Twitter will kill RSS! Twitter will kill newspapers! Twitter will kill blogs! Twitter will kill the North Korean President! O.K., so I made the last one up, but the service that’s 2009′s version of the second coming of Christ is supposed to kill all of these things depending on who you read. The problem is that it’s all complete nonsense.
Twitter isn’t going to kill anything other than Twitter clones. Don’t ask me which ones (without financials, it would be an uneducated guess), but I’m betting by the end of this year half of them will be gone, and only a handful will be left by the end of 2010.
RSS, blogs and newspapers all have a strong future…well, maybe not newspapers, but it’s not Twitter that is going to kill them along the way.
In recognizing what Twitter isn’t going to kill, it’s important to respect what Twitter is. The main meme around Twitter killing over services is centered on the current flavor of the month term, the “real-time web:” Twitter is the quickest in the land, and the quickest to deliver news. Those two points are true, but there’s quick, and there’s depth. Twitter for news is like old fashioned pan handling for gold: you get lots crap, but if you mix it around enough you eventually find something of value. Within networks, the process is easier, but in a broader context, Twitter is a Kalgoorlie Gold Mine in 50 degree (120F) heat.
With depth, you might be able to find gold nuggets on Twitter quicker, but they’ll always share the same trait: they’re small. Even if you managed to get lots of little ones, the sum total is often limited vs a slower, but bigger find (blogs/ RSS/ newspapers). There’s value in both, but one doesn’t kill the other.
There are some trying to overcome the challenges Twitter provides. Take a look at any of the Twitter meme trackers/ search engines and various other variations on the theme popping up at the moment (there seems to be a new one several times a day.) But in delivering results with more meat, they actually lose the real time web advantage that is at the core of Twitter.
One article I read recently dared suggest that people are becoming time poor, and hence 400-500 words is too long compared to Twitter’s 140 characters. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, an Easter Bunny, and a god called Zeus, because if you seriously believe the future of news is limited to 140 characters, you’re either drunk, mentally retarded, or both. I can take one bite of a sandwich, or I can eat the whole sandwich when I’m hungry. Usually I prefer the whole sandwich, and so it is with news, not just for me, but for many others out there. And lets not forget that Twitter is particularly good at another thing: linking to substantive news and information on blogs and newspapers sites.
I will try not to turn my disgust over this absurd suggestion turn into a crusade, only because some of the people agreeing with me are newspaper editors and owners, and that’s not a side I want to make a habit of fighting on. But likewise, rubbish should be called out for what it is.