Changing the Twitter Conversation – Adding Talk

July 29, 2008

in general, Social Networks, VoIP

A good week ago my father said to me I know when you are busy you stop blogging. It’s never really intentional it just gets cut out of my day and each day forward makes it more difficult. For many reasons I’ve also been spending more time on Twitter. When Twitter first launched I thought it was pretty cool. Few of my friends instantly followed. Yet today more of the conversation in and around blogging is whether blogs are dying, or Twitter or Friendfeed is taking over. I read complaints about how comments take place off the blog. And they do. Yet more and more of the kick I get from going from blog to blog comes from my use of Twitter. I get links and I see horizontal conversation slices and I follow them.

Less is explicit, more is somehow exchanged tacitly. Perhaps this is just me filling the gaps but the reality is I think my peripheral vision is better than ever. And as the “earthquake” proved again today I learned about it first over Twitter.

Twitter conversations are also thankfully short and sweet. Although every so often they they become very active between a few. And very often they escalate into calls. Surprise surprise people actually talk to each other around Twitter posts. I have proof.

Now that’s not such a surprise to me. In fact one of the things that got the blogosphere really talking five years ago was Skype. All of a sudden, relationships that had been global and out of touch were enabled by free calling. The relationship factor went up dramatically. It also helped that the calls were of a high quality. On the downside the “callme” button on the blog has never really worked. There’s little recent in the way of presence information to make this work.

So I’ve been asking myself in an accelerating world where the peripheral vision is being increasingly shared over open feeds (Twitter, Friendfeed,, Pownce, Jaiku etc.) why telephony shouldn’t be managed in the same way. Aren’t these various profiles the directories of the future? Isn’t the 140 character update the “contextual” update and the reason to talk? We are signaling everyone all the time! And unlike the traditional services these are open. And I’d say this is also the Facebook problem. We won’t ever be confined to just the white or yellow pages ever again.

So what if Twitter or infact any of these open services were to be part of changing the conversation around Telephony? What would be required? In fact what is required to make that happen. Could Twitter bring in a better form of telephony

This is in fact a question I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time. Some things are obvious. APIs generally provide the opportunity for new mashups. And if you are wrestling with API’s then you want to work with open standards. So Twitter and SIP naturally go together. However these are not natural partners. Telephony and the web are hard to synchronize and the last thing anyone wants to see is a DTMF keyboard on Twitter.

In fact Twitter is about chatter and escalating chatter. Because so much happens in real time and in real life, people jump into the conversation. Well that’s a paradigm that telephony hasn’t catered to very well. Where’s the self selection? Where’s the opportunity for others to join in the fun so to speak. While it happens at the water cooler everyday it doesn’t happen on the telephone. We get boring conference calls scheduled etc. When our reality is more like the office water cooler or the party, we come and go… there is an ebb and flow.

So simply I’ve had my head down because I want to make Twitter talk!

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