Twitter's massive attack

Feb 26, 2010
3 minutes read

Twitter has been in the news a lot recently.

You have had major websites trying to incorporate the “twitter look”, like Facebook, Digg, etc. And then you had giants like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo partnering with Twitter. You even had celebrities joining in. Twitter became so popular that it had to take extensive steps to ensure that celebrities weren’t being faked by some random person. (Not playing ball).

You’ve even had top companies trying to imitate it (read Google buzz).

And why did this happen? No one knew. Twitter wasn’t laiden with features like Facebook or Orkut. It didn’t have quizzes, nor did it have advanced photo album maintenance tools. Nor did it have some unique interface that the whole world just loved.

Or maybe it was. The interface was to the point. You either follow someone or you don’t. You write your update, or you don’t. Twitter took care of a lot of choices for you.

“Should I upload the party pics?” Twitter decided, you cannot share photos. That’s one less decision for you to make.

Everytime you start following a person, you don’t have to put him into a particular group. You can do that later on. Yet another decision done away with. “How long should the update be?” Twitter said140 characters or less. Yet another decision done away with.

Its this simplicity, and decision making (done by the makers of twitter) that has led to its enormous success. It doesn’t have a massive set of options (like where your status-update-box must appear, or do you want the side bar on the left or right). And people like this. They can focus more on what they want.

Of late, the key idea has been letting the user decide how they want things to be. Whether it be on software, or on web applications. You have massive options, which spell checker to use, or where do you want the start button to appear?

Or even more generally in life: which operation do you want for your appendix? Operation A has these benefits and side effects, and Operation B has these benefits and side effects. Choose one and sign this form.

The doctor actually has more knowledge, and is in a better situation to decide which one would be better. Then exactly where did his expertise come into use? The same thing is happening with the web.

So, either the experts can continue lazing around and intimidate others. Or, they can actually start using their expertise and help others in whatever little way they can.

Trivia: http://twitter.com/ was initially to be called http://stat.us/