Targeting Twitter is the New Pink

Now that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, (well, her office anyway) has joined Twitter, you really know it’s about time we fire up the “Jump the Shark moment” clamoring (Nuke the Fridge even?).

As we stroll along towards the great mainstreaming of Twitter (I’m still not buying it), it’s no question that it’ll get elevated to a more regular level of curiosity and ridicule. The first sign, as passed around several times this week, was the below clip of Jon Stewart “shaking his fist” at technology:

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I want to make one quick point and move on: for everyone watching this clip and gleefully enjoying that “they’re inside on the joke,” make sure to listen to Stewart carefully because there’s some advice in there. The point of ridicule here isn’t that everyone’s using it: it’s that some people use it as a gimmick instead of an informative platform. Stewart’s rant should not come off, “Hey! everyone’s talking about Twitter now, we did it!” He’s not mocking the tool (or it’s popularity); he’s mocking those who treat it like a “shiny thing.”

It wasn’t just “Old Man Stewart” taking cheap shots this week; on the other end of the spectrum was a down-nose look from Google CEO, Eric Shmidt:

“In other words, they have aspects of an email system, but they don’t have a full offering. To me, the question about companies like Twitter is: Do they fundamentally evolve as sort of a note phenomenon, or do they fundamentally evolve to have storage, revocation, identity, and all the other aspects that traditional email systems have? Or do email systems themselves broaden what they do to take on some of that characteristic?

[…]

“Twitter’s success is wonderful, and I think it shows you that there are many, many new ways to reach and communicate, especially if you are willing to do so publicly.”

Since then, Schmidt has backtracked a little on his comments, but it’s still worth considering his point.

I’ve found myself explaining Twitter a lot, recently, and I don’t think I’ve ever compared it to e-mail. In fact, my most common simile is the AIM Away Message, but with interaction.

But never e-mail. Just because there is a direct messaging system that notifies via e-mail (I’d actually say its more like SMS ultimately), it’s hardly the same. The public facing nature of it is exactly what makes it different than an IM client and e-mail. Storage isn’t the purpose, and, a fundamental difference is that you can’t link to an e-mail. You have to send it. E-mail may be someone’s online home, but links are still the currency.

The target is squarely on Twitter’s back – FailWhales and all kinks better be out as the scaling starts happening faster. Luckily, SXSW is right around the corner, so we won’t have to wait long. This year’s theme: “Back in the Day.”

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