Is anyone else as sick as I am of all the mainstream news coverage onTwitter? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Twitter fan, and I’ve been auser since 2006. To me, it’s a form ofpublic instant messaging — yet another way tomaximize the value of my keystrokes. Still, I’m a little perplexed as to the media’s near-obsession with the service. If a day goes by now without the New York Times or CNN mentioning Twitter in some way, I become concerned. Am I really gettingall the news? Or just the stupid, too long, non-140-character version of the news?
I guess I should be pleased that I was a (relatively) early adopter and advocate of software that has achieved the rarest of feats in the software industry — critical mass. Adoption by the proverbial “average user”. Whatever you may think of Twitter, consider this: as a software developer, you’ll be fortunate to buildone project that achieves critical mass in your entire life. And even then, only if you are a very,very lucky programmer: in the right place, at the right time, with the right idea, working with the right people. Most of us never get there. I don’t think I will.
There is one side effect of this unprecedented popularity, though, that I definitely wouldn’t have predicted:the mainstreaming of URL shortening services. You can barely use Twitter without being forced into near-mastery of URL shortening. For example, this is the super-secret, patented formula I often use when composingmy Twitter messages:
“brief summary or opinion” [link for more detail]
Twitter only allows 140 characters in each status update. Some might view this as a limitation, but I consider it Twitter’s best feature. I am all for enforced brevity. Maybe that’s due to the pain of living througha lifetime of emfail. But depending on the size of the comment and the URL (and some URLs can be ridiculously long), I can’tquite fit everything in there without sounding like an SMS-addled teenage girl. This is where URL shortening comes in.