Cafe Witness

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We Need a New Water Cooler

Now that Twitter has removed a feature they claim only 2% of their users were using (and which nearly everyone I follow has been complaining about, which I guess means we ARE that 2%), something has become clear:

We need a new water cooler.

Twitter is often described as a "virtual water cooler," serving as a gathering place for people who work remotely. It's where we who don't have officemates (or who don't care to speak with the same 10 people all week long) go to bounce ideas off people half a world away, in real time, with minimal obligation or investment of attention.

But when the service terminates one of its own best reasons for existing -- the ability to stumble across other users via "fragmented conversations" (a functionality, it should be stressed, that THE USERS THEMSELVES invented) -- it becomes clear that Twitter is less concerned with serving the needs of its core users than it is with appealing to the masses. (After all, the masses bring the money; the 2% do not.)

And when the service then schedules planned downtime at noon PST on a Wednesday, those of us who rely on it for our daily conversation stream realize it's time to create a backup plan.

You wouldn't keep every document you own on one hard drive, thus stranding yourself if it crashes. So why are the bulk of our conversations contained within one service?

Seduce me, Facebook. Dazzle me, Plurk. Rise from the dead, Jaiku, and provide for us a valid alternative to the service that no one wanted until everyone had to have it.

Image by dennis.

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  • As you know, you're not alone. Bring back another "secret" water cooler for the advantageous cool kids to use!

    By Anonymous Dave, at 2:28 PM  

  • This has not been a good couple of days for Twitter. I'm not sure what they were thinking our reaction would be, but if they thought this 2% would only be a little upset, I think they "misunderestimated" us! The next 48 hours will be very interesting.

    By Blogger tlg847, at 2:45 PM  

  • Justin,

    You may want to check this out:

    And consider using/encouraging others to use: or


    By Anonymous Nicholas Sloan, at 2:51 PM  

  • I vote for plurk! Come over to the dark side.

    By Blogger TTG, at 3:02 PM  

  • I like since it's open and easy and you can crosspost so if one's gone you still have the other.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:58 PM  

  • The first company/service that does this will literally take over the social media world. Especially if they have a new tool that can parse English and gives you the option to view a conversation or "thread" in its entirety.

    Of course we'll just get further lost in awesome conversations and keep finding more and more great people to follow. But it's a price we're willing to pay dammit.

    By Blogger SexCpotatoes, at 9:45 AM  

  • justin, just trying to share something you

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  • By Anonymous Mervyn, at 9:24 AM  

  • Well, I don't actually think this is likely to have effect.

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