The old next big thing

I can recall when both Twitter & Friendfeed were talked about as the next big thing. But that was a long time in the distant past (almost 12 months ago) and an aeon in internet terms.

Thomas Hawk shared an interesting chart showing the growth of these two products over the past 12 months.

friendfeed.com v. twitter.com

It is interesting to ponder why one is taking off and the other is languishing. Friendfeed seems easier to use and allows richer interaction. While Twitter is fairly primitive to interact with and all the funkiness is provided by other applications.

This last seems significant. Twitter just offers a basic web interface and users are free to write their own or use other people’s applications to create a richer experience. Even the #hashtag in Twitter was invented and adopted by the users almost in spite of Twitter. And this has enabled search to become a key Twitter feature – check out the cool search stuff that PeopleBrowsr does with Twitter to get an idea of the possibilities.

And it is this phenomenon that encapsulates the trend for the web. Grass roots co-option of applications and platforms. We’re on the cusp of something big and the platform doesn’t really matter anymore. Twitter, Friendfeed and their fellow travelers are all ephemeral. The new next big thing will come along soon.

What will remain is the grassroots empowerment of users to co-opt the technology and to use it in unexpected ways.

One thought on “The old next big thing

  1. Twitter’s success is mostly that basic old rule about doing one thing and doing it well. In Twitter’s case, it’s being the message-switching system — and then getting out of the way to let other do-one-thing-well tools connect in.

    But it’s also the accretion effect. People will gather where their friends and connections are already gathered. And the more that are already gathered, the more “surface area” there is for more people to gather. I should probably say “snowflake” or something.

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