Twitter Island

To cope with his dislike for how Twitter treats the microblog part of their platform, Brent Simmons has adopted a strategy of deleting old tweets:

“So I haven’t deleted my account or made it private. I will respond to some messages. It’s just that I’ll delete my response after a day or a week or whatever so that Twitter is a chat-only service for me.”

Justin Williams joked that Brent and I are now the sole inhabitants of “Manton Island”. That’s funny but it’s actually backwards; it’s Twitter that is the island. Everyone is there, though, in an overpopulated mess, so they don’t realize they’re cut off from the rest of the world — the open web, designed 25 years ago as an interconnected system of countless islands.

The risk on Twitter Island is that the monarchy can change the rules. Cars that once were great now can’t run on the road. Windows that once had a beautiful view now only look inward. Eventually maybe the whole thing sinks, with waterlogged tweets (which you thought you controlled) floating above the surface like lost bubbles over Atlantis.

The rule of the open web is much simpler: you own your content if it’s on your domain name. That’s why I have my microblog posts here on manton.org and with their own RSS feed.

I’ve been working on a new project that I think is the next step for microblogging. It still has elements of being an island, as most web apps inherently do. But mine isn’t just an island; it’s an island builder, with massive bridges to the mainland, to other nearby islands, to places we haven’t even dreamed up yet.