Props to Kara Swisher for prompting me to open Ecto and work on a blog post, something I have not done in a long long time (almost 5 months since this announcement of my Seesmic investment). I won't even apologize to my 122K RSS subscribers (what ?) because I am not feeling apologetic at all. I have moved on from blogging - feeling the obligation of developing 500 word pieces that took sometimes a couple of hours to assemble - to bits of 140 characters, and rarely videos, I post every now and then and I suspect that a lot of my “audience” - entrepreneurs, VCs, established Internet companies and other constituents have pretty much followed me to twitter. Disclosure: I did not invest in Twitter but a lot of my friends have.
Kara makes the point in her post that Twitter is not very well known outside of Silicon Valley - yet and asks when we'll see a mainstream adoption. This is true and I suspect very similar to Flickr's initial ramp 4 years ago. In comparison Facebook was broadly known and used in her sample audience, but I would argue that anyone actively using Facebook status messages might be counted in the Twitter “use case”: easy to publish micro bits of information, including pointers/notifications to other pieces media.
This micro-chunking of the information - the arbitrary limitation to a few tens or hundreds of characters in a world of Gigabit networks - drops the time commitment barrier to a couple of minutes tops. Most people can't commit large chunks of time to read/write/comment on blogs, but everyone has a couple minutes to spare a few times a day... not too far away from a phone or a computer.
Offering broad access on the web, on the phone, one message at a time or through applications, in real time (even if you are not pushing it like Scoble does) or in batch mode, allows time (and CPA ?) challenged users to get a quick return on the attention investment they choose to make at any point during the day.
Would we spend more time face to face in order to catch up on our day to day ? No, lack of time. Is it sad that we proxy a conversation with a 140-character max status update? No, because a tweet might lead to a conversation that would not have happened in a first place. You can't speak to me, I won't read you, but do notify me - sort of thing. Do I need to ask myself if I am a writer or a journalist before twittering ? NO. And that's why we'll see eventually millions of users of these simple communication tools starting to publish bits about their lives, even though they will never have a blog or use an RSS reader.
Note that I am making the case for a broad adoption of micro-blogging, or whatever that “super easy posting of a personal status update” is called. As to whether Twitter, Facebook or another yet-to-come service will be the “winner” in the space, who knows. But the broader audience, and the broader need, will be there. As to how you turn this into a business, and make money? There are enough smart people in and around these services, and enough usage, that something will eventually be figured out IMHO.
And if you marry that with the iPhone platform, it gets even more interesting. But that's another story... in 5 months or so.
Photo Credit: PinarOzger. Don't ask me why I felt that this picture of Tim O'Reilly bowing to Dave McClure was relevant to the story, but it did ;).