February 24, 2009
@ 02:00 PM

I often wonder whether the founders of Twitter think of the site as a social utility that helps keep people connected with the people they know and care about like Facebook or whether it is primarily another personal publishing platform like Blogger. How they view the service influences the features that are the added to the site and its evolution.

For example, take a simple feature like "friend suggestion". A site that views itself as a social utility would implement such a feature in a way that attempts to bring you together with people it thinks you know or who've implied they know you. A site that views itself as a personal publishing platform for would-be pundits and people interested in them will end up recommending the most popular users in a move that mirrors the Bloglines Top 100 or recommending people based on editorial choice instead of how they relate to you.

Now compare the results of Twitter's Suggested Users feature shown below 

with one of Mr. Tweet's various recommendation options

Twitter's suggestions for me include a grocery store, the microblog of an online shoe store CEO and a mommy blogger. On the other hand, Mr. Tweet has actually recommended people I have met or at least know professionally. As I go down the list of recommendations from Mr. Tweet and finally encounter people I don't know they are at least people who move in the same circles as me online. On the other hand Twitter's list contains a grab brag of celebrities and brands that have no direct connection to me.

Twitter is squandering an opportunity to grow their social graph in a way that deepens their users connections on the site and with the site. If I were in their shoes, I'd pick up Mr. Tweet in the same way they picked up Summize because the technology and feature set nicely complements the site and fills a hole in their user experience.

Note Now Playing: Metallica - Leper Messiah Note


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