author – activist – faculty – mom
I love twitter and I do not love facebook. I know facebook is a powerful tool and can build community, but I am simply overwhelmed by the amount of information on facebook and the expectation that I will/should/can keep up with all of it. Twitter is like a dollhouse of information. Everything is miniature and manageable and you can carry it around in a little plastic house that snaps shut and has a handle on top.
But this week, the CEO of twitter is telling us about plans to expand from 140 characters to 10,000. That’s about 2,000 words. That’s not just an essay, that’s a loooooong essay for today’s internet user. Yes, I understand that 140 characters will show up with the option to expand to see the rest. But I already have that with people whose facebook page automatically posts to their twitter account. They have these introductions that cut off mid-sentence with a facebook link. I have to say, those annoy me. Either you’re tweeting or you aren’t.
Yes, I understand. I have those moments on twitter when I think, my brilliant reflection on this topic just doesn’t fit in 140 characters. And then I give myself a few choices. I can either do a series of 3 tweets (420 characters) or if I really have a lot to say, I can write about it on this very blog. Or if I think it’s of great interest to many, I write a pitch about it and send it to an editor at an internet media outlet. Bottom line, there will always be a pull to say more, but the beauty of twitter is that it forces us to get to the point.
I believe this move is a bit like New Coke in the 80s. I have never liked cola, so I learned about this famous marketing research failure from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink. Coke and Pepsi were competitors for the cola market, and people liked Pepsi better because it was sweeter. So Coke did taste tests and by sweetening it, they won consistently in taste tests. But a taste isn’t the same as drinking a whole soda. Gladwell used the word “cloying” to describe how a full serving of New Coke tasted. So Coke went back to what it had been previously, and called it “Coke Classic.”
I am convinced that if we go with the 10k, there will be a large backlash, and we’ll find ourselves with a Twitter Classic situation. Nobody wants a whole can of what most twitter users have to say, and if we do, we can go listen to them on other sites. Don’t do it, twitter.