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.

RIP Digsby–you’re dead (and not just to me)

When Digsby came out in 2008, I was a lost refuge in the land of IM. I broke up with Trillian, which at the time was experiencing painfully slow development during a slow Alpha Testing period.  At the time I was in the IM dessert known as Pidgin: a great IM alternative, but ugly interface. Digsby was a breath of a fresh air, combing the ability to keep myself updated on social networks, emails and of course instant messaging.  I was an avid fan of Digsby from the start, turning friends and family into users of the app.  Over the years, Digsby had its fair share of stumbles, the guys developing Digsby had made a great product and had a great relationship with their user community.


Unfortunately, like that Indie band that you’ve passionately followed, they became big and were never quite the same. In Digsby’s case, it was acquired by a company called Tagged back in April. In their blog post, Digsby claimed they were going to continue to support Digsby and they were going to determine the long-term plans for Digsby. Over three months later, with virtually no communication from their blog, in their forum or through their Twitter account – let alone any changes to their app – the long-term plans are all too apparent: there are none!

To be fair, they’ve made small bug-fixes whenever MSN changed their protocols, but the straw that’s breaking my fact is that on July 1st Twitter changed their authentication model, which broke the way Direct Messages are retrieved. I’ve submitted a bug and scoured the forums to no avail.  In fact, the only topic that is getting traction on the forum is the “Digsby Dead” topic, where other fans are concluding that Digsby has in fact died.

So Rest In Peace Digsby. You were a great product which I loved, but I’m not going to continue to use a product which is no longer supported.  At least there’s on take-away: you guys gave Trillian a swift kick in the pants and now they’re passing you by. In related news: I am now using Trillian again.

Please, prove me wrong. I’d be happy to come back.

Digsby, doing more evil

Digsby is one of my essential apps that I virtually have running all the time.  It’s really my window to the social world, through their Twitter & Facebook integration, as well as using it to manage my IM’s and emails.  I want to say it’s my favorite program, but with their latest actions I feel like I did a little inside every time I fire up this program.

Digsby has always had one of the most evil installers, which sneakily offers your crapware that you don’t want, making it pretty hard to escape unscathed .  Back in August they released a new version that stepped up the amount of crapware, but to make things worse they used your computer to “search the web” and do processing for other commercial companies.  As if that wasn’t unbelievable enough, it was originally opt-out.

Lifehacker did a great job of chronicling the ordeal and rightfully ripping Digsby for their misdeeds. It’s worth a read.  After enduring a PR firestorm, Digsby finally reneged on these restrictions, crying “mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” [see LifeHacker reaction].  In their blog post apologizing for (and defending) their actions Digsby proclaimed:

“We are still a young company that is trying to figure out our long term revenue models.  At the end of the day, we need to keep the lights on and pay salaries so we can keep making Digsby even better ..  The reason we decided to test these two revenue models is because they would allow us to accomplish this while keeping Digsby free and ad-free.” [Digsby Blog]

So I gave Digsby the benefit of the doubt, until I saw their Twitter post from last night:

Text DIGSBY to 41411 to be the first to know when there are updates and new releases!

So now they’re resorting to collecting cell phone numbers.  I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think that a social media & communication tool – rather than using said social media & communication methods to send their updates – is now going into left field and sending them through cell phones.  How does this make sense?  It only makes sense if you’re looking to graft ads at the end of these messages or perhaps even build them up for more sinister purposes (like renting them to another company).

I’m surprised there hasn’t been a backlash about this, but maybe it’s building up somewhere.  I hope people see this as another one of their shady tactics and don’t buy into this crap.  If there is a backlash I’m sure Digsby will apologize on their blog, saying they need to keep the lights on and will go doing good until they get their next “Pinky & the Brain” evil scheme to take over the world.

This is a disturbing and recurring pattern that is being displayed in some of these cutting edge Web 2.0 companies.  Many deploy these slimy tactics and don’t see the problem with them until there is a backlash from their users.  What this tells me is that their ethical compass isn’t pointing north and there doesn’t seem to be a pressing need to correct it.

I hate this because I think Digsby is a great app and I want them to succeed.  I wish they simply would just go ad-supported and offer a modest price for a professional version.  This has become an essential app every day and would gladly pay the price. but not like this.