Could Twitter be the world’s first widely spread private Internet protocol? And are we comfortable with a private company owning it?
Firstly, I love Twitter. I post pretty much daily, and enjoy reading and chatting to a bunch of people I’d never have met otherwise (hell, would I even know my sweatheart @lu_lu if it weren’t for Twitter).
But Twitter’s new annotations has me thinking (see Techcrunch’s An Early Look At Twitter Annotations Or, “Twannotations”).
I love the idea of annotations. I love data. The more the merrier. We can do so much more with Twitter when they add a feature that allows anyone to add extra metadata to a tweet.
The beauty of annotations is that Twitter opens itself up to becoming a protocol for all sorts of applications and devices. Imagine a TV with built in twitter to send a tweet with information about the show you’re watching. The annotation means the TV, or other applications, can show you what other people said about that television show, and could even display it across your television screen in real time.
Sounds cool. Well, I think so.
I love the idea of this. However, I worry that what Twitter is doing is trying to become an essential Internet Protocol. Just like the protocols that run email, or the web. The only difference is that Twitter owns the protocol. They can change it when they want. They see all of the data flowing in and out. And all this means we’ll rely on them, more and more, as more and more applications or devices build Twitter in.
I know a lot of people have been suggesting a decentralised version of Twitter for years. Darcy Laycock even wrote a great Twitter like application that worked on top of IRC (Kookaburra). I wonder if this might be a better way for us all to go.
I also wonder when we’ll all realised we’re locked in, and Twitter owns a large slab of the Internet.