Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why Jesse Stay is right, even though he's wrong

Remember when Robert Scoble was supposedly accused of ruining Twitter and all things good and decent in America? Well, when Scoble went to Twitter to kiss and make up, he brought Jesse Stay with him. (No, not THAT Jesse Stay.)

The younger Jesse Stay wrote the following recently:

I’ve been following various development mailing lists lately, and I’m seeing a trend of developers starting to bail on Twitter. This is a scary thought, because when the developers bail, so will the users. It all started with a conversation on the Twitter Developers’ mailing list with the subject, “Shame” by a developer named, “nath“, in which he said,

“Well, twitters always down or unusable due to the speed; the api’s keep breaking and are down just as often; the groups now packed full of spam which is littering my inbox.

“It’s a real shame to see such a great app crumble and die like this :(”

Be sure to read the rest of the post, in which it was noted that (a) the spam was the fault of Google, not Twitter, (b) Alex Payne noted that Twitter had "been pretty solid over the last few days"; and (c) that was not exactly a ringing endorsement.

After citing a few more examples of people leaving Twitter development, Stay concluded:

I’m very worried for Twitter. As more developers jump ship and work on other platforms such as Plurk and FriendFeed (which really isn’t a direct competitor to Twitter), this great tool is going to be left in the dust with no new development and large networks of people moving elsewhere. Twitter’s largest traffic comes from the API itself, and as that traffic dies down, so will Twitter.

I'm not quite sure that Stay effectively made his point that developers are abandoning Twitter. He only cited a few cases, and even if people say that they're going to do something, that doeesn't mean that they'll necessarily do it.

However, the primary evidence that Jesse Stay was wrong in his assertion of Twitter developer departures is that all sorts of new applications are being developed for Twitter.

Unfortunately for Twitter, these aren't the types of applications that they'll want to brag about. Take this announcement from Louis Gray:

Many Twitter users have a love/hate relationship with the service. They love what it does, helping people communicate in real time, from the Web or their mobile phones, but they hate that it hasn't scaled to meet demand. In its place, a new crop of services is rising to work around the downtime. The latest, debuting today, is called twitAbit, which leverages store and forward capabilities to ensure that Twitter fail doesn't ensure your own fail.

But it turns out that twitAbit has competition. Madhur Kapoor:

If you are a Twitter addict and get pissed of when Twitter is down (which happens quite frequently), then Twiddict is just for you. It is a service which allows you to post Tweets to it when Twitter is down. And when Twitter comes back up, it will post the Tweets to your Twitter account.

So we have twitabit, Twiddict, and probably some others that I missed. Looks like there's a lot of Twitter development going on.

One can classify third-party add-ons into three categories:

  • Add-ons to product A that product A's developers probably shouldn't be getting involved in developing.

  • Add-ons to product A that product A's developer probably should have offered, but didn't.

  • Add-ons to product A that never should have been developed in the first place, because they shouldn't have been needed.
Twiddict and twitabit probably belong in the third category.

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