The success of Twitter is only partially down to its simplicity. The rest of its success is because people have been told Twitter is better than FriendFeed, Plurk, Powce et cetera.
I use Twitter, but its is not even close to ideal; Pownce was but is now dead:
“But the success of most things on the web these days is decided by any so-called “A-list” blogger who happens to glance at any new and say (or write on their blog), something to the effect of: “Oooh, shiney!” And everyone else rushes in, regardless of the merits of said software.”
Twitter makes people lazy. The guys behind Twitter haven’t done enough to make their service more useful.
Don’t agree? We routinely use exceptionally complex software each and every day of our business lives. Do we balk at using Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop? No, we don’t. There are alternatives to both, but the fact of the matter is, if you want features, then there’s a commensurate level of complexity associated with those additional features.
Some time ago, I was part of a Skype conference chat with a bunch of guys with backgrounds mostly telecoms, one of which was a Skype developer. This was way back when Twitter was still a very young and mostly unknown. I threw in a few suggestions to improve Twitter:
“My suggestion was, if this is an accepted, natural part of the messaging process, why then not subtract that from the 140 character quota? So you can type on and be sure that the ‘@username’ isn’t impinging on the character limit.”
Thus far, that’s never materialized.
FriendFeed is a friend in need
Anyway, back to Robert Scoble and his reasons for why FriendFeed isn’t for thee & me. I won’t go through all of the points, you can read them for yourself in your own time. As an aside, Robert manages to articulate some very accurate points in a very simple fashion, which will no doubt speak to the everyman & everywoman on the web.
However, the alleged failure of FriendFeed is not entirely as a result of an abundance of features, but the inability of the developers to conceal the levels of complexity, allowing a more layered and progressive disclosure, or revealing of those features as the user begins to explore FriendFeed further.
And then there’s the lack of traction, which Twitter has so much of. Even with the gravitational force of Robert Scoble pulling tens of thousands of people towards FriendFeed, he’s not enough.
Here’s where my ignorance begins to show, because I don’t have a clue who the so-called top bloggers are; I take each writer as they appear on Google, or on StumbleUpon, or as suggested by friends.
But if you know them, they need to get into using FriendFeed, at which point I’m damn certain the complexity argument will just vanish…