The ongoing destruction of Twitter by the idiot Musk has occasioned vast amounts of noise as people flee to Mastodon or even renounce social media entirely.
As carts of apples are knocked over and small children separated from their mothers in the rush it’s becoming clear that everyone has a different idea what Twitter is…
For some people it’s about building connections – for work, friendship, love or pizza.
For others it’s a newsfeed which provides ground level information in realtime.
Others think of it as a broadcast service for them to push news stories or match results.
Other use it as a creative medium for videos and skits and wit.
Others it’s a mutual support network.
Or it’s a network allowing activists to organise.
Or it’s an ad network.
And for a lot of the non-exhaustive list above it’s a direct or indirect revenue source.
We’ve had online communities built around elective affinities in the past like USENET, Compuserve, Bulletin Boards and today like Discord or Reddit.
But Twitter was the first time we have had effectively a global stream of consciousness. For good and for ill.
When designing a service you always start with the user need. The problem is that services like Twitter or Google Search which have grown organically have innumerable unspoken, definitely uncaptured, user needs which often run counter to one another and definitely counter to a classic MBA market segmentation revenue strategy.
Musk is profoundly stupid, he has bought a social network without understanding what being “social” actually means. Zuckerberg is killing Facebook due to the same personal limitation.
But the deeper problem is whose idea of what Twitter is should win? And how does that keep Twitter alive.