Ah Twitter how we love you.
We use you to spread the wisdom of the crowd, to share our growing wealth of information and to fill the cyber biways with our mindless meanderings. Twitter has spawned a whole ecosphere of services that are totally reliant on the whether the blue bird of Twitter happiness is up to flying on any particular day. Through this all Twitter has existed and survived because of the tin cup held out to rich sugar daddies who let it willing share its services with the common folks for free.
Sure these sugar daddies are going to want to see the day when Twitter finally starts returning the favours and make them even richer but no-one seems to know how that is going to happen; even all these years later. That hasn’t stopped the common folk though from trying to take Twitter further down the alley and make a few bucks for themselves off of our favourite bird.
As Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins over at Mashable wrote yesterday there appears to be another bird who wants to join this communication love fest by letting us pimp out our Twitter feed. Apparently this service; going under the cutesy name of Magpie, will suck up your Twitter feed and spit back to you how much spare change your ego stroking is worth per month. You can tell Magpie how many times they can insert advertised based tweets into your Twitter stream; which of course will affect the amount of pocket change you make, but at least they will be kind enough to let us know it’s an ad by putting #magpie at the beginning of the tweet.
In all seriousness though I personally think this idea stinks for a couple of reasons. The first is that while we might try to monetize things like blogs and RSS feed I don’t necessarily agree that things like Twitter streams; or any microblogging nonsense, needs to be monetized. Hell IRC has been running since we could let two computers communicate and no-one ever thought to try and make money from it. Newsgroups have been around since before the Internet and no-one thought that they needed to monetize their daily conversations. That is because Twitter is even much more of a partyline type of communication than things like blogs. Twitter isn’t a matter of producing content – it is talking with friends.
Monetizing your Twitter stream for self gain is – to me – akin to trying to sell off your sister on the street corner for a few bucks to stuff in your back pocket. On the other side of the coin though I could see where this could be a good relationship between Twitter and its users if the in stream advertising was a co-operative deal between the user and Twitter. It would have to have very strong limits in place but I could see a shared ad revenue model for Twitter for in-stream ads where they get to pay back the sugar daddies and we get a few bucks to pay Starbucks with (or to donate to a worthy cause) – but only if we agree to it individually.
At this point though if I see Magpie tweets coming through on your stream – well – yer done – toast – unsubscribed from.