“These are all fundamental aspects of Twitter, and they have been mangled. And these items do not even get into the more technical issues with Twitter’s API implementation, which I could write another blog post about. Or about how Twitter took a vibrant ecosystem full of capable developers excited about their platform that other companies can only dream about, and flushed it down the toilet.”

“From top to bottom Twitter has made product mistake after product mistake, fundamental and obvious mistakes that have significantly confused and detracted from the simplicity of the service, for little or no gain. The DickBar is just yet another of these, not some existential struggle for monetization.” – Eric Woodward


“In case it isn’t obvious, Twitter is a morass of inconsistent rules…” – Dave Winer

Terms of Services Kinda Like Open Licenses – But Evil

The Combined Arms Research Library has a good post on the upside of the latest version of Twitter’s terms of service (“Twitter can do WHAT with your photos?“) .

The language is very similar to the MIT/X11 License in that the copyright holder is licensing their work to others and the licensees can do as they wish with the work – adapt, distribute, sell, etc. In the case of the MIT/X11 – those freedoms apply to everyone. In the case of Twitter’s Terms of Service – it’s just, um, Twitter Corp.

Yes, Facebook’s, Blogger’s, TypePad’s, WordPress.com’s, Tumblr’s, Posterous’s, and many others‘ terms of service all have similar language.

It’d be far more interesting, innovative, and plain simpler, if the lawyers at these services declared anything published through them was automatically licensed under a more well-known license like the MIT/X11, GPL, or Creative Commons. That license change would also be a boon for the driving creative innovation around that work and become a magnet for people interested in publishing under these open terms. Instead, it feels like these services are trying to get away with stealing.

While music and book publishers are being chastised for crazy low royalty rates – social networks have eliminated them completely and are praised for their innovativeness.

Rightfully so – they’ve attracted millions of creators and eliminated both the advance to create the work and the royalties on its commercial usage.


“We tend to like the primary uses of that data (Amazon book recommendations), it’s the secondary uses we’re not so crazy about (third-party datamines sold to anyone for anything).” – Bruce Schneier, DefCon 15, 2007

“Any smart CEO would kill to have a product like you that doesn’t cost anything and keeps renewing itself indefinitely so it can be sold and resold and resold to many different customers.” – Jacques Vallee

“Remember that time you quit Twitter”


One of the Ebook Backers noticed that while the essays in the ebook (and on this blog) talk about how I zero’d out my Twitter account after a month long hiatus – but as of his reading – I was as active as ever.

Yes – as they say on The Facebooks – It’s complicated.

Since the release of #newtwitter, I’ve noticed – consistent with Twitter Corps intentions – 90% of my interaction with Twitter don’t require an account, or interaction with fellow tweakers.

Add in the reports saying a tweet’s lifespan is between 5 minutes and 1 hour Twitter is too close to screaming into the abyss for me.

@garrickvanburen has been permanently deactivated.

Update 2 Dec 2010:
In the 2+ months since I’ve deactivated my Twitter account – 3 people (out of more than 1300 followers) have noticed enough to ask me about it.

Other Qwitters:

“I’ve been fortunate to escape..” – Daniel Bachhuber

“After the initial thrill of discovering that past and present could be joined together in a synaptic twist of fate, the intoxicating rush of chemicals began to wear off, exposing a hole that drained all of my original enthusiasm, reducing me to a caricature of my former self.” – Stephen Gordon

Twitter Poured Cement in a Bucket of Rocks

The barrel gets filled with stones whose size represents the size of the market-opportunity. Operating systems and office-applications are boulders; there’s only room for a few of each. Here, a glance, the barrel is full. But, of course, there’s lots of space between the boulders. This space is can be filled with rocks, and the space between rock with pebbles and so on. – Dan Grigsby paraphrasing Eric Sink.

This Barrel of Rocks analogy has been rolling around in my mind quite a bit lately.

Being able to explore the open spaces in an ecosystem and find one that fits is what excites me about new technologies – web, RSS, podcasting, Twitter, web fonts, Apple’s iPad, and even my new Nokia N900. I quickly lose interest if I’m not able to find a space or if it starts feeling like an iron maiden. That’s why I sold my iPad and gave away my iPod Touch – I didn’t find my space.

Last night – Twitter started the roll out of New Twitter. Word is – it’s completely built on their own API platform and formally integrates 16 other services (Youtube, Flickr, etc).

Additionally, Twitter Corp recently acquired a client in each of the major mobile platforms (iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android), and turned off username/password access to applications connecting with the Twitter API, and is migrating to their own t.co URL shortener for all URLs passed around in their service.

Each one of these points makes it significantly more difficult to use Twitter in ways Twitter Corp doesn’t intend (not unlike Apple approving every app in their app store). Each open space is being filled with a Twitter-branded or Twitter-partner service. They’ve poured cement in their big bucket of rocks.

Point #9 of Liz Gannes article at GigaOm tells the real story:

“Another big platform project, Annotations, has been put on hold, because the infrastructure team was working on the Twitter.com launch, Sarver said.”

The ‘Annotations’ project was all about a fuller, more data-rich Twitter API. Of course it was put on hold – in the New Twitter world there’s a significantly decreased incentive to expose the API to non-Twitter-controlled properties.

Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if Twitter just turned off their API at the end of the year.

Reminds me of a prediction I made back in 2009.

“there’s an argument that I live 2 years into the future. If that’s the case – then sometime between now and March 2011, Twitter (the organization) is no longer relevant.


“For the first few years of Twitter encouraged guys like me to write little hack jobs to make it do things they didn’t have time to make it do. So I did. What’s the point if you don’t continue to support that work.” – Dave Winer

Killing Time

This morning, even before my first cup of coffee – I went through my stable of Twitter accounts and started deactivating them. Easier and more straightforward than I expected.

That was before Leo Laporte’s Buzz Kill post hit my radar:

“It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.” – Leo Laporte

Twitter’s a Memory Hole

“…it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.” – George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

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 [1]. 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?

Nine months seems as arbitrary as 140 character limit and killing off basic auth in August.

So, how long should a ‘tweet’ live?

If Twitter’s goal is to capture the zeitgeist in real-time, how long does it take for a moment to pass?

5 minutes? 1 hour? 24 hours? 1 beat?

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.

Shortly Over Part 2: Twitter Returns Long URLs

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.

“A really long link such as http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048 might be wrapped as http://t.co/DRo0trj for display on SMS, but it could be displayed to web or application users as amazon.com/Delivering- or as the whole URL or page title. Ultimately, we want to display links in a way that removes the obscurity of shortened link and lets you know where a link will take you.”

This is a win for the casual users of Twitter that still send & receive URLs through the service.

Shortly Over Part 1

Find ‘Twitter’, Replace with ‘Second Life’


In the past week both Apple and Twitter have carpet bombed on their respective development communities. As I’ve written about previously – I’ve been off Twitter now for nearly 2 months.

This week an interesting switch flipped in my head.

When I hear ‘Twitter’, my head replaces it with another corporate site I have little presence within. Most often it’s ‘World of Warcraft’ or ‘Second Life’. Sometimes it’s ‘MySpace’.

It gives whatever statement a quaint, historical tint to it. Rather than the blanket of pretension I’ve been feeling lately.


“Twitter vs Facebook battle he alludes to is already over, and Facebook wins….There’s just more value in being able to share anything.” – Fred Oliveira

“When [Twitter’s] conversion to OAuth is complete they will be in a position to instantly block any application they don’t like, which they have already started doing. “-Eric Woodward

I’m Garrick and I’ve Been Twitter Free for 30 Days.

“You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 17

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.

Yes, this post is primarily to put a bookend on my my archive of Twitter-related archive.

Want to discuss this further? Drop me an email or IM.

Hat tip to Jamie for the intro quote.

Update 24 March 2010:
I just received this message from Klout.com

“Our analysis shows that your influence on Twitter has dropped from 30 to 8. There are a lot of reasons this could have happened but don’t worry, we are going to help you become more influential!..”

“…can the zeitgeist get so toxic that disconnecting from it is the smart play from a mental health perspective?” – Dave Slusher

Update 2 April 2010:
It occurs to me that Retweeting is Email-forwarding’s lazier cousin.

Update 21 April 2010:
I finally found a line I wrote in June 22, 2009:

“there’s an argument that I live 2 years into the future. If that’s the case – then sometime between now and March 2011, Twitter (the organization) is no longer relevant.”


“When I Tweet, nothing much happens for me other than reducing my incentive and motivation to create anything else. That seems like an obviously pretty bad deal in every way you slice it.” – Dave Slusher

“I’m well into my social media vacation….I’m not sure I’m ever coming back….There is a calmness and peace to my days…” – Dave Slusher