Happy 8th Birthday Twitter – will you please grow up?

Twitter turned eight years old yesterday and offered folks the opportunity to go down memory lane and see their first Tweet.  Over 7 years later, mine is pretty terrible:

I first heard about Twitter through the Boagworld Web Design Podcast, where it was described to me as a networking tool that enables you to keep tabs on acquaintances, with the home page of Twitter asking “What are you doing?” I spent my first few months on Twitter answering that question every time.  Over time my usage of Twitter has changed from being a semi-anonymous brain dump of my rants and ravings (that is until my friends and family discovered the service), to now being a platform for anything I think is remotely clever.  Twitter has also become invaluable when it comes to gaging immediate reactions to any events, having conversations with mutual followers who share my same interests, as well as breaking news in things that I care about.

Out of all the social networks I use (and there’s been many of them over the years), Twitter has been the one that has been most integrated into my daily life.  Every day I have Twitter open in the background on my computer, and Twitter is 2nd on my list of apps that I go to when I have a few minutes to kill on my phone (Instagram is currently the first, but that’s another story).  When Lent came up, giving up Facebook was a realistic option, but it would be a real struggle for me to give up Twitter.  I have a lot of stake in Twitter and want to see it succeed.

That said, Twitter needs to grow the hell up and remember when it came from.

Two weeks ago, MetroTwit, my favorite Twitter client shut themselves down because they became too popular for Twitter.  Back in 2012, Twitter imposed a stupid 100,000 limit against other people’s clients.  Imagine discovering an awesome local band, but when they finally get some exposure and explode in popularity, you’re not allowed to listen to them anymore.  This is essentially what Twitter’s imposed on clients.  If you find an awesome client on your phone, tablet or computer, you better hope you discovered them early, otherwise you’re not going to get much usage.

Twitter is obviously doing this to discourage developers from releasing clients, and driving people to their own official app.  I can appreciate that, and realize that Twitter is a business that needs to make revenue.  The problem is that Twitter didn’t even have official apps when they started and built their popularity on the backs of the very developers that they’re not stabbing.

As I mentioned above, the way I consume Twitter has changed over the year, and it was through some of these apps that inspired this behavior.  Digsby taught me to read Twitter from top to bottom and taught me to read Twitter in a linear fashion, starting 100 posts back and catching up.  MetroTwit was one of the last desktop clients that had the “timeline stays in same position when refreshes”, allowing you to catch up.

This is even more evident in the mobile space, where the Twitter is even more limited. A few months back I moved away from Twicca (which is a great Android App) over to Tweetings , which is a very attractive client.  It’s only a matter of time that a client this awesome will become too popular for it’s own good, and Tweetings will need to raise their price to something outrageous to try to curb development.

Twitter’s definitely entitled to make money, but they’re going about this all wrong.  I’m sure if they imposed a modest fee to exceed the the 100,000 limit, clients can pass that over to their users.  They could require that these clients maintain Twitter’s ad stream. There are a ton of possibilities when it comes to playing together nicely, yet Twitter imposes these draconian policies that make no sense.

So happy birthday Twitter, here’s to maturing.