You’re no-one if you’re not on Twitter

October 17, 2008 | Leave a comment

As has been reported by everyone and his dog in the tech echo chamber, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey have swapped roles at Twitter. I really like the Twitter guys; I’ve met Ev and Biz in different contexts, and they’re both extremely open and generous with their time. Although I’ve never met Jack, I bet he fits into the mould. (Biz, of course, is on Elgg’s super awesome advisory board.)

The title of this post comes from the Twitter Song. My head isn’t so far stuck up the prosterior of Web 2.0 that I’ve lost perspective. Nonetheless, I’m a Twitter addict; I have business contacts, friends, relatives and celebrity idols on my friends list. More importantly, I think that they crystalised a new form of communication, which was originally birthed when someone at a mobile phone company decided that SMS could be for more than system messages.

The iPhone is misnamed; it’s not a phone. If you were to measure activity on an iPhone, I think you’d find that actual call activity was a tiny percentage. Instead, it represents a sea change: mobile communications is moving from a last-century landline metaphor to a fully-connected smorgasbord of data-heavy protocols. It’s by no means alone (my Blackberry has a similar purpose), but is the most visible.

What’s cool about Twitter, and the other services that are beginning to catch on to this model, is that it recognises that when you’re on the move, you don’t have time for a lot of information. Posting an update, or reading your friends list, is effortless; you can check and put your device back in your pocket in 15 seconds flat. They’re designed to be part of your life on the move, rather than a destination in themselves.

We’re keen on mobile communication with Elgg too, and have deliberately built the architecture both to allow fully mobile interfaces to be placed over the top, and to allow for API-based service applications for particular tasks. With the 1.1 release, those hooks will be more explicit and fully formed, and we’ll be rolling out some pretty exciting mobile-only features in the future. Stay tuned.

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