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 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 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