The Twitter API Compromise

Twitter announced last week that they would be making several changes to their API that allows developer to creat applications like TweetBot, Instapaper, and Timehop. These changes are controversial because Twitter’s growth is largely attributable to the geekier-developers that created clients and applications that gave the social network the user experience that made it palatable. Wider adoption happened not through the SMS (texting) interface that Twitter launched with, but through apps and tools for smartphones and other social networks.

Twitter is a community. It’s a living, thriving, and changing group of people that began as a very niche geek clique and grew into the second largest social network in the world. The Twitter icon is everywhere. #hashtags ride beneath every television commercial, cereal box, and even on plumber’s trucks. Tweeting is a ‘thing’. Most importantly, it’s an active community that anyone can use as a soapbox or publishing platform.

The ease of use and built-in community makes Twitter a natural choice for a publishing platform. I simply cannot reach as many people or interact with such a wide group using my own channel. Because of this, I’m comfortable sacrificing access and ownership of what I am creating in exchange for amplification.

I am cognizant of the changes Twitter is making and how those influencers who helped build the social network are questioning the motivations behind the API change. This same audience is beginning to fragment and move to new channels.

As an early adopter and someone who was attracted to Twitter because of a the niche community, I have to ask myself if I’m willing to begin with a new community and abandon Twitter, which is still very active.

APP.NET is a new social network and an example of a new community that has taken advantage of those unhappy with Twitter. It’s captured favor with an open API and a paid service model that should absolve any reliance on advertising for revenue moving forward. The user base is a very tech-savvy influencer group similar to what populated the original Twitter timeline. The appeal is there, but a $50 funding to APP.NET’s kickstarter is the minimum cost to begin playing in this new network.

I’m not going to abandon Twitter anytime soon, but I am intrigued by the model APP.NET offers. It promises a stable environment with a consistent API for developers and a model that is sustainable. Success will depend on how the APP.NET community will grow and how many engaged users will pay for access to this new model of a social network.