Twitter Needs Two Channels

bullhorn guy In thinking a bit more about cafe-shaped conversations, I’m wary of how Twitter (and by twitter, I mean one-to-many communications platforms, because let’s agree that Twitter is generation 1 of something not yet fully realized), wary of how Twitter can become quite a lot of noise and not enough signal. The thing is this: Twitter is two things- the commons and a platform. I think we need a two-channel Twitter.

Disclaimer First

Dear Ev and Jack and Biz – I am not in the Twitter needs lots of features camp. I am not. We saw what that did to the others. You made the right move, even when every pundit was clamoring for more. So, please, it’s okay to disregard this advice along with the rest. Maybe I’m just using you as a placeholder for *.next-wave-of-what-Twitter-has-shown-us-should-exist.

Two Channels: Commons and the Platform

The commons is all the @ messages, all the “I love Newman’s Own Organic Coffee at McDonalds” tweets. It’s the place where the real relationship building happens. The platform is where one says those things that might be of value, or of informational impact, of serious-ish and worthwhile note.

This permits people to opt into one of three types of feeds: commons only, platform only, or everything. It’s similar to the “only show me @ messages for people I’m subscribed to” option.

Some people love the commons. There’s a whole lot of people who want to have the full-featured conversation inside Twitter. I do. I love it all. I like the variety.

But others don’t want to use Twitter this way. They want it to be a very powerful platform for conveying data. That’s fine, too. Nothing wrong with that. I think there are lots of different ways people are looking to use the service.

Why This is Harder Than Just Satisfying Me

  • There’s no mechanism in SMS for this. So a tweet from SMS would get dumped into whatever the default was (presuming the commons).

  • It means a rewrite to the API.
  • It means more rows in the database.
  • It means a lot of app changes, and some usage changes.

Why It Just Might Be Worth It

Because the same functionality, some kind of “gate” factor, would allow for on-the-fly groups, would allow for “team-only” messaging, and would allow for some features I haven’t even really considered in this post.

One More Thing

How I would do the Commons and the Platforms segregation would be as follows:

  • Tweet without a prefix: commons.
  • P [body of tweet] – Platform
  • C [body of tweet] – Commons

Similar to the DM function, D, and the @ function, @chrisbrogan. Just give a P and a C function call.

**Update: Per Howard Greenstein’s comment, I had another idea. What about “E” for emergency information. Used like:

E They just bombed Mumbai!!! (which should pop to the “alert” status) or whatever. Things like Amber alerts and the like would be in this category.

Throw stones. Agree. Disagree.

Photo credit, Gabu Chan

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  • chronically

    i’d imagine they’re working on this. in only a few lines of code I setup a filter that runs in the background and displays only tweets from the people I’m following that contain links. I figure that the people I follow are linking to something of value rather than lengthy blog entries about their day.

    It takes a little bit of understanding of the api, but it’s real simple to do with a little programming knowledge and is even a little fun.

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  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    Wouldn’t most of us still want to see both the Commons and the Platform posts for the people we follow? Assuming we follow people that have something interesting to say and don’t just tweet what they had for dinner. I follow you, for example. I like most of the things you have to say whether they’re important or trivial. So, how would you system make it any different for me? Other than making me look in two places for your tweets.

  • http://www.twitterimage.com Hugh Briss

    Wouldn’t most of us still want to see both the Commons and the Platform posts for the people we follow? Assuming we follow people that have something interesting to say and don’t just tweet what they had for dinner. I follow you, for example. I like most of the things you have to say whether they’re important or trivial. So, how would you system make it any different for me? Other than making me look in two places for your tweets.

  • http://www.365hustle.com Hustlers Home

    I’m more about business. I need to build my twitter that is my next goal. I want a personal twitter.

  • http://www.365hustle.com Hustlers Home

    I’m more about business. I need to build my twitter that is my next goal. I want a personal twitter.

  • http://www.mybusinesscommunity.ning.com/KenE3C Kenneth Darryl Brown

    Chris, nice post! As a sales expert, I use Twitter to learn more about sales, marketing, profitability, entrepreneurship, social media, technology, etc. …… I am looking for information that will improve my business! Likewise, when I discover great content and information, I share it with my Twitter Followers. I skip over the “personal stuff” …. just sharing! :) Thank you!

    @KenE3C

  • http://www.mybusinesscommunity.ning.com/KenE3C Kenneth Darryl Brown

    Chris, nice post! As a sales expert, I use Twitter to learn more about sales, marketing, profitability, entrepreneurship, social media, technology, etc. …… I am looking for information that will improve my business! Likewise, when I discover great content and information, I share it with my Twitter Followers. I skip over the “personal stuff” …. just sharing! :) Thank you!

    @KenE3C

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  • http://elvigilanteblog.com Snow Vandemore

    I made a comment to one of my followers this morning about Twittergroups. I said the site looked cheesy and personally, I didn’t see the point. I like twitter for it’s diversity — I don’t want to be grouped with a bunch of other people who think, or think they think, like me. I want to share and converse with people who are not like me. That’s how I learn and that’s exciting to me.

    Too many api’s spoils the bunch — in that respect, I agree with you. Twitter is a phenomenon unto itself. Piling on different applications and spins just complicates the essence of what is great about the original product. Sequels and remakes, like Die Hard 2, are never as good as the real thing. Twitter is twitter. Tomorrow, it will be something like twitter, but better. But that’s for you social media geniuses to figure out. I’ll just be along for the ride. :)

  • http://elvigilanteblog.com Snow Vandemore

    I made a comment to one of my followers this morning about Twittergroups. I said the site looked cheesy and personally, I didn’t see the point. I like twitter for it’s diversity — I don’t want to be grouped with a bunch of other people who think, or think they think, like me. I want to share and converse with people who are not like me. That’s how I learn and that’s exciting to me.

    Too many api’s spoils the bunch — in that respect, I agree with you. Twitter is a phenomenon unto itself. Piling on different applications and spins just complicates the essence of what is great about the original product. Sequels and remakes, like Die Hard 2, are never as good as the real thing. Twitter is twitter. Tomorrow, it will be something like twitter, but better. But that’s for you social media geniuses to figure out. I’ll just be along for the ride. :)

  • http://www.blindinfluence.com Sopan Greene

    When I read the title and began to read this article I agreed with you Chris, but the more I look at how I get value on Twitter I have to support the one channel option. The blending of the commons and the informative data is the secret sauce for Twitter.

    We have access to real time national and international conversations, benefit from crowd sourcing and connect deeper to experts like you by reading tweets about people’s kids, joys, frustrations and at times irrelevant musings. Every time we read a tweet that makes us smile or laugh we’re further endeared to our Twitter friends and deriving more value from the medium.

    Besides, having two channels would add yet another channel to monitor in our information overwhelm / time deprived lives. It would be one more thing we’d be wishing could be aggregated.

    @sopan

  • http://www.blindinfluence.com Sopan Greene

    When I read the title and began to read this article I agreed with you Chris, but the more I look at how I get value on Twitter I have to support the one channel option. The blending of the commons and the informative data is the secret sauce for Twitter.

    We have access to real time national and international conversations, benefit from crowd sourcing and connect deeper to experts like you by reading tweets about people’s kids, joys, frustrations and at times irrelevant musings. Every time we read a tweet that makes us smile or laugh we’re further endeared to our Twitter friends and deriving more value from the medium.

    Besides, having two channels would add yet another channel to monitor in our information overwhelm / time deprived lives. It would be one more thing we’d be wishing could be aggregated.

    @sopan

  • http://elvigilanteblog.com Snow Vandemore

    To quote Winston Churchill — ““The simplest things are often the truest.”

    The human brain is an amazing tool in that we can take in an inordinate amount of information at a brief glance and determine what is pertinent to our lives and what is not. We already have two, four, six channels — as many as a relatively intelligent person can manage — simply by thinking, then choosing. I don’t want an application making those decisions for me. I might be missing something that later proves to be a diamond, a gem, in a stream of muck.

  • http://elvigilanteblog.com Snow Vandemore

    To quote Winston Churchill — ““The simplest things are often the truest.”

    The human brain is an amazing tool in that we can take in an inordinate amount of information at a brief glance and determine what is pertinent to our lives and what is not. We already have two, four, six channels — as many as a relatively intelligent person can manage — simply by thinking, then choosing. I don’t want an application making those decisions for me. I might be missing something that later proves to be a diamond, a gem, in a stream of muck.

  • http://morethanmommy.com Christy

    It’s an interesting idea, but I feel that it removes the “social” aspect of social media. If I only want to know what noteworthy things you have to say, I read your blog. Twitter is all about those connections you make around the non-noteworthy things. Enjoying the same type of coffee, sharing a birthday, having similar experiences with family members – these are how personal relationships are built. It’s one of the reasons I don’t aspire to following as many people as you do. I can’t imagine trying to follow the massive brain dump you have access to! It’s like being able to hear what everyone is thinking and trying to sort out what you want/need to know.

    As others have mentioned, there’s the additional problem of defining what is a “common” and what is a “platform” tweet. I can’t imagine it would be all that useful a breakdown in the end, especially with thousands of streams coming in.

    The only change I’d make to Twitter is the ability to thread tweets. I am forever searching backward to find out what inspired an interesting response!

  • http://morethanmommy.com Christy

    It’s an interesting idea, but I feel that it removes the “social” aspect of social media. If I only want to know what noteworthy things you have to say, I read your blog. Twitter is all about those connections you make around the non-noteworthy things. Enjoying the same type of coffee, sharing a birthday, having similar experiences with family members – these are how personal relationships are built. It’s one of the reasons I don’t aspire to following as many people as you do. I can’t imagine trying to follow the massive brain dump you have access to! It’s like being able to hear what everyone is thinking and trying to sort out what you want/need to know.

    As others have mentioned, there’s the additional problem of defining what is a “common” and what is a “platform” tweet. I can’t imagine it would be all that useful a breakdown in the end, especially with thousands of streams coming in.

    The only change I’d make to Twitter is the ability to thread tweets. I am forever searching backward to find out what inspired an interesting response!

  • susan kuhn frost

    Christy, the only work-around I have seen to follow a conversation is this: select a word string in the tweet that intrigues you and then search for it at http://search.twitter.com, the search menu at the bottom of the screen. One of the options in the results will be “show coversation.” That will take you back through the tweets between those two people.

  • http://resilienceatwork,blogspot.com susan kuhn frost

    Christy, the only work-around I have seen to follow a conversation is this: select a word string in the tweet that intrigues you and then search for it at http://search.twitter.com, the search menu at the bottom of the screen. One of the options in the results will be “show coversation.” That will take you back through the tweets between those two people.

  • http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet Jack Repenning

    @susan kuhn frost (et al): there are a couple sites that will reconstruct a thread for you. one is tweader.com. copy the permalink for the tweet, or just the number at its end (the “status ID”), and paste at http://tweader.com

  • http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet Jack Repenning

    @susan kuhn frost (et al): there are a couple sites that will reconstruct a thread for you. one is tweader.com. copy the permalink for the tweet, or just the number at its end (the “status ID”), and paste at http://tweader.com

  • http://joeldrapper.com Joel Drapper

    I was just talking to a friend about this the other day. I hope they do bring out this feature.

  • http://joeldrapper.com Joel Drapper

    I was just talking to a friend about this the other day. I hope they do bring out this feature.

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  • http://www.yuregininsesi.com sesli chat

    Chris, the biggest issue I see with this is that the sender gets to decide what is of importance or value, when that actually varies from recipient to recipient. As you noted, some of your “commons” tweets can spark voluminous discussion. Would you have thought that an offhand remark could be of importance or value? This ambiguity makes the distinctions too complex to be appealing.

  • http://www.nifty150.com Jeff Copeland

    I agree wholeheartedly. To me, Twitter is just a bunch of noise. But give me some filters to put in place so that I only get what I want/need to see, and then it becomes a viable communications platform.

    Filters. Not Features.

  • http://www.nifty150.com Jeff Copeland

    I agree wholeheartedly. To me, Twitter is just a bunch of noise. But give me some filters to put in place so that I only get what I want/need to see, and then it becomes a viable communications platform.

    Filters. Not Features.