Thursday, September 30, 2010

Decline of Tweet Density?

After seeing a threaded tweet conversation for the first time the other day (something both Twitter for iPhone, and #newtwitter support), the impact of lacking threads hit me. For years we've been replying to tweets without much prior context. Each tweet has had to stand alone, and that caused us to pack an intense amount of info into 140 characters. Quipy communicators thrive on Twitter, however more contextual communicators have been supressed.

The result is that Twitter timelines have become bursts of disconnected expression, rather than a more traditional communication stream. Threaded message UI allows the platform to take on new communication meaning. We can now see connected conversation context when consuming our timelines.

While this is great from one perspective, I wonder if it will water down the overall signal of Twitter. Here are some before and after examples.

Before
Joe - "This hotel lobby is beautiful... one of the nicest I've ever seen."
Jane - "Hoping to have a fun time tonight. It's so good to have friends in town."

After
Joe - "This hotel lobby is beautiful... one of the nicest I've ever seen."
Jane - "@joe, agreed isn't it nice."

Notice that without convenient threaded UI, Jane's Tweet in the "after" case doesn't stand alone very well. It needs the context of the prior Tweet to have meaning.

I suspect this means all Twitter clients are going to have to support threaded conversations soon, otherwise the user base will lose interest in watching shallow, context free, tweets fly by.

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