I wrote recently that we could argue Twitter is too culturally important to fail because it is democratising. In fact, I am in favour of any product that levels the playing field:
- blogs enable anyone to have a voice and publish it on the web
- Twitter is the same but in 140 character chunks with a much greater chance of being seen as you can @mention people
- Instagram enables anyone to post pictures of a similar quality as, to a degree, its filters level out the photographer's skill
- Anchor removes the hassle from podcasting allowing anyone to record and share their spoken thoughts in two minute "waves"
- Talkshow enables people to have public conversations without unwanted interference from the audience
But things can often be easier and products step into the gaps like Medium has for blogging.
Twitter has long been criticised for being too difficult for new users to understand but, at its core, nothing could be simpler: anyone can create an account then instantly start sharing 140 character thoughts.
Where Twitter starts to become more complex is with the various conventions that have emerged over time, often at the behest of the user base. Perhaps we only have ourselves to blame for always wanting more features and a more mature experience.
Everyone will agree that its worst problem, however, is discovery and being discovered. Without interaction and acknowledgement tweeting just amounts to shouting into the wind.
And this is often why users leave.
At long last Twitter seems to have finally decided what it wants to be when it grows up.
Jack Dorsey's recent memo to staff repeated the "live" and "what's happening" stance we are used to but went one stage further by calling Twitter "the people's news network."
By the people, for the people. Democratising.
While other areas of Twitter's recent performance may have disappointed users, investors and potential acquirers alike, the one thing Dorsey has suddenly achieved since his return a year ago is the creation of the most cohesive narrative the network has ever had. It's just a shame he "spent a good part of the year getting to the truth" when the rest of us reached the same conclusion ages ago.
Dorsey's promise to "deliver a better Twitter faster than they thought possible" (they being Twitter's users) may be viewed with a mixture of skepticism and cynicism given the apparent failure of efforts so far, but without a definitive sense of direction any approach was bound to be scattergun.
Now that Twitter appears to have that direction perhaps it will also have a more defined destination with a clearer idea of how to get there.