Dave Winer is wrong and right about Twitter (comparing hype storms after the fact)

Dave Winer wrote an interesting piece about Twitter and Facebook and the relative hype of their press conferences.

He says I will get all breathless about Google in a couple of weeks when they have their product announcements, the same way I got breathless about Facebook.

Sorry, I doubt it. Google has squandered its vision over the last few product announcements. Google Wave? Google Buzz? Google Phone? Please. Fool me three times, I’m an idiot, OK. But I won’t fall for the fourth.

But Dave is right. Ignore the first week’s worth of coverage of ANYTHING. The truth actually shows itself after that. My old boss at Microsoft, Jeff Sandquist, used to write about whether he kept using something cool after a week.

So, let’s look at the press events of the past month:

Apple iPad release. Started a little slow, but now the geeks in Israel, are showing me their iPad apps and are excited. Everyone wants to touch the iPad and even the cynics want one. In other words, the product stood up to the hype.

Twitter news announcements. They showed off several things: new monetization model called Promoted Tweets. New metadata API called Annotations. New @anywhere. Now, has anyone this weekend in Israel talked to me about any of this stuff? No. In fact, the developers I’m hanging out with, when pushed to talk about Twitter, visibly yawn. Where did Twitter go wrong? First, Ev Williams didn’t announce the news. He let his employees announce the news after his keynote. And worse they didn’t ship the coolest feature, annotations, and still haven’t. Twitter’s @anywhere platform hasn’t gotten that much pickup, at least not when compared with Facebook like buttons, and developers I’ve talked to who have tried implementing it say it doesn’t do that much that’s interesting. In other words, Twitter didn’t announce much interesting news and didn’t ship the most interesting stuff and haven’t caught developer’s attention.

Facebook news announcements. When Zuckerberg was on stage he announced several big announcements, ones that we are continuing to talk about. New like buttons. Turning off the 24-hour limit on keeping data on your own systems. Sharing of data so that apps like Pandora can now show what your friends are talking about. Etc etc. These are huge announcements, much bigger than anything Twitter announced on their face, but even better they not only turned on all the features that morning but had tons of interesting customers who had already implemented them. I interviewed the NHL’s geeks who had already added these buttons. I interviewed Pandora’s CTO who had already added social features to his app. Other people had Levis to talk with, among other major companies. I just talked with the CEO of a top-50 website who is turning on Facebook features next week. He isn’t considering Twitter features. In other words, Facebook’s

So, when Dave Winer says that these companies get press because they went to Davos with me or something like that he is missing the point and judging me improperly. I’ve been pretty right on about these things BECAUSE I listen to developers AFTER the hype storm is over. This is why I follow 18,000+ geeks, VCs, press people, developers, and why I go to lots of events around the world to keep my finger on the real pulse and make sure that my opinions match the truth of what’s happening on the ground.

If Google announces something significant, yes, we’ll cover that too, but I’m getting more and more skeptical about Google’s chances. Here in Israel I heard the words “arrogant” “not innovative” and “incompetent” for the first time applied to Google. That’s a HUGE shift in on-the-ground perceptions for Google and one they should worry about a lot. The opposite words are being applied to Apple and Facebook and Twitter is just seen as “meh” here.

On the other hand, Dave Winer is totally right about what Twitter needs to do to capture the attention of geeks. Open up. Let us build our own Twitters. Let us leave with our data like I could with WordPress (note that I moved from WordPress.com to a hosted WordPress running over on the Rackspace Cloud with not too much trouble — why can’t I do that with Twitter?)

Oh, and Dave is a great friend. We fight like this all the time and generally Dave is right, but here I felt I had to speak up and spank him on the hand for being wrong about why these companies got the press that they do.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

75 thoughts on “Dave Winer is wrong and right about Twitter (comparing hype storms after the fact)

  1. I think most of the Google's latest releases are linked to their personalization! Where they try to get every information online about users move! Twitter really have to offer something more to compete with Facebook as facebook is leading the game(mostly because of its reliability)!

  2. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  3. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  4. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  5. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  6. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  7. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  8. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  9. You might have experienced some data sample sizing issues. Israel has a booming tech sector. I spent six weeks there last year collaborating with co-workers in Netanya. However, I don’t think Twitter has experienced the same level of success there as it has in the U.S. and Japan. So that might bias your sampling of developers in Israel. On the other hand, every one of my co-workers in Israel are active Facebook users.

    All of that being said, Twitter’s announcements were much more subtle, and you were right for calling them out on not having annotations ready for Chirp. Annotations are indeed an important new feature, but they are very open-ended one that will require creativity on the part of 3rd party developers. In other words, developers are going to have think and experiment a lot, and obviously they have not had a chance to do this yet.

    From a technical perspective, the other important announcement was around streaming. This is largely ignored by the media, since again it is a subtle thing. But it means that if you use something like Tweetie, Echofon, or TweetDeck desktop apps, you will see updates from those you follow in realtime. People already “hear about it first” on Twitter, and now this will be even more true. I expect we will see this on iPad apps as well, though maybe not iPhone/Android apps, as it could be a battery killer. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Google have both invested mightily in the last year to be as realtime as Twitter, and Twitter just raised the bar on them.

    The most disappointing thing about Chirp and f8 is that while both mentioned associating a venue to tweets / status updates, that was about it for location. I think both companies are investing heavily here, but not only were neither ready to announce anything significant, they are too paranoid about this to pre-announce anything as well.

  10. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  11. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  12. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  13. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  14. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  15. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  16. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  17. I’m going to have to agree about the hype/living up to the hype point you made. When I’m sitting at Panera listening to those around me I hear everyone talking about American Idol and the iPad. Anything about Twitter’s announcement? Zilch. I think once you can break through the mainstream wall you’ve got something on your hands. Nintendo finally figured it out with the Wii. Twitter needs to take facebook’s lead. My parents are grandparents have facebook accounts, but wouldn’t dare give twitter a try. All they know is that Rick Sanchez has a twitter account. Also, I would agree with the arrogance on Google’s part. There’s no excuse for the lag on my HTC Hero. I see so much hype about something like Google Wave, and then I try it, don’t get it, and don’t give it a second thought.

  18. Well said! It's about time someone started calling into question the excessive hype that surrounds everything the likes of Apple and Twitter say they're going to do.

    I get sick of it. Just tell me how this thing will help me and drop the 'coolest thing since sun-dried tomatoes' bullshit!

  19. Most people I talk to say that Twitter isn't anything but a bunch of people voicing their thoughts…it doesn't help anyone, and it doesn't really promote anything. But what really shocked me here is all the negative talk about Google! I can understand the arrogance, but I can't imagine that Google is going anywhere…they dominate too much of the market.

  20. Twitter will come around. Maybe Facebook had a better conference – actually it did – but Facebook is so much bigger and more successful.

  21. Google has been running into the internal “complexity wall” of late. Despite their rather innovative team and management structure and the 20% time free projects, they are not acting like a startup anymore. Which is the kind of hunger that it takes to win or at least compete vigorously in new categories.

    Buzz has shown that they are just not serious and driven enough about social, else they wouldn't have shipped it half-baked like that.

    The fact is, Google's business is Adwords search ads and Adsense ads. Everything else is an add-on for them. Social IS Facebook's entire business. See the difference?

  22. Excellent thoughts and one of the main reasons I like following your writings Robert. Now, just one remark, why call for data portability out of Twitter but not expect the same from Facebook?

  23. Scobe, it's not clear to me that either of you are right or wrong, at least in this case….

    Good to see that you finally admit to being an idiot :) The next step is idiot savant….

    Seriously, will the tech press ever understand that they don't matter that much anymore? It really depends on what the end users think, and how they'll integrate all these fabulous tools together. Twitter will survive the test of time, as will both Google and Facebook. Apple, too. I'm having a conversation with someone on Twitter about that. It truly depends on POV.

  24. Agree with Robert. Google Buzz/Wave/Profiles have all been poor launches. Some say Google only gets indexing but not social.

    Talking to a few Xooglers there are clearly issues internally between various product owners which may be a reason why Google products are so poorly integrated and slow to evolve. e.g Why did Google News release “Living Stories” as a plugin for WP this week but not Blogger? Furthermore why doesn't Gmail contacts and Google profiles work better together.

    That said I personally hope they do get it and make the right announcements at Google I/O because most of the people I admire – Chris Messina, John Panzer, Joseph Smarr, DeWitt Clinton, Chris Cabot etc. – all work there on some of the most important web technologies – Webfinger, PuSH, ActivityStreams etc.

    Maybe the release of the buzz api at Google I/O and the demo of several third-party clients will kickstart Google “social” strategy.

  25. Excellent post. Google is loosing ground because it has hit a plateau. People know what it can do, and are bored with it. The fact that you can get to Google and find anything you need (very quicly I might add) and be on your way is what hurts them. They are simply a highway for getting to the secondary roads, where more time is spent int he long run.

  26. Hard to argue with anything here. But I do still hold out hope for Google Voice, Google Wave, and Google Buzz (less so for Buzz). I know they aren't likely to take off in their current form, but over time I think users and Google will find interesting and exciting ways to use these technologies. I just think they have built a cool foundation that hasn't found a “home” yet.

  27. The communication differences among the three companies are huge right now. In terms of the recent announcements, only Facebook gave us really interesting features that were available almost immediately. All of their news was highlighted in the keynote as well. This style reminds me of the way Apple announces things, their keynote is hugely important and they leave the details for later.

  28. The communication differences among the three companies are huge right now. In terms of the recent announcements, only Facebook gave us really interesting features that were available almost immediately. All of their news was highlighted in the keynote as well. This style reminds me of the way Apple announces things, their keynote is hugely important and they leave the details for later.

  29. talk is cheap. better have one feature ready right now when you announce than two you say you will have soon. it is so powerful to be able to use and try something the moment you hear about vs who knows when. by then usually there is a new storm for another product and your long ago announced feature/product is way low in people’s attention lists.

Comments are closed.