To understand the impact of Twitter, consider how simple it is to refer to a Tweet now.
Copy link to a Tweet
Paste link to Tweet
Depending on the 3rd-party platform, a Tweet is embedded as a Twitter Card1
Now, imagine what happens if Twitter is set up as a paywall only service. Actually, you don’t have to imagine because the new owners of Twitter have already imagined it.
Both Musk and Sacks have discussed the idea in recent meetings, according to a person familiar with the matter. One such plan might allow everyone to use Twitter for a limited amount of time each month but require a subscription to continue browsing, the person said.” loading=”lazy”>
What would happen to all of the embedded Tweets like this example above?
Would you have to pay to unlock the Twitter Card?
Would legacy Tweets be exempted from such a paywall?
One of my favorite writers is M.G. Siegler. M.G. is a multi-platform writer.
Here, on Substack, M.G. has raised some things worth considering as well.
It’s wild to watch what was a large company
operate at startup speed again in just a few days.
— M.G. Siegler
Personally, I’m not using Twitter beyond search these days and I am no longer a Twitter shareholder now that the transaction has closed. Also, in the wake of the transaction, my thoughts go out to the Twitter team members being impacted by the changes being made as well as my congratulations to those that found a hopefully positive liquidity event.
When I was blogging more than I was tweeting, I considered the fight against link rot differently than the way than I do now. Granted, the signal and noise 14 years ago where I imagined a squelch knob2 was before I considered writing a newsletter again.3
Why does link rot matter? For the same reason domain names are perishable.
As the saying goes… what would possibly go wrong? Content drift.
Notably, this would not be the last time the embedding and refreshing of cached URLs referenced in a Tweet would result in an unanticipated edit to the Twitter Card experience. Of course, barring more Twitter changes to banned users, this particular example, you would need to have a screenshot before this prank could be viewed again.4
Perhaps the solution is to archive. By archive, I mean archive in the sense as suggested by Shawn M. Jones, Martin Klein, and Herbert Van de Sompel.5
For example, if Twitter is truly operating at startup speed and wants to normalize revenue from advertising with valued added services — make the archive step just as easy and robust.
Will there be edge cases like editing or deleting problematic Tweets? Yes.
Will that matter? Perhaps not nearly as much as we might think.
Also, the Tweet for Pay motif might actually survive the A/B testing phase. I tried Twitter Blue briefly to make a video of editing a Tweet for my own testing but that might be just the beginning of a true content management offering.
Back in 2014, I figured that Twitter years with Ev Williams6 would eventually lead to the reconstitution of Blogger with each successive wave of new Twitter enhancements. Now, I only remembered my prognostication because it became less far fetched as I reviewed my Twitter Archives again in 2017.7
So, at the risk of a shot and chaser playback… sometimes, I’m scary accurate.
So, what will be the next big feature drop (or dropped) at Twitter?
Until then… Place your bets!
As a reminder, I work at Taos, an IBM Company. If you’d like to learn more about Taos and how we help companies embrace the Age of Platform Engineering, check out this video:
I am linking to my disclosure.