Not all web tools are created equal. Some — such as LiveJournal, WordPress or ToodleDo caught me from the moment I signed up for the service. Others are used haltingly, at least at first, and slowly worm their way into regular use.
Twitter falls into the latter category.
When we first joined Twitter, we barely used it. It was not until we found Tweetie for iPhone and the Tweetdeck desktop client that we became heavy Twitter users. It seems that it was not the service that was the problem, so much as the interface.
Eventually, Twitter purchased Tweetie, and it became Twitter for iPhone.
At first we shrugged – why care?
Then we applauded. Good on Twitter to recognize their user-interface weakness and go out and acquire a company that designed a pretty good one.
Then we shrieked in horror, as the whole thing backfired. Rather than the Tweetie expertise in creating a good user experience for the tweeters out there leading to an improvement to the Twitter interface on other platforms, Twitter instead decided to redesign Tweetie into something I no longer wanted to use.
Today, I use Tweetdeck everywhere — on my phone, on my computer. I rarely remember my dreams, but I’m probably using it there, too.
And now Twitter looks poised to purchase Tweetdeck. To this we say to Twitter: keep your hands off my stuff!
Seriously, Twitter people. You have a great service, but are terrible at designing interfaces for that service. If you do buy Tweetdeck, we will not wait to see what you do with it, but begin searching immediately for a replacement — your interface issues are now part and parcel of what it means to be Twitter. Things would be better if you would accept that and play to your strengths.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Internet, Facebook is rumored to be looking at the purchase of Skype.
If there ever were two services that we use reluctantly, they would be Facebook and Skype.
Facebook is the network that nobody seemingly uses willingly — we all interact on Facebook not because we love it, but because everybody else is there. Every few months, the people at Facebook make design changes that annoy its users. And at least twice a year, they introduce a change which undermines the privacy of their users.
Skype is another service that people use because it is there. Much as Facebook is the default social network, Skype is the default choice for VoIP. Which means that if you want to video-chat with your mother over the Internet, there are no other choices. Call quality is surprisingly (but consistently) poor.
At least if Facebook took over, we could be reasonably certain that the leaking of confidential user data to third parties was intentional.
(Of course, after writing this, it is revealed that Microsoft has bought Skype. So we can presumably expect Skype to become yet another quality Microsoft product, free of bugs and never-ending security updates.)
Perhaps we are entering an age of electronic consolidation — the point in an industry where firms merge in order to leverage their talents across every aspect of the industry.
In which case — with the biggest players all having significant flaws — we may all be doomed.