god: i have made Mankind— u have won a bear (@jon_snow_420) October 28, 2015
angels: you fucked up a perfectly good monkey is what you did. look at it. it's got anxiety
Twitter, in principle, could have been invented at any point in the history of the internet. A big networked message board with an upper limit of 140 characters? It sounds like something a resource-conserving developer would have invented before web browsers existed. A few hundred people would have used it, and it would have been legendary. Maybe a few thousand.
A translation guide for software engineers (by btco@) pic.twitter.com/cOlVCmdne6— Ikai Lan ???? (@ikai) June 1, 2014
Instead, Twitter happened in the early days of developing for mobile devices (originally, not even phones but pagers), when there were a critical mass of intense and casual users, and mass network graphs were quickly becoming the new hotness for software companies. You could get scale in a hurry, you needed scale after a certain point to survive.
First full day as Twitter COO tomorrow. Task #1: undermine CEO, consolidate power.— dick costolo (@dickc) September 13, 2009
And so we have this bizarre new communication platform-meets-vernacular art form. Which may end up killing us all. But first…
Everything happens so much— Horse ebooks (@Horse_ebooks) June 28, 2012
Jason joined Twitter in early 2007 and naturally, wrote about it intelligently and presciently here on Kottke.org. The first mention is in a kinda-sorta-liveblog of Steve Jobs’s legendary iPhone keynote, and makes Twitter sound like a new tech site. This is where I, personally, found out about it, although I didn’t sign up until a little later.
Playing with Twitter reminds me of blogging circa 2000. Back then, all weblogs were personal in nature and most people used them to communicate with their friends and family. If I wanted to know what my friends were up to back then, I read their blogs. Now I follow Twitter (and Flickr and Vox).
The reaction to Twitter mirrors the initial reaction to weblogs…the same tired “this is going to ruin the web” and “who cares what you ate for dinner” arguments…
When one thing (i.e. Twitter) is easier than something else (i.e. blogging) and offers almost the same benefits, people will use it.
As you might know, I am a full time Internet— Horse ebooks (@Horse_ebooks) February 24, 2012
I’d completely forgotten about this post, and it’s totally amazing.
[One] way of thinking about how to choose web projects is to take something that everyone does with their friends and make it public and permanent. (Permanent as in permalinked.) Examples:
- Blogger, 1999. Blog posts = public email messages. Instead of “Dear Bob, Check out this movie.” it’s “Dear People I May or May Not Know Who Are Interested in Film Noir, Check out this movie and if you like it, maybe we can be friends.”
- Twitter, 2006. Twitter = public IM. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that one of the people responsible for Blogger is also responsible for Twitter.
- Flickr, 2004. Flickr = public photo sharing. Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake said in a recent interview: “When we started the company, there were dozens of other photosharing companies such as Shutterfly, but on those sites there was no such thing as a public photograph — it didn’t even exist as a concept — so the idea of something ‘public’ changed the whole idea of Flickr.”
- YouTube, 2005. YouTube = public home videos. Bob Saget was onto something.
I'm sorry Ms. Jackson (Oooooo)/ I am four eels/ Never meant to make your daughter cry/ I am several fish and not a guy— j. nalven ???????? (@JNalv) February 20, 2013
Some successful tweets seem predictable given the restrictions on the form — wordplay, pop culture mashups, classic setup-and-punchline jokes. But why are weird little micronarratives so compelling?
i fear my tropical fish no longer respect me after i accidetnally stumbled backwards & smushed my ass hole right up against their $3000 tank— wint (@dril) March 20, 2017
TSA agent (checking my ID): "Hawk, like that skateboarder Tony Hawk!"— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) March 21, 2017
Her: "Cool, I wonder what he's up to these days"
And on a platform packed with self-promoting brands, cynical media types, and actual Nazis, why do we love sweet, sincere animals who talk? (Wait, I may have just answered my own question)
This is Pipsy. He is a fluffball. Enjoys traveling the sea & getting tangled in leash. 12/10 I would kill for Pipsy pic.twitter.com/h9R0EwKd9X— WeRateDogsâ¢ (@dog_rates) November 19, 2015
@brant they're good dogs Brent— WeRateDogsâ¢ (@dog_rates) September 12, 2016
Ten years later, I don’t know why Twitter is, but I’m glad that it does.
Twitter: smell this, it’s awful— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) April 16, 2017