Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why Twitter is Stupid and How to Make it Smarter



Twitter, I love you, but sometimes you are a total fucking douchetard.

I feel like I'm pointing out an elephant in a room, or that an emperor who thinks he has invisible clothes is actually naked (hey someone should write a story about that), but Twitter, here are some things about you that are stupid, and always have been:

1. Twitter implicitly implies that people with longer usernames deserve shorter replies than people with shorter usernames, because the name you address a reply to counts as part of the 140 character limit. How does this make any god damn sense? It's like if you go to the post office, and they tell you that your letter came under the maximum weight allowance, but couldn't be sent because the recipient's name was too long. What?

Solution: Make anything coming after "@" not count towards the 140 character limit. Yes, people will abuse it by @whoopsIwentover140charslol, but I'm gonna go ahead and make a bold prediction: the internet will not explode if a message longer than 140 characters gets posted to Twitter.


2. Similarly, web addresses take up characters. URL shortening services exist (and continue to be created) just to get around this. I wouldn't call this out as stupid, if the rest of the entire internet hadn't already figured out an even more elegant solution than making the URL shorter:

Solution: See, when Al Gore invented the internet, he thought of these things called "links", that would "link" between web pages. Even neater, instead of typing the full address of a page every time, you can actually take any word and "link" it, which will underline it and make it clickable. Twitter, maybe you should look into this "link" phenomenon that is taking the internet by storm.


3. This is the stupidest thing about Twitter, that I can't believe people just take for granted: why do we read Twitter in bottom-to-top chronological order?

In almost every (every?) language, when you are reading a story out of a book, things that happen first go at the top, and things that happen after that go below it. Your eyes start at the top of the page, then smoothly read left to right, down one line, left to right, down, etc.

But no Twitter, you gotta be different. If Twitter was a novel, it would work like this:

  • Go to Twitter.com (or fire up a client), load up the novel you're reading. The last paragraph of the book appears at the top of the screen. SPOILER ALERT.
  • You scroll down to the bottom, click the "more" button, scroll more, skim each paragraph, click more, until 5 minutes later, you find a paragraph that looks vaguely familiar, so you figure you probably left off somewhere around there.
  • You read the last unread paragraph. Your eyes scan left to right, top to bottom. Then, to get to what happens next, your eyes skip up, over the paragraph you just read, to read the paragraph above it.
  • Everything seems oddly familiar since you had to skim the entire story just to figure out where you were in the book.
  • You finally get to the end, at the top of the first page, and see that more of the story has been written. You refresh for new content, then start the whole skimming-for-where-you-left-off process over again.

And of course, Twitter is kind of like a big ongoing story of things happening with your friends. Yet we put up with this bizarre non-chronological order of reading it.

Solution: Make Twitter read chronologically from top to bottom like everything else on the fucking planet. And implement a bookmark function in which the top of the screen is always where you last left off.


People would complain about these solutions. Boo hoo. So keep the old options buried in some menu, and have the rest of Twitter finally fulfill its purpose as a hassle-free way to keep up with the story of people's lives, in 140 characters of content at a time.



17 comments:

sarah said...

You are a super genius!

P.S. Nice lights!

Phronk said...

NICE FACE.

Jay Ferris said...

You should totally tweet about this.

katrocket said...

I've only been on Twitter for a week and I think it sucks, for many of the reasons you have listed. It's good looking, but it has a shitty personality.

carissajaded said...

I have such a love/hate relationship with twitter. You've made some valid points. Can we also add that in order to use it to it's full advantage you really have to download a whole nother app. like tweet deck?

Balkan Style Bloggers said...

I was never quite sure why I have never fallen in love with twitter, but you've said it quite nicely. Insert applause.

Ginny said...

I get so lost when I log on, meaning I don't know where the heck I left of reading and I just guess. That is when I remember i have twitter.

the replicant said...

If they don't fix it, someone else will. And Twitter will be forgotten until "I Love The 00's" comes out.

angryredhead said...

Ugh, you don't have a Tweet button. Otherwise I'd Tweet the heck out of this one.

Anonymous said...

Dear Author phronko.blogspot.com !
The nice answer

Tatiana said...

Aaaand this is why I think twitter is for retards...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phronk said...

So much hostility! :)

Just to be clear: I love Twitter and I've met so many lovely people because of it. I just wish it could get rid of these obvious limitations.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I myself think twitter is utter stupidity, but I do have to point out that in regards to reading in chronological order; You are posting on a blog that has the same order format as twitter, with the newest thing posted (or last book page according to your anology) at the top. Just saying.

Blondie said...

Y'now, another SERIOUS PROBLEM with Twitter is the direct messages. WHY SHOW ME THE TOTAL NUMBER OF MESSAGES IN THERE?! I want to know the number of NEW messages, like ANY OTHER MESSAGING SERVICE. In order to know at a glance if there are new messages, I have to constantly be deleting them all.

Phronk said...

Anonymous: Haha, you got me there. I think it bugs me less with blogs because there are fewer entries, which makes it easier to catch up. Plus there is less expectation to catch up; I expect that most people just read the most recent entry then move on. But yeah, it's the same in principle.

Blondie: Whoa that is a good point! Showing the total messages makes no sense. I always miss DMs because they don't show in Tweetdeck for me (dunno why), and because of this, I have no reason to notice them when I'm on the web site either.