Is Our Twitter Myopia Setting Up A Crash?

I may be branded as a heretic or just plain ignorant, but is the flood of all things Twitter setting us up for a crash?

Let me set this up right first. I have been one of those few people calling for Twitter to become infrastructure. I have even built an application,, partially based on Twitter. However, there are a ton of applications being built solely on top of Twitter. My concern is that early adopters tend to be a little myopic when something hot comes along. Every day, there are several stories about new Twitter applications. Some are search related, some are new third party clients, and others are trying to coerce metadata out of the stream.

Why Am I Concerned?

Twitter has already shown that they want to own search on Twitter. It will not take much work for the Twitter team to launch something that tracks retweets (RTs). They have already included basic trends in the interface. With a few small features, Twitter could burst the bubble that is the third party application ecosystem.

This is a bad thing because so many people have built applications solely dependent upon Twitter. Why has this happened? Twitter’s API is very open. Their search features are also fairly open. This created a very low barrier to entry for Twitter based applications.

What Do We Need To Do?

As with any investment, we need to diversify. There are a lot of applications with APIs that could be integrated into your Twitter application. We have seen this with the third party clients and how they are including services like and Facebook. FriendFeed may not be getting as much attention, but that is likely due to the complexity of the application and the number of users that it has. There are also sites like Digg, Mixx and Reddit that have established communities and robust APIs. Where are the third party applications that build upon those experiences?

So, I ask the developers out there to diversify. Do not depend solely upon Twitter, or any one service, and we can avoid the problems that a single point of failure can bring. The other benefit is that if Twitter includes your main feature some day, you already have other services integrated and are still adding value.

3 thoughts on “Is Our Twitter Myopia Setting Up A Crash?

  1. Maybe a proprietary crackdown is what is needed to show users how bad closed centralized systems are. But it won’t happen – closed platform operators are greedy but not stupid : nowadays they know how to walk the fine line that allows them to keep control while developing a sufficient ecosystem that depend on them.

    That said, user frustration might be enough to tip them over the edge to open systems – especially when the developers of have made sure that their API is compatible with Twitter’s so that anyone who has developed for Twitter can trivially support any site too.


  2. Jean-Marc

    I am not worried about Twitter closing the API, but more along the lines of Twitter slowly adding features and killing half of the ecosystem. I am not a fan of a single system driving so much development, and there are other applications that are just as popular or more. Facebook gets a lot of coverage, but because they are more of a closed system, we do not see the same number of publicly available applications.

    Other social media has not gained as many developers either. Digg has a solid API and a ton of users too. Why did they not have a huge ecosystem? User frustration only gets us so far too. and are great ideas, but the ecosystem has a ways to go and there just aren’t as many users.

    Also, thanks for being a constant supporter of the blog. I can almost always count on you commenting 🙂


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