One of the natural byproducts of Twitter's constant downtime, is that users are changing how they spend their time on the site. Many are simply spending less time there, and more time on other sites such as Plurk and Friendfeed. But I'm also noticing that the site is becoming less social.
Earlier this year, I would normally use Twitter during the morning to share links as I went through my feeds. If I found something interesting, I'd share it with my followers. Then at night, I would get on Twitter and use it as a time to interact with others and join in on conversations.
But as constant downtimes have plagued Twitter, I'm finding that the conversations and interaction have all but disappeared. I think this is partly due to many people simply spending time on other sites. But I think the bigger reason is, many people don't want to try to use Twitter as a place to converse, if the site is going to go down just as an interesting conversation gets started.
Case in point, this morning I spent some time sharing links from my feeds. Then I decided that I wanted to ask my Twitter followers a question, in order to get their feedback. As I was typing out the tweet (in Twhirl), the dreaded 'limit exceeded' warning flashed up. So my attempt at sparking a conversation had been nixed before I could even write the tweet.
Then, as I sat in a Twitter-induced timeout, I started looking at the tweets that had been coming through my Twitterstream. At least half were simply people sharing links. Most of the remaining ones were the 'what are you doing now?' type of updates. Very few people appeared to actually be engaged in conversation, or even making the attempt.
And that's a shame, because when Twitter is working, it holds so much promise as a true 'social' media tool. But for now, it seems that many of us are having to use Twitter to broadcast one-way messages and links. The conversations appear to have moved elsewhere, and unless Twitter can start spending that VC money to fix its problems, its users may follow.
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