Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Past, Present, and Future of Twitter

Lost — by me — amongst the Apple news was marking the tenth anniversary of Twitter on March 21. I’ve been a user for almost nine years, and it’s come a long way since — if you’d told me in 2007 that it would one day become a publicly-traded company, I’d have been shocked.

Sarah Frier, Felix Gillette, and Brad Stone of Bloomberg interviewed Jack Dorsey to mark the occasion. There’s a lot of PR- and business-speak in here, as you might expect for an interview between a CEO and a financial magazine targeted towards investors, but there’s actual stuff of value, too:

We excel when something is happening in the world. Like, you know, Michael Jackson just died, or there was an attack, or there’s a debate.

But when there’s a lull, the Internet creates something. So what color is this dress? And then that becomes a live event. Even when there’s nothing happening of note, something is created. We’re not just a push-live broadcast mechanism; we’re a conversation.

Dorsey’s right: Twitter excels at real-time multiparty conversation. But, for a while now, it has felt as though they haven’t honed in on a direction that enhances that aspect. The features that have made Twitter so great for that — mentions, retweets, and hashtags — were all created first by users and then officially added to the platform and API later. Does Twitter need much beyond that — apart from better moderation of toxic users — to be a great tool for live conversation?