I had promised I would not write about Twitter since it is clearly overexposed right now. But I haven’t seen this particular angle discussed elsewhere so I thought there was some value in contributing it to the dialogue.
For most online services with a social networking component, they need to attract more users to reach critical mass to be truly useful to its user base. Think of a genealogical service, for instance, like Geni. The more people who use it, the more value you extract from it. Same goes for something like Wikipedia. As more users contribute content, the service becomes more robust. Or with LinkedIn, the more people who join, the broader you can use your network.
But Twitter actually suffers from the opposite problem. The more people who use it, the less value you can extract from it. Obviously, there is a need for a certain number of people to be involved to provide any value, but once you hit that sweet spot, the value of the service continues to diminish.
In reading and listening to user experiences with Twitter over the past few weeks, it struck me that as more people became engaged with the service, the more I heard from people about being overwhelmed by the volume of information flowing in.
Most folks seem to have turned off the SMS messaging because it got too annoying (and expensive). Neville Hobson mentioned on this week’s FIR that he has trouble even keeping up with the RSS feed of his network’s messages because they are so abundant. And I have read of numerous people who can’t use the IM because it disrupts them too much, if it is even functioning at the time (which I can tell you for me it rarely does).
It will be interesting to see if the Twitter Phenomenon navigates these waters effectively by changing etiquette/behavior or if it simply collapses under its own weight.