Can we please fix twitter?

I love Twitter. At first I thought it was a fad. Fluff. Then I realized it puts you in a virtual room with a lot of people you respect and lets you follow their thought processes in real time. And as you try hard to tweet something worthwhile, every now and then you might actually interest, or inform, or entertain, someone else out there. You meet people, have conversations, learn things before anyone else does. It’s addictive. Really, dude, I need this.

That’s why it’s such a major bummer that for the last 48 hours, this has been Twitter’s status update form, for me at least:

Something is technically broken, you say?
No, something is more than technically wrong

I’m not the first person to complain about not being able to use Twitter. However, I’m not angry so much as scared. Jittery. Shaking a bit, man. I need my Twitter. So I’m willing to propose a drastic solution.

Dude, I’ll pay you for it.

I would happily shell out $100 a year to use Twitter. I don’t have thousands of followers, nor do I have Tweetdeck open all day distracting myself with updates. I don’t need special incentives. Twitter, I will give you $100 right now if it will help you fix your service to work the way it should work already.

I think it was Tim Bray who suggested something was strange about us all depending on one company for something that seems such an indispensable service. Twitter, that’s how much we need you.

Ne plus ultra

If you look at social networking sites, they fall into a timeline, like the reigns of monarchs or dynastic periods. Before Twitter, I spent some time on Facebook. But who needs that? I don’t need to find a stupid online game to play to fill all my empty hours. I don’t have empty hours. Also, I realized that what I liked best about Facebook were the witty blurbs my friends would occasionally post, between photos of their cats and “hilarious” videos and news stories. And that wit—that’s what Twitter does best.

Before Facebook, there was MySpace. It’s still a good place for bands and artists, but it’s mostly been supplanted for other uses. Before that, there was Friendster and Orkut. Remember them? And if you go way back into the 20th century, there were “community” sites like Geocities and None of these things ever made money, and so they eventually got supplanted by some other shaky venture. Everything in this space flowers, flourishes, and perishes.

Sure, Facebook has a trillion dollars and an advertising scheme that may actually work and a thousand developers to try to fix PHP, but they’re dead to me now. I don’t know how they’re going to grow, let alone hang on. There’s always something new.

Except there isn’t anything on the horizon that’s going to be better, let alone as good, as Twitter. For now, this is it. So we need to save it. Seriously.

Volume, shmolume

I know, Twitter can’t charge because then everyone will stop using it. Well, maybe we’ll lose the people who post 140 all-caps characters or tweet to inform you they’re eating sushi (“yeah, starving developing-world people, see how well I’m doing!”). Remaining users would probably also have fewer followers who manage to include a link to BUYBUYBUYNOW.COM in all their tweets too.

Twitter, you know where I’m going here: the users and volume you would lose mostly just contribute noise. You needed them to build buzz, and you got buzz. But you don’t need them now. You have a community the old dinosaur sites couldn’t dream of. There are a ton of intelligent people out there who view checking Twitter the way their parents viewed opening the newspaper. They have to know what’s going on. And these people, when they discover something important, they want to tell you first. Seriously, that’s so exciting! That’s what I, and lots of other users, would be happy to pay you for.

You get what you pay for

One last thought: when you pay for a service, you can demand higher quality. It makes me a little shame-faced to complain about something I get for free. Twitter, please let me pay you so I can rant and rail over your service outages with a clean conscience.

Good night, and good luck.