This weekend, I opened up my Twitter account and read each message I had posted.
Then I deleted it.
And I kept reading and deleting until Twitter stopped showing me my messages – sometime around October 2009.
I started with more than 7200 ‘tweets’ and according to Twitter, I’ve 6,587 remaining.
Now if you visit /garrickvanburen you won’t see any of them. Seems as though Twitter has decided that anything I’ve written prior to, say, October 2009 is no longer available . But – if my profile says I have 6,587 ‘tweets’ – where are they?
I even searched for them via search.twitter.com;
” Older tweets are temporarily unavailable.”
If they’re not accessible – shouldn’t the number be 0?
I’m completely fine with Twitter being temporary. I think it should be (that’s why I mass deleted them anyway). I don’t think Twitter should be indexed by Google or Bing or any other service. The question is – how long should a give ‘tweet’ be accessible?
Update 25 June 2010: As of this morning, my Twitter account reads ‘0 tweets’. Makes me feel that Twitter doesn’t see any value in keeping the old stuff around and accessible. Feels very Logan’s Run. Not sure how I feel about this yet.
After maintaining years of awkward, inconsistent URL shortening behavior because of some vague argument about SMS capabilities – Twitter has announced links passed through their service may or may not be shortened to t.co.
At some point in late February – after 7,367 posts – I stopped visiting Twitter and deleted all the Twitter apps from my machines.
My world suddenly became more calm, more quiet, and I had more focus.
I’ve posted a handful of direct messages during that time – but nothing public.
In the past couple days, I’ve been visiting Twitter.com again and have found it as satisfying as a fifth Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut.
The @-replies, the retweets, the opaque URLs, the echo chamber-ness, and the cute passive-aggressive-ness all taste like the sugary frosting around 140 characters of emptiness.
Based on this graph from Compete.com, I wasn’t the only one visiting less.
Have I missed things that are important?
Maybe. Google’s ‘latest’ search captures most of the things I’m actively tracking (and if there’s a good way to see how empty 140 characters feels – compare it against other search results). For the rest – given how quickly the Twitter stream flows – quello che sarà, sarà.
Has it changed how I communicate?
Most definitely. I’m emailing and IM’ing more and I like that. More thoughtfulness, more conversational, more intimate, focused topics, far less twitchiness.
What happened on my Twitter account during that time?
My follower count remained static. I received a small number of direct messages and an even smaller number of @-replies. It left me with the distinct sense that maintaining engagement on Twitter is like pushing on a string – once direct pressure is no longer applied, movement stops.
In my work to bring Cullect back from hiatus, I’ve been doing a full code review and asking myself what should stay, what should be fixed, and what should go.
A number of the services Cullect originally integrated with no longer exist (Ma.gnol.ia for example). Cullect had fairly deep Twitter integration (at the time) but that seems extraordinarily less useful or valuable today.
Importance is difficult to discern with a 5-minute half-life.
Adding to that – I’ve got another project with fairly significant Twitter integration – and I’m just not terribly interested in building it out. Nor am I seeing the demand for it.
In my amateur understanding of hedge funds: the goal is to reduce risk and maximize returns by investing in assets that move in the opposite direction. The magic is in finding the complimentary assets.
A very simple example: if you see long term growth in the US stock market – a hedge would have 50% of your investment in the bond market, for stock and bonds prices often move in the opposite direction.
How does this metaphor extend to social media?
I’ve got a couple projects that would be interesting within a service like Twitter and I’d like to hedge my investment (development time). The question is – where are the complimentary assets?
Or, who wins when Twitter stumbles?
If people stop sending messages via Twitter – where does that communication flow?
Maybe. While they all offer a similar capability – they fell to similar (private, hosted, silos) to be complimentary.
WordPress.org – feels closer (free, open source, well documented, mature API). But, I have a hard time imagining people mass-installing WordPress in their own web space after having everything taken care of for them.
My favorite answer so far: Email.
What would your Social Media Hedge Fund portfolio be made of?