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Twitter Made The Right Decision To Let The Market Define Twitter Annotations Types

By   /  June 21, 2010  /  No Comments

Twitter does not define the “types” of Twitter Annotations. This has led to some commentators forecasting a messy failure. A fairly innocuous comment by Chris Messina from Google in a recent post at GigaOm reignited this controversy:

“It could get pretty hairy with lots of non-interoperable approaches”

Dave Winer took Google to task for being a bully:

“Google can’t get their act together to compete so they try to spoil the party”

That seems like a late-at-night-written-in-haste-post and a bit of an overreaction.

David Weinberger’s point of view is:

“After the confusion there will be a natural folksonomic (and capitalist) pull toward whatever terms we need the most. Twitter can always step in and suggest particular terms, or surface the relative popularity of the various types, so that if you want to make money by selling via tweets, you’ll learn to use the type “price” instead of “cost_to_user,” or whatever. Or you’ll figure out that most of the Twitter clients are looking for a type called “rating” rather than “stars” or “popularity.” There’ll be some mess. There’ll be some angry angry hash tags. But better open confusion than expecting anyone — even the Twitter Lads — to do a better job of guessing what its users need and what clever developers will invent than those users and developers themselves.”

David Weinberger is one of the co-authors of the ClueTrain Manifesto and also wrote Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. So it is natural for him to take the “let a thousand flowers bloom” approach.

We think that Twitter took the right approach for three reasons:

1. They would not have been able to launch for ages if they had defined the Types. Twitter follows the law of the web startup – launch, get market feedback, improve.

2. Defining Types would have throttled innovation among app developers. The market will get to a standard in each type, but that standard will be better for having some competition.

3. Technical solutions to map/convert one type to another will appear as they always do when standards are emerging in a new market.

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