Twitter: The poster child of technology inefficiency


You should read this post from Eugene Wei (no really, go read it) and consider it in terms of inefficiency.

Think back to when Twitter first started. By the time you and I were getting involved, it’s likely the need for the SMS limited character limitation was long gone. Only the earliest of early adopters would have actually been around when it was in fact needed.

But the character limitation was there, which was why a whole bunch of work-arounds started appearing. The first was the url shortener movement.

Result: Twitter was imposing unnecessary barriers that other companies (eg then created tools (and entire businesses) to overcome. Here’s what I said about it in 2009. So inefficient. And costly.

Url shorteners went on to make up for some of the inefficiency by enabling click analysis and reporting, so it wasn’t all bad of course. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it was the right path (since reporting could have been implemented in other ways, and much more efficiently).

And that brings us back to Eugene’s article where he so beautifully paints[1] the picture of an inefficient product going from bad to worse.

The inefficiency highlights so far:

  • impose length limitation and keep it (for no good reason)
  • URL shorteners become popular to allow long links to be included in tweets
  • tweet storms used as a way to write longer updates
  • messy reply threading not understood by most people
  • screenshorts now becoming common as another way of writing longer updates

Soooo inefficient.

[1] Note: Eugene’s post, whilst certainly discussing the merits of potentially removing the character limit, isn’t necessarily focussed on that – he has other key points around the larger picture of Twitter’s strategy that he covers really well.

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By Craig Bailey