Twitter's evolution from a tech network to a mainstream mashup

Twitter's evolution from a tech network to a mainstream mashup

When Twitter started out it was used almost exclusively by geeky tech types, first as a way to stay connected at conferences, and later as a general water cooler to keep in touch, network and exchange ideas, and blow off some steam. Today, Twitter is a massive mainstream mashup where many if not most users #hashtag every second word, follow hundreds of real-world celebrities, almost never use direct messages, but actually, really, truly do use the Discover tab. Matthew Panzarino from The Next Web, an early-days user, decided to start a new account some seven years later and see what the modern, far more populous Twitter felt like for first time users.

Right now, Twitter is a product in transition. Onboarding new users is still a work in progress, retaining those users is a moving target, and making sure that the experience is as friendly as possible to media content is an unfinished job. But there are glimmers of brilliance here, and signs that the transition to a strong second act might actually work.

Panzarino gives a thorough breakdown of the sign-up process, Twitter's attempt to help create connections, and the general usability of the product. Sadly, he in no way uses #WhyISmile #wordstoliveby or #americanidol enough, and could probably stand to follow 10x more Biebers and SHAQs just to get the full and proper new Twitter feel.

There are many, even new users, who still use Twitter as a tech network, as much as is possible, even as others have moved over to (ADN) for that instead. Like any big network, smaller subsets form and eddy about, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking, sometimes merging, and sometimes breaking away. Whether you love Twitter now more or less than in its early days, it's amazing to see the changes that have taken place over the years, and even more amazing to think of where the next 5 or 10 could take it.

The web is littered with the bodies of dead social networks, killed by poor direction from the top, and user migration from the bottom. Twitter's trying not to become one of them. Check out Panazarino's piece via the link below and let me know -- how well do you think they're succeeding?

Source: The Next Web

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Twitter's evolution from a tech network to a mainstream mashup


I use Twitter mainly as a news feed and I have no shortage of news I follow, many times it's hard to stay reading all the things I want because I'm afraid when I get to the top I'll have another 50 things to read. I post from time to time but I think I should probably post more and be more interactive with it. We'll see where Twitter takes itself and if they can avoid the death blow of social networks.

I'm the same way, I really don't socialize on twitter, but mainly use it as a news feed; however, most news is shit right now so I only follow Anonymous and Salon as my news source because I believe they are the most trustful. Sometimes I wake up to like 300+ tweets and I start retweeting/favoriting the ones I enjoyed or deem important.

As for the deathblow, while it hasn't hit America yet, I think the 'advertisements' they plan to inject into our timeline might really piss me off. Time will tell.

As long as Twitter keeps its brevity, I will stick with it. I much prefer a quick "tweet" that sums up a user's idea, news link, etc. than the novels people want to post on Facebook. Ain't nobody got time fo' dat!

"killed by poor direction from the top, and user migration from the bottom" - Given Twitter's recent views of attempting to kill off 3rd party products or severely handicapping them, they seem to be going down this route. I don't think it will die, but it will wane if they keep it up.

Yup, pretty much can only see Twitter killing Twitter with the direction it takes towards 3rd party apps & sharing services.....can't really see people losing interest any other way, just bc it fits in extremely well with majority of people's "on-the-go"/ADD lifestyles

I use twitter mostly for news. I will occasionally tweet but it is usually directed at someone I know, instead of texting.

I feel like more and more people are getting into twitter for different reasons... Amongst my own friends, I'm seeing a lot of people who had previously abandoned their accounts, returning to use twitter as a news source, rather than something they actively share updates to. Personally, I'm finding that the more I put into the service, the more I get out... and I feel strangely more comfortable sharing with twitter's simple publicity, than facebook's complicated privacy settings.