Twitter's new language

How many times have you been to a product website and seen big bold letters proclaiming that you can CONNECT and ENGAGE and DISCOVER? Every time I see that, I hit the back button, and I bet you do too.

It’s because it’s vague. It’s supposed to sound exciting, but it’s not. It doesn’t say anything about what you can really do with the app.

Nobody wants to connect or discover.

Brent Simmons on Twitter’s new nomenclature. Spot-on.

I absolutely agree with Brent Simmons’s statement. Having read the articles by Cody Fink and John Gruber, I believe that—at least for me—Twitter’s apps (including the web app) have finally jumped the shark.

The new Twitter iPhone app seems to be aimed at new users and “casual users”. Now, why did I use this word, almost devoid of meaning, “casual users”?
I don’t think “casual users” are those who sometimes check Twitter to see what’s up; from personal experience those users are more likely to interact with a small amount of friends/other users, meaning that the most important features of Twitter are the timeline, conversations and direct messages. DMs, for one, are hidden in the last tab of the app. From Gruber’s article:

“Me”. Oh boy. Stashed into this tab are your profile, your direct messages, your Twitter Lists, and the interface for switching to other Twitter accounts. This tab is the conceptual carpet under which Twitter swept everything that didn’t fit under “Home”, “Connect”, or “Discover”.

And that’s exactly what happened.
As I see it, Twitter is trying to hone-in on new users and what it thinks are “casual users”; users who sometimes check Twitter to stay up to date on the latest happenings, trends and product offers and interact publicly with their friends and acquaintances.

Again, Gruber:

Presumably, this Discover tab is the successor to the late and unlamented dickbar — where sponsors will be able to pay Twitter to promote products and services.

Yup. Combine that with what Fink found out about this tab:

Discover is supposed to get better over time. Depending on where you’re located, who you follow, or what topics you find interest in, Discover aims to offer suggestions around those things.

Until now Twitter’s applications allowed the users to make use of the service according to his/her needs, even the web app. Now Twitter is trying to steer users in a direction.
For me this direction is called “We finally need a way to monetize this service.”, which Twitter perfectly entitled to do.

Unfortunately that means many users will now (have to) steer clear of Twitter’s applications. Thankfully there are alternatives; Twitterrific and Twittelator Neue cater to what I think are causal users; as they integrate DMs and @-replys and photos nicely into the timeline and create a seamless experience.
On the other end of the spectrum there’s Echofon and Tweetbot; two clients help the user make the most of almost everything Twitter has to offer and give him/her quick access to almost any kind of information.

I have found what I was looking for in Tweetbot. Tweetie and Tweetie 2.0 even more so, were the evolution of Twitter on the iPhone; the first clients that were more powerful than the website. Everything Twitter did to it after buying it, was adding features and altering it. Tweetbot has everything I loved in Tweetie 2.0, but with even more useful features, all packaged in a design that makes everything very accessible and a pleasure to use.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney