The shareholder letter above is an example of exactly what I mean; Twitter is still selling the exact same value the service offered back in 2006 — “live commentary, live connections, live conversations” — and the only product ideas are to do what old media like television does, but worse: becoming the first screen for what is happening now means a screen that is smaller, more laggy, and, critically, in the way of seeing the actual tweets one might care about.
It’s also an example of the worst sort of product thinking: simply doing what was done before, but digitally. The classic example is banner ads: back when we viewed content on paper, the only place to put advertisements was, well, on the paper, next to the content. And so, when the web came along, folks just mimicked newspapers, putting advertisements next to content; the result was web pages that suck and an industry in crisis.
Is it a good or bad thing that Facebook moved away from live stream-of-consciousness design? Given their success, I assume they have no regrets but Twitter is the only mainstream and free platform that allows anyone with an email address to post what they’re doing, experiencing, seeing right this moment and allows people to subscribe and see that moment without any fancy algorithms. Twitter has made some design changes to their web-interface that show you what’s a top-tweet from that user but you can toggle an everything view quite easily.
My point is, Facebook during an award show is boring. The algorithm can’t keep up. Things you’re most likely to click on bubble to the top and posts about what your friend ate for breakfast are hidden unless you go directly to their page.
Twitter doesn’t do that. When something happens, Twitter blows up and you can see it not only in your timeline but via the hashtag search as well. Maybe this was the wrong approach that will lead to Twitter’s demise but it’s why I loved Twitter and simply tolerated Facebook. Once they removed the ability to see the news feed based on chronological order (most recent), I was done.