Cafe Witness

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Loyalty vs. Community

I'm a tech slut.

I was just trying to post a link to Twitter that needed to be shortened. In the past, I would have used TinyURL, but since I discovered Tweetburner, I've been reluctant to go back. Tweetburner lets me see how many times a shortened URL link has been clicked, so it's endlessly more useful than the services that *just* shorten links.

But Tweetburner was down.

So I considered crawling back to TinyURL, until I remembered a service called bit.ly, that does the same thing as Tweetburner AND lets me actually see WHERE my clicks are coming from.

Score!

So now I've opened an account on bit.ly, and I'll probably never go back to Tweetburner.

Why? Because bit.ly is better and its URL is shorter.

Thus, I'm a tech slut. I don't stick with the services that work for me; I migrate to the services that are working RIGHT NOW, and I'll stay with them until they break. Then I'll site-hop again.

And yet...

Twitter itself used to break on an hourly basis, and the bulk of its users stuck with it -- me included. This, despite the fact that there were numerous BETTER services out there (Pownce, Jaiku, Plurk, etc.).

Why did we all stay with Twitter when it was unreliable and nearly useless, and yet I'm able to jump ship from Tweetburner without looking back EVEN THOUGH IT'S ONLY GONE DOWN ONCE?

Because Tweetburner isn't a community, it's a service. It's a tool I use privately to improve my public communications.

Twitter *is* a community. The service itself may break all the time (thankfully, it no longer does), but that alone isn't enough to force the bulk of its users to migrate away.

Which makes me wonder...

What's the breaking point at which a community will abandon a service that unites it?

Photo by reallyboring.

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6 Comments:

  • When a new service comes along which is sufficiently better to get critical mass behind it that most of your friends have bailed, you probably will too. At first, you may use both, or the new service irregularly. But eventually, you give up on the old service. Used friendster lately, for instance? Or classmates.com? At this point Facebook easily trumps Classmates, but I'm not sure exactly when it happened.

    Maybe this speaks for a service coming into a new niche, then growing, after it has critical mass, to usurp the purpose of an old one, which we then walk away from.

    By Blogger shadow, at 12:42 PM  

  • http://tr.im is even shorter. Does all the same stuff ... and i think it's a pretty site too....

    But like you... I'll prob. switch if another comes along that's even cooler. Although I love the fact it's called trim... which is exactly what it does to URLs. hahaa...

    By Anonymous Vergel E, at 3:13 PM  

  • Psst... Don't listen to Vergel_E, he only likes trim because of the double entendre.

    By Blogger SexCpotatoes, at 6:39 AM  

  • That's a very interesting observation, Justin. Could it also be extended to non-cyberspace, i.e. the sense of community that surrounds a place which keeps people there/invested in the area through problems and downturns?

    Could twitter be a metaphor for Pittsburgh?

    By Anonymous Brett, at 2:20 PM  

  • Justin,

    check out http://budurl.com/

    Its a url shrinker with the best click stats tools ever!

    Ilana

    By Blogger Ilana, at 3:13 PM  

  • I made my own for personal/private use - it's called 8lnk.com (I pronounce it as Blink) - so there. Who says that social media is all about sharing? muahahaha!

    By Anonymous Michael Bailey, at 6:24 PM  

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