So an actor named Ashton gets a million followers and a talk show host named Oprah joins Twitter and the world rejoices. Twitter has hit that magic point of becoming mainstream.
Of course, there isn’t universal cheering, but that is to be expected. I’m sure the academic community was aghast when AOL users could send and receive email from the Internet proper.
The questions on my mind were echoed by Fredric on RWW:
Can the Mainstream Handle Twitter?
On its own site, Twitter will also have to explain its utility better if it wants to draw in all the potential mainstream users who will hear about Twitter for the first time today. Twitter, after all, still asks you what you are doing, even though that is probably the least interesting way of using Twitter. It is also important to note that Twitter, being the small company that it is, barely has any tech support besides its Get Satisfaction page, so a befuddled new users doesn’t have any place to go to ask questions about how to use it.
Can Twitter Handle the Mainstream?
This sudden mainstreaming of Twitter, however, doesn’t mean that Twitter has finally jumped the shark. In the end, Twitter going mainstream will barely affect most current users. After all, once you manage to unfollow Ashton Kutcher again, most of us won’t have to deal with Oprah, Kutcher, or any other celebrity on the service, though, who knows, you might soon be getting DM’s from your mom…
I feared that Twitter would tank today, which would be a bad, bad thing if you’re going to be on Oprah. Twitter, however, has stayed up and seems to be functioning as good as ever. The larger question is: what now? To which I answer: Open servers.
The reference above to AOL was a lead in to this. Long-time internet users will remember the days of having several email addresses because CompuServ, AOL, BITNET, and EDUNET couldn’t reliably communicate and send email back and forth. Not an efficient way to communicate, to say the least.
Then came standardized email gateways, POP, and SMTP and an AOL address was as good as a .edu and email exploded into the mainstream. Now it’s micromessaging’s turn.
Right now the leading contender is laconi.ca (aka Identi.ca) and what it will take is for the servers to have a protocol mapping so that [email protected] connects to my Twitter account and have tris [at] media2o.com be able to be mapped to a laconi.ca install. Just like tris.hussey [at] gmail.com works for email and chat.
What’s it going to take to get it working? More laconi.ca servers and more people using them and more clients out there to connect up to. Then…
We have to use them.