LEON JACOBS

If Dalton Caldwell is right, I want to be wrong

Added on by Leon Jacobs.

Dalton Caldwell has just painted a very dark and apocalyptic future for micro-blogging service Twitter.

He has taken one tweet by new Twitter board member Peter Chernin and extrapolated this future in the same way biblical scholars take one sentence from an ancient text and create libraries of dogma. Or the way paleontologists fashion a dinosaur from a tooth.

If Mr. Caldwell is right this would mean a depressing future for the Internet as a whole. The web has transitioned media from pure one-way broadcasting to the many, to enabling the many  having conversations in multiple directions. Mr. Caldwell argues that Twitter will become mainly a broadcast medium, catering for those users who tune in and receive feeds, instead of remaining the basic platform upon which multiple services can be built, limited only by the imaginations of our collective minds. Twitter would be about mainly about discovery, and undoubtedly discovery would be moderated by those who have the media dollars to invest.

Here is the really worrying part: Twitter has always been a metaphor for the web. Unlike Facebook which lets you create and share content in the way they like, Twitter is basic enough for you to make it what you want it to be. Perhaps a Lego analogy would be useful here. Facebook are those Lego sets with which only one toy can be made. Twitter is the bucket of basic building blocks with which anything is possible.

The difference between Facebook and Twitter explained with Lego

The difference between Facebook and Twitter explained with Lego

Mr Caldwell is suggesting that Twitter is now pivoting into a one way broadcasting medium. He is suggesting Twitter will soon be available only as the Death Star, or a fire station - to continue the Lego analogy.

If he is right, what would be the implications for the Web. Is the era of engagement over? Did we over-estimate people's need for creating content.

I hope not. I fundamentally believe in the everyman's ability to express the genius in him or herself. The unbound Web finally helps us find the ideas and concepts that could be hidden in even the remotest parts of the world, mashing them up with other ideas on the other side of the planet and letting them live. 

Perhaps Twitter is struggling to monetize itself. But I always thought they had immense potential in monetizing their search and data they generate.

If Twitter disappears in its current shape, let's hope it is replaced by something that still taps the human potential Twitter does now.