“To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born a reasonable being. We make ourselves into one or the other.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Let’s do Twitter

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Twitter is getting bigger but it is not getting better. Twitter is dying, at least the good part is. I am not speculating about it’s future I am only looking at it’s present state, and I am sorry for it. When Twitter started out it had a magical force working for it – it was unknown, which puts it right up against magical. It was a completely dynamic and creative tool. It’s founders loved it, investors loved it, users loved it. It’s energy and presence were resonating loudly. People who are new to twitter don’t get it. People who are addicted to it still can’t say what it is.

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But, like all good things, dynamic quality has a sustaining force which moderates it and keeps it from burning out – it transforms into static-quality. It is kind of like a gravitational field that pulls it down. So initially Twitter gravitated into intellectual patters of usage – intellectual people started playing around with it (still with a quality of playfulness!) and realizing they can do all kinds of things with it.

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Soon after I started using Twitter I was following Guy Kawasaki (sorry Guy, no promotional link here, if someone wants to they will have to go out and find you). Guy is most definitely an intellectual person, he is sharp, smart, witty and can be very inspirational. He got some ideas on how to utilize Twitter as a social tool to promote his work. It was as if a damn had broken and his message stream started to overflow to the point I could not tolerate it anymore and un-followed him – he (though by now numerous  people were sending messages on his behalf) became noisy and polluted my Twitter experience. Guy is not the only person to do this. There were others who did the same and Twitter continued to succumb to the pull of static quality into Social patterns.

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It was now a just a matter of time before Oprah and her friends appeared. Quality was now clearly beginning to fade and make room for Quantity. The numbers grew and grew. Twitter seems to have embraced this patterns with it’s controversial Suggested Users List. Twitter is becoming socially crowded that some of the smart people who used it are considering walking away, some already have.

Though it may not seem possible, it seems Twitter has managed to filter even into biological patterns of quality. People are now trying twitter simply because they feel they have to (everyone else is!). People follow people in the hope that they will follow them back (a kind of foot-in-the-door marketing exploitation for making friends). Whenever I make a move in Twitter, the ripples include at least one lonely girl that wants to meet with me.

A Business Evolution?

To me, Twitter is a pivotal technology company. When it didn’t sell out to Facebook (for a reported $500 Million) it opened a  new chapter in technology history, it’s founders want to sustain the curiosity that brought them so far and remain true to their personal ambitions. Bravo!! Are we witnessing an alternative to the idea-killing and ecologically-polluting pattern of “business exits”? But that was just the first step of their struggle. Financial forces are still upon them, they are with them from the moment a first investor joined their team.

I have great respect for one of their investors – Fred Wilson and I invite you to watch this interview video with him. Mr Wilson represents to me a junction where forces collide and a potential for change rumbles – he is very sensitive to quality, values (not the monetizable kind) and he is also a VC – an, if you will, money person. I believe he has great faith in the people in whom he invests and in their ambitions and beliefs but he is also there to make a profit for his investors. He brought all of this into Twitter when he joined their team.

Money is bearing down on Twitter. It is pulling their attention away from improving by demanding “monetization”. If I could relay one thought to the founders of Twitter is it this. Your biggest  challenge is not in the market-place but in your investors. If you can convince them to connect and support your exploration and forgo their interests to make profit you may have a shot at discovering the magical potential of your dreams. This does not mean that Twitter CANNOT be financially profitable, it does mean that Twitter MAY not be financially profitable. You need to break free from economic forces and introduce… something else. If anyone can help you do this, it’s Fred Wilson. You are in a unique position to introduce a change in technology-business.

I would also like to bring together two thoughts I have collected from reading & listening to Fred Wilson. (1) You sometimes need to challenge obvious and acceptable patterns, those things people say can’t be done may be worth closer scrutiny  (2) “you can’t turn around and start charging people to use it [a free service](this is a quote from the above mentioned interview”.

1 + 1 = maybe you need to figure out how to do it effectively? A few months ago I would have gladly paid to use Twitter, now I am not so sure.

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