In a world where social media has arrived centerstage because it breaks the wall between community activity and trusted information and allows the best of each to be promoted by the other, why in the world would twitter take the retrograde step of hiding from view public comments from your friends addressed to people you don’t know yet? Here’s a rundown from ReadWriteWeb of the problem with this (found thanks to tweeting by JayRosen).
I’m trying to think of the best analogy for this. A party where no one you didn’t know could come? Or one where your friends could bring their interesting friends but you couldn’t talk to them or get their phone numbers? Or maybe one where only your friends can come to the party, but they can text with their friends across town?
In a comment, Michael points out that strictly-defined twitter “replies,” have never been especially popular reading among the “non-targets” of the replies, which he seems to base on the fact that only 2% of users selected the filter.
I may need to understand more because that doesn’t seem like the point. The serendipity of new interesting people is never the MOST important thing in a public commons like twitter. It’s an essential THIRD or FOURTH most important thing. Like the tweet from @ScottHepburn cited on ReadWriteWeb suggests, you may not go to a loud bar to meet strangers, but it feels lame taking your friends to an empty bar.
For the change by twitter to make sense, we have to assume that social twitter norms are firmly established and the public use of @replies to address a single person are somehow understood as “not for the rest of us,” while the use of @mentions (cites or recommendations of people LATER in your 140 characters but not used as a form of address at the START of the message) is also firmly understood as “now you may click here.”
If twitter thought this distinction was so clear, why did they recently change users’ own “@replies” button to “@yourname” and include BOTH mentions and “direct address” messages in one list for you?
The whole thing’s stupid – and one is tempted to agree with the post I saw speculating that twitter is trying to save server space (or something similar – since I don’t know their setup at all and perhaps it doesn’t even save any).
UPDATE: Apparently scalability is a big part of it, and, to twitter’s credit, they’re already looking at alternatives that will “bring back some serendipity and discovery.”
Twitter is the latest Internet innovation whose new modalities and high profile are helping technology to change old models of information and communication. Why would they want to tie an anchor to its leg now and act like it’s a chatroom?