Eating breakfast with Ampersand
— Millie Tran (@Millie) December 3, 2006
The Verge directed me to this piece on the origin of the @reply on Twitter. It reminds how (for lack of better word) AWESOME it was to be a part of an early platform/community like that and to see it evolve to what it is now. I remember when #ff was THE thing and when hashtags allowed you to have productive chats. #journchat was how I started gaining followers and met some people whom I still talk to today. Though I also used this horrible “waterfall” chat thing that logged the hashtags. I don’t mean to reminisce — as Old People do to remind us of the Good Years — but to reflect on how its early history has made it the tool it is today. However, I admit that I am not sure how the new imperative for a ‘consistent experience’ will hinder innovation. Is it the lack of organic user-led features?
Twitter’s been around for over 6 years now, and it’s most of it’s early history has been forgotten. The amazing thing about twitter as a platform and community is that it’s evolution has come through it’s use. Through use, people together evolve new ways of communicating. The #hashtag, the retweet, the @reply, follow friday, trending topics, real time twitter search, explaining twitter trends, cc-ing users, etc… These were all creations of the user base, people tried out ideas and build them. Twitter the company later adopted the conventions of it’s community and formalized the tools.
This letting the community of users create, and then adopting the practices is critical to how Twitter’s grown to be such an amazing platform. It’s also why new efforts to deliver a ‘consistent experience‘ are a terrible idea and if they succeed will kill twitter’s future innovation.