Random Twitter Effects

Hard to believe I haven’t blogged about Twitter in a while. Like New Web in general, Twitter has reached that cusp where early adopters are calling it “established” and new people are kicking the tires.

Lots of them.

The recent departure of Blaine Cook, Twitter’s former chief architect, could mean any number of things. Many speculate that he was a casualty of the downtime bug; if this is true, I really feel bad for him, since Twitter 1) has no apparent business model and 2) is Twitter and not mission-critical.

There have been no reports of anything more serious than annoyance due to a Twitter outage.

When it’s up, Twitter is a great vehicle for support, e.g. Eddie’s tweet @me last night about this post (incidentally, the pop-up error will be cleaned up this week). And as more people jump into tweeting, I’ve noticed new, interesting effects.

Twitter != Private
People think Twitter is private conversation because many use it for replies to people they follow, like IM. Well, guess what? Unless you have protected updates, everyone can see your tweets.

Like many, I Tweet Scan to monitor what Twitter says about certain keywords, like “appslab” and “jkuramoto”, a common and understandable misspelling of my Twitter handle, jkuramot. Tweet Scan produces an RSS feed of any keyword search, so I can consume any updates in digest form.

One keyword I follow is “oracle”. This makes for some funny reading, since people also treat Twitter as a quick way to vent.

Just as with blogging, the lesson here is assume people will find what you say eventually. Armed with knowledge, tweet on and know it’s not private or protect your updates.

Beta Invite Market
I’ve recently started using Twitter to get beta invites, which in turn has helped me find some interesting people to follow. For example, I had 20 Fire Eagle invites, most of which were claimed by readers. I tweeted about the remaining ones and many people responded.

I’ve used Twitter to get invited to Brightkite and to invite people to SocialThing, Fire Eagle, Brightkite and Evernote. Spreading invites via blog is a tried-and-true way to gain positive points with your readers (incidentally, sound off in comments if you want invites to any of these), but Twitter adds a bartering dimension.

Here’s an example. This is my favorite so far.

At first blush, it seems insane, but if the beer is free already, then this is a good deal. Better than giving away beer for free. I wonder if anyone replied . . .

Drive-by Following
Through the beta invites market, I realized that many people drive-by follow, i.e. they follow someone for a short period of time, then remove them.

I had a vague sense this was true, since my followers count fluctuates up and down without any discernable reason. It makes sense when you add the previous two observations together though.

If you want something, e.g. a beta invite, use Tweet Scan to follow references to it, then swoop in when you find what you want, and then remove the person. Makes perfect sense.

I don’t take it personally when people I follow don’t follow me in return, and I enjoy watching stuff like this grow out of the Twitterverse.

Have you made the leap into Twitter recently? What do you think of it? Are you a diehard user? How do you feel about the recent influx of n00bs? Has Twitter jumped the shark?

Sound off in comments.




  1. Late to the table – just read your entry – and I've been trying to find an invite for fire eagle – have you got any?

  2. Sorry, those are long gone by now, but the FE team said they were coming out of private beta soon.

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