A few days ago Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, using the search term #Twitter2017, asked users for suggestions on additions and improvements to the networking service. The leading replies—all single words, naturally, owing to space limitations—were edits, topics, conversations, and abuse.
These suggestions may make for an improved product; nevertheless, none are the correct answer… at least for a CEO (who should be) focused on this company’s seemingly troubled future.
Twitter’s woes—whether statistics on number of new accounts, engagement, etc.—have been documented and discussed throughout 2016. Can anyone seriously claim improvements or features along the lines of edits, topics, conversations, or abuse are the ‘fix’? Abuse exists in all social media. Twitter’s direct messaging enables conversations. Topics are followed easily with the hashtag search facility. As for editing a tweet with a typo, is that the BIG PROBLEM? (No.)
… mission creep towards Old Media?
The answer lies in Twitter’s place in the Media Spectrum, ranging from old to new. ‘Old Media’ is a one-way street on which consumers may choose content to be consumed from a number of channels provided by corporations. ‘New Media’ is a round table at which users may be consumers and/or providers, and at which those who are consumers curate their own channels.
We’ve all heard variations on this before, but the question for Twitter: has there been mission creep towards Old Media? When platforms deign to make decisions on which “quality” content users will “care about most” or find “relevant”—these words should seem familiar—the overall experience tends towards Old Media. When tweets do not show up in hashtag searches, even after selecting “View all,” then the perception tends to that of Old Media masquerading as New Media. (The account, since closed, had associated with it a verified email address.)
@jack, don’t be misled by self-satisfied computer ‘scientists’; their benchmark for an intelligent algorithm is simply a finite set of examples that seem sensible (“It works!”). Once a platform provides exaggerated support to users based on some simplistic metrics, the ensuing snowball effect yields one result: Old Media.
@LinkedIn, the new newsfeed is worthless. I repeatedly see posts that I have chosen repeatedly to hide. I see multiple posts in languages not listed in my profile. There is no choice to see posts from connections in chronological order. It is not clear that users will see all of their connections’ posts. I don’t get the feeling that I’ve curated my own ‘channel’.
@jack & @LinkedIn, follow the example set by @facebook. Their “Most Recent” newsfeed choice allows its algorithm to be judged by users, showing their confidence in the platform’s ability to assist users as we curate our content. It has a certain air about it… that of New Media.