renew’. Or even just some honesty ‘We’re changing the name to save some money and stay in business in tough times – so you don’t lose your insurance cover when you might need it’.

Has no-one else ever watched Crazy People?

Every Single One of Us should look at Every Single One of Us

I’m learning that you can always rely on someone like Jonathan MacDonald going that bit further! And he’s certainly doing that by driving a new movement with a simple aim ‘making communication better‘. It’s well worth taking a look at Every Single One of Us for the whole story, and then making sure you subscribe to hear about any updates.

From Every Single One of Us:

The world we are now in, will show an astronomical shift in commercial budget toward this area – but currently, few people know for sure how this can come about.

There are a number of reasons why that is and this movement proposes the following 4:

  • A lack of pertinent information
  • A lack of understanding how to interpret information
  • A lack of will to action on information
  • A lack of skill to action on information

Taking these 4 points and applying them to any other nascent situation, we see they are common.

In our ‘No Way Back From Here’ volume, we will apply these 4 points )although some may already have one or more covered).

For example, you may have the will to action on information and a great deal of skill, however there may be gaps in the understanding or access levels. The gun is loaded, you know how to fire it, but why, at whom and when?

Alternatively, you may have the world’s leading information from research and popular opinion, but lack the will or skill to action anything.

Its all OK. We are all ‘right’.

It doesn’t matter which part you are involved with or which part you are ‘covered’ on. We can move things forward together – but this movement proposes we first need a way to ensure we all have access to the information required for us to collectively interpret it (or at least, those that wish to).

Once we have this, we can help others gain the will to action and the skills to do so (if they desire).

He’s also laid out a 7 step plan to achieve this, as well as initial activities within step 1 – covering the lay of the land. It includes a major research project, a series of TV interviews, an ongoing series of conferences, seminars, workshops and master-classes, information gathering and looking at VRM.

I think this is probably one of the movements with the clearest idea of purpose and direction, and possibly most likely to succeed in achieving some sizeable goals, judging by the starting point. The biggest risk might be Jonathan exhausting the rest of us….

Seriously, go to http://www.everysingleoneofus.com right now, if you haven’t already. And take some time to look at what’s being established…