Monday, July 07, 2008

Should We Abandon Twitter for Greener Pastures?

In the past couple of days, while I nursed a virulent strain of something or another (no more tomato and mayo sandwiches for me, thank you), I was busy following the happenings and going-ons at the 2008 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California, courtesy of my Twitter peeps Michael Stephens, David Lee King, and Robin Hastings, as well as others who attended and sent 'tweets' from the conference. All did a fine job, by the way, and I recommend readers of mine should subscribe to them.

One caveat: I was able to follow the minute by minute reactions and observations as long as Twitter remained stable.

Sadly, Twitter was acting a little flaky, as in sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I would not go as far and say Twitter suffered a massive outage, like other times, but the service was and remains unstable.

I'm calling Twitter's recent woes growing pains. The Twitter infrastructure is new and clearly cannot handle a 24/7 onslaught of messages from thousands and thousands of users across the globe every minute of the day.

In the aftermath of these recent reliability issues, there is a small but growing movement among the micro-blogging community to switch to new, more reliable services that offer the same and perhaps even more features and functionality. [Read the TechCrunch article.]

One such exodus is to FriendFeed, a social media aggregator that allows users to post messages and comments, befriend other users and grow social networks, and link to photos and videos. Furthermore, FriendFeed aggregates (or shares) content from popular online services such as Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and from your personal blog. In total, FriendFeed can aggregate content from 41 services. If one has an account with any one of these services, one can add content to his or her FriendFeed feed.

Not too shabby!

But is it worth leaving Twitter?

When the hype surrounding FriendFeed started with a few high-profile bloggers, I decided to create a FriendFeed account.

What I immediately liked about FriendFeed was its ability to aggregate content from my other social media/networking sites, such as my Flickr photo stream, The DIGITAL Archive and ar.ch.i.vi.us blog feeds, Digg, as well as my Twitter tweets, and present them on a clean dynamic page to be shared with everyone, including friends.

Another feature I like is the ability to comment on people's postings. In my opinion, it's a lot more cleaner and streamlined than Twitter. Finally, I can create virtual rooms in which other users can join and discuss and share items of relevance to the room.

So, that said, should we delete our Twitter accounts and move to greener pastures? No, I believe we should not delete anything just yet. Twitter is still tops in my book because it introduced an innovative communication tool. The brain trust that concocted this must have more plans in mind, but putting out infrastructure fires is placing a huge strain on creativity. Twitter must become more stable and reliable--and introduce new features--lest it end up in that great heap called "great ideas, poor execution."

In an ironic twist, the exodus to other micro-blogging services such as FriendFeed may help alleviate the pressure on Twitter, as Jill-Hurst Wahl commented in a recent tweet, and allow the company to resolve its problems and re-energize its creative juices.

1 comment:

Dubber, Aaron the Librarian said...

Hey, for what it's worth, there's an alpha version social aggregator out for testing: Gridjit with a tweetstream to follow, too.

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.