Research is great, but Twitter is shipping…

Shipping is a feature. I keep getting reminded of that. Scientific American has a long article on the MyLifeBits research that Microsoft (er, Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell) is doing. You can see these two guys in a video series I did while back at Microsoft.

I wish I could play with their stuff — the research they are doing is interesting. But, I find it interesting that we’re using Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, MySpace, Flickr, and other things to record our lives and share them with either friends/family or the world.

This is the problem with the “boil the ocean” approach. Gordon and Jim might end up shipping something brilliant, but will we care when it finally comes out?

This is why I’m scared by what Ray Ozzie is doing. Clearly Ray has bought into the Steve Jobs’ school of “keep it secret, don’t talk, and ship something cool.”

I just don’t think that approach wins many friends in the Internet space. Why? Well, it’s the iteration of things that gets us involved.

I think back to how I got into Twitter. It wasn’t because Steven Levy or Walt Mossberg told me about it.

Yeah, I can hear you saying “Twitter is lame, it doesn’t do much.”

That’s the point. It started small, with a very constrained feature set (frustratingly small, at times when you want to tell your friends something more than a few hundred characters worth) but it works, it started in the grass roots, and it’s getting more interesting with every new user that joins it.

It’s a little puddle growing bigger. Meantime we’re waiting for Ray Ozzie to tell us something.