Stuff Twitter needs next (IMHO)


I'll admit, a few years ago, I was wrong about the original vision of Twitter. I thought it was good, but too simple and was positive they were going to have to create "channels" or "groups" in order for it to be really useful. But as its growth has shown us, focusing on simplicity was the right thing to do.

But now Twitter is adding new features like Lists and Retweet views, and I'm wondering if they're going off the rails a bit. They're losing the core simplicity of the service, but instead of addressing issues that have been out there for a while, they're going off in areas that I don't particularly understand. Maybe that's because I'm out of touch with how 90% of the people use Twitter... but there's some stuff seems head-slappingly obvious to me that are being ignored, and I don't know why.

* Longer tweets - Come on! We've been suffering with the minimum length for a couple years now, and it's starting to get ridiculous. I'm not talking about making tweets unlimited in length, but how about doubling that number to give us more room to put our thoughts out there? The length of the updates being so limited has created a whole sub-industry of URL shorteners for little to no reason. Even Evan promotes "LongUrlPlease", which is a plug-in that automagically de-references short urls. That wouldn't be necessary if there was enough room to begin with. Also, it makes adding any intelligible comments on Retweets almost impossible.

* Integrated multimedia - Pownce had this down years ago and Facebook as well. If someone includes a URL of an image or a video, I want to see a thumbnail of it in the stream. Why do I have to constantly click through to see what's up?

* Live tweets on the home page and in Twitter Search - They just made a change to the main home page where, like in the search, it'll tell you when you have new tweets, but it still makes you refresh to see them. Why not do what they did with the Election coverage and show the new tweets and have the flow automatically stop if you click the pause button or hover your mouse over a tweet? Why are whole other companies like Brizzly adding basic new UI features like this instead of Twitter?

* Better profile pages and homepage customization - The profile information in Twitter is ridiculously small, and no one can really use their Twitter page as their home page because it barely gives any customization options. All those hacks out there to add more detailed personal information statically contained in the background image is a hint that maybe this would be a good place to add some more effort, no? Also, why are tweet URLs just a lonely update on an essentially blank page? Many tweets are made within a context - why not give the option of having tweet URLs point to a full-day's list of tweets, #anchoring to the specific tweet id? It'd be much more micro-blog like, and easier to catch up on a friend's tweets. Also, it'd be nice to click on a specific tweet and see the full conversation around it as well - since the reply IDs have been recorded for some time now, this is technically possible, and very useful.

* Better archives - If you miss a tweet, it's pretty much gone. Unless you do what I do, and use a custom news reader which saves everyone's tweets since I last marked them as read, but organizes them by user and date. I can browse through a thousand tweets posted over the past day or so in a few minutes to see what people have been up to. No one else does it that way though, which leads to double posting, lost threads of conversation, etc.

* Have the option of auto-tweeting account activity - I like within Facebook seeing when someone adds another person as a friend. Why not have this as an option within Twitter? And why not have the Favorites star actually do something useful - like automatically firing off a Retweet update?

* Can we have XMPP/Jabber support back now? - Enough said really. It can't be that hard, is it? They've got $100MM hanging around, surely Twitter can hire some Erlang folk or something that can get it working stably?

Okay, that's enough. You get the idea - none of this in my opinion are drastic changes that would have too huge an effect on the service. Much is just adding in features, functionality and customization options that would enhance how people use the service, doing little to affect the overall site and be much less drastic than things like Lists and Retweet displays. What do you think?


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