Guest Post- Is Twitter the Future

Stephen Saber This guest post comes from Stephen Saber, CEO of the CrossTech Group (my parent company and business partner).

Twitter – is it the Future or is it a Predictor of the Future?

Many people have asked in the past six months, is Twitter real and permanent. Does it have staying power? Can it really change how people communicate?

At several recent conferences, this debate has become more and more real. At one – during analyst roundtable keynote at the Gilbane Conference in Boston, the conversation broke down to a conversation about the usefulness of Twitter where one of analysts emphatically referred to it as nothing more than a passing “fad”. At another, a panel of “millennial” described how they get information and the fact that they see all their “breaking news” on Twitter before it ever hits other media streams.

I postulate that he problem that people have with Twitter is that they are looking at it as if it is the final product of the communications revolution that it has started. Instead, let me suggest that you think of it as the AOL of its era. When AOL launched, it was very much a tool for social purposes that had a lot of features and functionality that could be repurposed for successful business uses. These days, AOL is all but non-existent in the realm of internet powerhouses, yet much of what was embedded in that application lives on today in many of the tools that we all rely on every day.

To that end, Twitter is the same as AOL. It is, for all intents and purposes, version 0.2 of a new set of tools that will change a communications paradigm. What it represents is a great, simple tool, for people to send out quick, short ideas and messages to people who care to hear what they are saying. For instance, think about a group of people that have all of chosen to belong to a certain group because they care what the others are saying. Imagine this being a twitter group where, instead of emails, these were small twitter broadcasts – “tweets” – that hit this group and were responded to within this group. In fact, it would be quicker than email, more efficient, and easier to browse and read. Now extend that to other groups of people that you are affiliated with where you feel the same sense of interest in sharing ideas. All of a sudden, the “Twitter model” could have profound impact on the way that these groups share ideas.

I know that this is not truly what twitter is today. But the underlying technology, concept, and communications platform and vehicle are that. This is the future and Twitter is showing us how that might look at feel. Will it be called Twitter? Maybe… Maybe not… We do not call it AOL anymore…

Thoughts?

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  • http://www.velvetblues.com Shirley

    Interesting thought. I don’t know if Twitter would really change that much. The idea that you are postulating resembles something of a chat room. Those exist. The only difference is that it would be stored in a similar format as Twitter and always accessible by those in the group…

    I really don’t see Twitter going very far. But I guess that people always say that about the ‘new’ technologies. It iwll be interesting to see what this transforms into in say 5 or 10 years… or maybe even as little as 2 years!

  • http://www.velvetblues.com Shirley

    Interesting thought. I don’t know if Twitter would really change that much. The idea that you are postulating resembles something of a chat room. Those exist. The only difference is that it would be stored in a similar format as Twitter and always accessible by those in the group…

    I really don’t see Twitter going very far. But I guess that people always say that about the ‘new’ technologies. It iwll be interesting to see what this transforms into in say 5 or 10 years… or maybe even as little as 2 years!

  • http://www.stickyfigure.com Steve Woodruff @swoodruff

    I believe that you are absolutely correct. The Twitter model/concept is here to stay, but the technology will quickly be a commodity. It’s the communication flow that is enabled, and the networks built, where the real value lies.

  • http://www.stickyfigure.com Steve Woodruff @swoodruff

    I believe that you are absolutely correct. The Twitter model/concept is here to stay, but the technology will quickly be a commodity. It’s the communication flow that is enabled, and the networks built, where the real value lies.

  • http://www.stickyfigure.com Steve Woodruff @swoodruff

    I believe that you are absolutely correct. The Twitter model/concept is here to stay, but the technology will quickly be a commodity. It’s the communication flow that is enabled, and the networks built, where the real value lies.

  • http://mypartofcolorado.blogspot.com/ paul merrill

    Stephen, I can’t wait for the next version of Twitter (or Twitter-competitor).

    I love how other companies have expanded the usefulness of Twitter already. (Like Thwirl, that I use constantly.)

    If Facebook would open source like that, what potential there could be!

  • http://mypartofcolorado.blogspot.com/ paul merrill

    Stephen, I can’t wait for the next version of Twitter (or Twitter-competitor).

    I love how other companies have expanded the usefulness of Twitter already. (Like Thwirl, that I use constantly.)

    If Facebook would open source like that, what potential there could be!

  • http://mypartofcolorado.blogspot.com/ paul merrill

    Stephen, I can’t wait for the next version of Twitter (or Twitter-competitor).

    I love how other companies have expanded the usefulness of Twitter already. (Like Thwirl, that I use constantly.)

    If Facebook would open source like that, what potential there could be!

  • http://www.biketoworkbook.com Carlton Reid @carltonreid

    Twitter is quite crude and simple, a better tool could come along. But the simplicity is Twitter’s beauty. There are many third-party clients that add the (probably necessary) bells and whistles.

    TweetDeck, for instance. I’m not connected to TweetDeck in any way, it’s just a great app. And Tweetie for the iPhone is another.

    These apps enrich and enable the Twitter experience, filtering at the same time. Of course, the main worry has got to be Twitter’s monetisation plan. Some of the third party apps make money, Twitter doesn’t yet. And without a revenue model, and quick, Twitter could one day disappear in a puff of smoke.

    If it does, many of us may switch to the next Twitter-like tool, but many would abandon the ‘experiment’. I hope Twitter can make money.

  • http://www.biketoworkbook.com Carlton Reid @carltonreid

    Twitter is quite crude and simple, a better tool could come along. But the simplicity is Twitter’s beauty. There are many third-party clients that add the (probably necessary) bells and whistles.

    TweetDeck, for instance. I’m not connected to TweetDeck in any way, it’s just a great app. And Tweetie for the iPhone is another.

    These apps enrich and enable the Twitter experience, filtering at the same time. Of course, the main worry has got to be Twitter’s monetisation plan. Some of the third party apps make money, Twitter doesn’t yet. And without a revenue model, and quick, Twitter could one day disappear in a puff of smoke.

    If it does, many of us may switch to the next Twitter-like tool, but many would abandon the ‘experiment’. I hope Twitter can make money.

  • http://dadspokerblog.com Dad Brogan

    I agree with Stephen. Right now twitter has many useful features for many types of companies, individuals and groups. I have been involved in IT since the mid 1970′s and I am still amazed that people think that the product of today is it. It just cannot get any better – and then out comes an IBM PC competing against an Apple PC (Macs were not even out yet … mice … what were they talking about). DOS was here to stay.

    I cannot wait for wait is the next revolution or would that be evolution of Twitter and the tools, like Tweetdeck to go with it.

  • http://dadspokerblog.com Dad Brogan

    I agree with Stephen. Right now twitter has many useful features for many types of companies, individuals and groups. I have been involved in IT since the mid 1970′s and I am still amazed that people think that the product of today is it. It just cannot get any better – and then out comes an IBM PC competing against an Apple PC (Macs were not even out yet … mice … what were they talking about). DOS was here to stay.

    I cannot wait for wait is the next revolution or would that be evolution of Twitter and the tools, like Tweetdeck to go with it.

  • http://dadspokerblog.com Dad Brogan

    I agree with Stephen. Right now twitter has many useful features for many types of companies, individuals and groups. I have been involved in IT since the mid 1970′s and I am still amazed that people think that the product of today is it. It just cannot get any better – and then out comes an IBM PC competing against an Apple PC (Macs were not even out yet … mice … what were they talking about). DOS was here to stay.

    I cannot wait for wait is the next revolution or would that be evolution of Twitter and the tools, like Tweetdeck to go with it.

  • http://bcox.me Brandon A. Cox

    Twitter will evolve as any other technology, but they have the advantage of being “king of the hill” right now. That is, other potential competitors can’t seem to get it together in the sense of funding or simplicity. I think Twitter will be able to hang on for the ride as its popularity grows. Even though it’s simple, it also captures several facets of online life – friendship, business, marketing, content sharing, next-to-email-like communication, etc. I think it’s here to stay.

  • http://bcox.me Brandon A. Cox

    Twitter will evolve as any other technology, but they have the advantage of being “king of the hill” right now. That is, other potential competitors can’t seem to get it together in the sense of funding or simplicity. I think Twitter will be able to hang on for the ride as its popularity grows. Even though it’s simple, it also captures several facets of online life – friendship, business, marketing, content sharing, next-to-email-like communication, etc. I think it’s here to stay.

  • http://www.twitter.com/brandonacox Brandon Cox

    Twitter will evolve as any other technology, but they have the advantage of being “king of the hill” right now. That is, other potential competitors can’t seem to get it together in the sense of funding or simplicity. I think Twitter will be able to hang on for the ride as its popularity grows. Even though it’s simple, it also captures several facets of online life – friendship, business, marketing, content sharing, next-to-email-like communication, etc. I think it’s here to stay.

  • http://www.cerebellumblues.com Jeff Shattuck

    I don’t think Twitter and AOL is a good comparison. AOL was subset of the Internet, offering people a trade-off: less access, more simplicity.

    Twitter, on the other hand, is emblematic of our soundbite culture. We like information in little chunks, which Twitter enables. If Twitter “evolves” I fear it would be akin to cluttering up the Google search page. Or, remember Alta Vista? It was awesome, until they decided to become a portal packed with push content.

    For Twitter to succeed, it needs to figure out how to make money from its service without ruining the experience. Tough job, in my opinion .

    Jeff

    Jeff

  • http://www.cerebellumblues.com Jeff Shattuck

    I don’t think Twitter and AOL is a good comparison. AOL was subset of the Internet, offering people a trade-off: less access, more simplicity.

    Twitter, on the other hand, is emblematic of our soundbite culture. We like information in little chunks, which Twitter enables. If Twitter “evolves” I fear it would be akin to cluttering up the Google search page. Or, remember Alta Vista? It was awesome, until they decided to become a portal packed with push content.

    For Twitter to succeed, it needs to figure out how to make money from its service without ruining the experience. Tough job, in my opinion .

    Jeff

    Jeff

  • Anonymous

    I agree, because I remain convinced that human beings will never stop reinventing the web!

  • Anonymous

    I agree, because I remain convinced that human beings will never stop reinventing the web!

  • http://www.mypowermydrive.com Penina

    I agree, because I remain convinced that human beings will never stop reinventing the web!

  • http://Twitter.com/Ed Ed

    I can’t find it now, as the old account no longer exists.
    But I called twttr (original name), “the next http”.
    Of course that was a slight exaggeration for flavor,
    but the point remained.
    This was 2 years ago, before much of what twitter is now, existed.

    It will largely come through a ubiquitous use of @Username,
    which I proposed to Evan Williams and VC Fred Wilson.
    (Fred also backs Disqus, who could best co-code this).

  • http://Twitter.com/Ed Ed

    I can’t find it now, as the old account no longer exists.
    But I called twttr (original name), “the next http”.
    Of course that was a slight exaggeration for flavor,
    but the point remained.
    This was 2 years ago, before much of what twitter is now, existed.

    It will largely come through a ubiquitous use of @Username,
    which I proposed to Evan Williams and VC Fred Wilson.
    (Fred also backs Disqus, who could best co-code this).

  • http://Twitter.com/Ed Ed

    I can’t find it now, as the old account no longer exists.
    But I called twttr (original name), “the next http”.
    Of course that was a slight exaggeration for flavor,
    but the point remained.
    This was 2 years ago, before much of what twitter is now, existed.

    It will largely come through a ubiquitous use of @Username,
    which I proposed to Evan Williams and VC Fred Wilson.
    (Fred also backs Disqus, who could best co-code this).

  • http://www.stevenwilsonmarketing.com Steven Wilson

    I feel that with the right funding that twitter is here to stay for quite sometime.It will also be interesting to see all the other sites that will come along using the twitter model in the near future.

  • http://www.stevenwilsonmarketing.com Steven Wilson

    I feel that with the right funding that twitter is here to stay for quite sometime.It will also be interesting to see all the other sites that will come along using the twitter model in the near future.

  • http://www.stevenwilsonmarketing.com Steven Wilson

    I feel that with the right funding that twitter is here to stay for quite sometime.It will also be interesting to see all the other sites that will come along using the twitter model in the near future.

  • http://www.worldwideben.wordpress.com Ben

    Technology is constantly changing. Twitter, like most other things that happen online, probably will not be relevant years down the road. It may have led to something even greater. It is a great predictor of the information that people want, the way we access that information, and the way we would like to communicate.

  • http://www.worldwideben.wordpress.com Ben

    Technology is constantly changing. Twitter, like most other things that happen online, probably will not be relevant years down the road. It may have led to something even greater. It is a great predictor of the information that people want, the way we access that information, and the way we would like to communicate.

  • http://www.worldwideben.wordpress.com Ben

    Technology is constantly changing. Twitter, like most other things that happen online, probably will not be relevant years down the road. It may have led to something even greater. It is a great predictor of the information that people want, the way we access that information, and the way we would like to communicate.

  • http://www.main-vision.com/richard/blog/ warzabidul

    Twitter is a modern version of meetup.com rather than aol, it’s free for the moment as people get used to using it. In a while people will get tired of using it and so other services will come to replace it.

    Facebook, at least in Europe is a far more interesting tool for what twitter does because everyone you know (or almost) already use the service. As a result twitter is a lot of effort for very little return.

    Get out of the capital cities, go to the countryside and you’ll see just how useless twitter is.

  • http://www.main-vision.com/richard/blog/ warzabidul

    Twitter is a modern version of meetup.com rather than aol, it’s free for the moment as people get used to using it. In a while people will get tired of using it and so other services will come to replace it.

    Facebook, at least in Europe is a far more interesting tool for what twitter does because everyone you know (or almost) already use the service. As a result twitter is a lot of effort for very little return.

    Get out of the capital cities, go to the countryside and you’ll see just how useless twitter is.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    I don’t think Twitter is for everyone, just as any technology. But for two classes of people, I think it will certainly play a role in its current or some future form, in their lives.

    The “Chatty Cathy’s” — folks that like to talk to lots of other folks, build relationships, and in general just meet and befriend lots of interesting people. I’ve yet to find any tool that enables this type of activity better than Twitter. The ability to accidentally find people because you see their handle referenced in a tweet from someone you follow is about as easy as it gets.

    The “Info Hounds” — folks that are constantly in search of knowledge. Twitter is like a human managed RSS stream. It has already spawned Twitter like services such as Yammer. A service we’ve adopted at my company and are using to create a web-based shared information database using hashtags as markers/keywords for everything we put into the Yammer cloud. Is that what the folks at Yammer had in mind? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, we saw a technology and a need and married the two to create a truly useful little application for our company.

    As for AOL — it is still alive and well, but now we call it AIM. They just evolved to match the new world order they helped create. As I’m sure (or at least hope) Twitter will do as well.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    I don’t think Twitter is for everyone, just as any technology. But for two classes of people, I think it will certainly play a role in its current or some future form, in their lives.

    The “Chatty Cathy’s” — folks that like to talk to lots of other folks, build relationships, and in general just meet and befriend lots of interesting people. I’ve yet to find any tool that enables this type of activity better than Twitter. The ability to accidentally find people because you see their handle referenced in a tweet from someone you follow is about as easy as it gets.

    The “Info Hounds” — folks that are constantly in search of knowledge. Twitter is like a human managed RSS stream. It has already spawned Twitter like services such as Yammer. A service we’ve adopted at my company and are using to create a web-based shared information database using hashtags as markers/keywords for everything we put into the Yammer cloud. Is that what the folks at Yammer had in mind? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, we saw a technology and a need and married the two to create a truly useful little application for our company.

    As for AOL — it is still alive and well, but now we call it AIM. They just evolved to match the new world order they helped create. As I’m sure (or at least hope) Twitter will do as well.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    I don’t think Twitter is for everyone, just as any technology. But for two classes of people, I think it will certainly play a role in its current or some future form, in their lives.

    The “Chatty Cathy’s” — folks that like to talk to lots of other folks, build relationships, and in general just meet and befriend lots of interesting people. I’ve yet to find any tool that enables this type of activity better than Twitter. The ability to accidentally find people because you see their handle referenced in a tweet from someone you follow is about as easy as it gets.

    The “Info Hounds” — folks that are constantly in search of knowledge. Twitter is like a human managed RSS stream. It has already spawned Twitter like services such as Yammer. A service we’ve adopted at my company and are using to create a web-based shared information database using hashtags as markers/keywords for everything we put into the Yammer cloud. Is that what the folks at Yammer had in mind? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, we saw a technology and a need and married the two to create a truly useful little application for our company.

    As for AOL — it is still alive and well, but now we call it AIM. They just evolved to match the new world order they helped create. As I’m sure (or at least hope) Twitter will do as well.

  • eva

    As newbe to twitter I totally agree with you. I followed someone here as we are working in small group project 9where I recieve daily tweets of progress). However I am quickly realising that Twitter is definitely alot more participative than other communication tools. So an obligation to the “group” exists (thats if you have defined one). As a new person to a “community” ~ my community is evolving, but eventually through time it can be tweaked, creating hierarchies & structures so filtering of information can also take place, if I want. The hard part is creating the community that defines your aims and YOU as so much “noise”. If you can survive that background I would imagine it is an incredibly powerful communication tool as it places a “demand” for dialogue. It takes a certain type of person to be here. Quite assertive & vocal. I am not like that, but we all follow our own style and hopefully each personality can contribute to & enrich the forum.

  • eva

    As newbe to twitter I totally agree with you. I followed someone here as we are working in small group project 9where I recieve daily tweets of progress). However I am quickly realising that Twitter is definitely alot more participative than other communication tools. So an obligation to the “group” exists (thats if you have defined one). As a new person to a “community” ~ my community is evolving, but eventually through time it can be tweaked, creating hierarchies & structures so filtering of information can also take place, if I want. The hard part is creating the community that defines your aims and YOU as so much “noise”. If you can survive that background I would imagine it is an incredibly powerful communication tool as it places a “demand” for dialogue. It takes a certain type of person to be here. Quite assertive & vocal. I am not like that, but we all follow our own style and hopefully each personality can contribute to & enrich the forum.

  • eva

    As newbe to twitter I totally agree with you. I followed someone here as we are working in small group project 9where I recieve daily tweets of progress). However I am quickly realising that Twitter is definitely alot more participative than other communication tools. So an obligation to the “group” exists (thats if you have defined one). As a new person to a “community” ~ my community is evolving, but eventually through time it can be tweaked, creating hierarchies & structures so filtering of information can also take place, if I want. The hard part is creating the community that defines your aims and YOU as so much “noise”. If you can survive that background I would imagine it is an incredibly powerful communication tool as it places a “demand” for dialogue. It takes a certain type of person to be here. Quite assertive & vocal. I am not like that, but we all follow our own style and hopefully each personality can contribute to & enrich the forum.

  • http://www.datexmedia.wordpress.com Scott Mahler-Datex Media

    Given the fact that more and more of the people I speak with about business bring up twitter on a daily basis, I have to say I believe social media is here to stay. It isn’t a fad, it’s a revolution and, as you say, a new way of communicating. The people that believe this is nothing more than a craze should only look back at when emailing first took off and google, which has now become a verb as well as a noun, to understand the impact sites like twitter are having, and will continue to have, on business. And a word to the wise for these businesses, the longer you wait to jump aboard, the more business you’ll lose to smaller companies like mine.

  • http://www.datexmedia.wordpress.com Scott Mahler-Datex Media

    Given the fact that more and more of the people I speak with about business bring up twitter on a daily basis, I have to say I believe social media is here to stay. It isn’t a fad, it’s a revolution and, as you say, a new way of communicating. The people that believe this is nothing more than a craze should only look back at when emailing first took off and google, which has now become a verb as well as a noun, to understand the impact sites like twitter are having, and will continue to have, on business. And a word to the wise for these businesses, the longer you wait to jump aboard, the more business you’ll lose to smaller companies like mine.

  • http://www.datexmedia.wordpress.com Scott Mahler-Datex Media

    Given the fact that more and more of the people I speak with about business bring up twitter on a daily basis, I have to say I believe social media is here to stay. It isn’t a fad, it’s a revolution and, as you say, a new way of communicating. The people that believe this is nothing more than a craze should only look back at when emailing first took off and google, which has now become a verb as well as a noun, to understand the impact sites like twitter are having, and will continue to have, on business. And a word to the wise for these businesses, the longer you wait to jump aboard, the more business you’ll lose to smaller companies like mine.

  • http://themarketingsleuth.com/ Caleb Gardner

    I love the AOL comparison. What’s interesting about it is that while AOL was amazing because of what it could do (at the time), Twitter is amazing because of what it *doesn’t* do. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is. It is beautiful because of its simplicity.

    AOL had a large set of very controlled functions, whereas Twitter has a small set of very open functions that many have built upon. I think you’re on to something when you say that Twitter is the future – building simple tools that can be elaborated upon by creative developers. The future is openness and authenticity.

    Of course Twitter will fade, as all things do. But right now it is posed to change the way we think about communications.

  • http://themarketingsleuth.com/ Caleb Gardner

    I love the AOL comparison. What’s interesting about it is that while AOL was amazing because of what it could do (at the time), Twitter is amazing because of what it *doesn’t* do. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is. It is beautiful because of its simplicity.

    AOL had a large set of very controlled functions, whereas Twitter has a small set of very open functions that many have built upon. I think you’re on to something when you say that Twitter is the future – building simple tools that can be elaborated upon by creative developers. The future is openness and authenticity.

    Of course Twitter will fade, as all things do. But right now it is posed to change the way we think about communications.

  • http://themarketingsleuth.com/ Caleb Gardner

    I love the AOL comparison. What’s interesting about it is that while AOL was amazing because of what it could do (at the time), Twitter is amazing because of what it *doesn’t* do. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is. It is beautiful because of its simplicity.

    AOL had a large set of very controlled functions, whereas Twitter has a small set of very open functions that many have built upon. I think you’re on to something when you say that Twitter is the future – building simple tools that can be elaborated upon by creative developers. The future is openness and authenticity.

    Of course Twitter will fade, as all things do. But right now it is posed to change the way we think about communications.

  • http://www.thestrump.com TStrump

    True … this is only the beginning. Who knows what the internet will look like in the next 10 years.

  • http://www.thestrump.com TStrump

    True … this is only the beginning. Who knows what the internet will look like in the next 10 years.

  • http://www.thestrump.com TStrump

    True … this is only the beginning. Who knows what the internet will look like in the next 10 years.

  • http://www.marketingprofs.com Allen Weiss

    When I think about these issues, its a matter of looking at the right level of analysis (the technology versus the use of the technology) and the people (such as the demographic) of who is using it. Social media is here to stay because people have always had a need to connect (think notes in a bottle in the ocean, smoke signals, and any social connection you feel when there is a common purpose – such at a sports event or inauguration). When people talk about Twitter, they are talking about the technology, and I think it’s just a passing technology that will evolve into some other way for social connection. My prediction is based on just looking at my son (17) and daughter (15), who could care less about Twitter. So when they get older they will still have the need for social connection – as people always have had – but will be looking for something easier to use, adapted to their interests, and well, just different. it’s always been this way, and will likely continue. At least that’s my personal observation.

  • http://www.marketingprofs.com Allen Weiss

    When I think about these issues, its a matter of looking at the right level of analysis (the technology versus the use of the technology) and the people (such as the demographic) of who is using it. Social media is here to stay because people have always had a need to connect (think notes in a bottle in the ocean, smoke signals, and any social connection you feel when there is a common purpose – such at a sports event or inauguration). When people talk about Twitter, they are talking about the technology, and I think it’s just a passing technology that will evolve into some other way for social connection. My prediction is based on just looking at my son (17) and daughter (15), who could care less about Twitter. So when they get older they will still have the need for social connection – as people always have had – but will be looking for something easier to use, adapted to their interests, and well, just different. it’s always been this way, and will likely continue. At least that’s my personal observation.

  • http://www.marketingprofs.com Allen Weiss

    When I think about these issues, its a matter of looking at the right level of analysis (the technology versus the use of the technology) and the people (such as the demographic) of who is using it. Social media is here to stay because people have always had a need to connect (think notes in a bottle in the ocean, smoke signals, and any social connection you feel when there is a common purpose – such at a sports event or inauguration). When people talk about Twitter, they are talking about the technology, and I think it’s just a passing technology that will evolve into some other way for social connection. My prediction is based on just looking at my son (17) and daughter (15), who could care less about Twitter. So when they get older they will still have the need for social connection – as people always have had – but will be looking for something easier to use, adapted to their interests, and well, just different. it’s always been this way, and will likely continue. At least that’s my personal observation.