With the arrival of my ancient PhD supervisor on Twitter, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on how mainstream Twitter could become. Whilst the amount of Twitter discussion on the blogosphere and the number of sites that are based on Twitter would seem to indicate a burgeoning community, my experience is that it hasn’t moved beyond the web 2.0 geeks (which is also the conclusion of Compete.com too). Personally I am still failing to see a killer Twitter application, maybe that’s because there just isn’t one, or maybe we need to see the twitterings seperated from Twitter.
Twitter has been getting some good publicity recently as a news source, primarily because of the speed with which twitterings were appearing about the China eathquake but as ReadWriteWeb point out, Twitter is in no way a substitution for the traditional media. Earthquakes and other mass-news events are really the only occassions Twitter is likely to focus on one story: Millions of people on the ground feel an earthquake and it unsurprisingly makes a lot of noise, if I twittered about a murder outside my window it would barely make a ripple. For all the good publicity, news will not make Twitter mainstream.
Although I am not a big fan of Twitter, I do see some potential in micro-blogging. Not as a seperate service, but rather as an integrated part of people’s web presence. There are occassions when 140 characters would suffice for the odd musing I may be having, or for a link I wish to comment on, but I don’t necessarily want to use a specific site for this microblogging. It would be nice if I could microblog on my own site, follow other microblogs on my own site, and possibly even converse through microblog posts on my own site. I want to keep my own content. Twitter could provide a place for those without their own web space, as well as a central directory of microblogs. Maybe then microblogging could go mainstream.
nb. Before anyone says ‘they’re called tweets not twitterings’, I personally think that ‘twittering’ better reflects the continuous-droning-pointlessness of so many of the so-called ‘tweets’.