We’re loosing the stretch of road that comes before
Come across an interesting person. You smash that Follow button.
You may have learned about them in another context and then found they are active on twitter. You may have seen your friend tweeting with someone. Someone you follow RT’d something. Maybe you used daily140 to learn about new follows.
However it came to be doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you are now ready to listen to everything they have to say going forward. All of it → ideas, news, updates, comment, hot takes, announcements, and thoughts. You are now going to be downstream of it.
Some combination of social proof, overlapping interests, surface area, and light exposure to their thinking gave you the confidence to click. Not only that, you’ve essentially committed future mental energy and time to consuming that stream of content.
And that’s a sad state of affairs.
It’s sad because you did those things for a reason and now you are on-ramping to someone’s life. But you’re only going to get the future, not the past.
The past is actually what made you click in the present. And for the vast majority of users, it’s completely hidden from each other.
You essentially have no way of knowing why it is that your best friends enjoy this person. You don’t have a clue about they typically share and discuss unless they’ve made the effort to add that as a cheeky comment in the bio.
But no normal user is going to do that, it’s too much work. So that means thousands of thoughts down the drain or at least you never knowing the 5–10–50 tweets that they would ideally want you to have come across.
It’s also socially risky to ask folks what content of theirs you could or should read. It’s risky not because people wouldn’t respond (who doesn’t love talking about themselves) but because you’re doing something that no one else does.
This discovery should be baked in by Twitter. All agency and work shouldn’t be put on users, after all, the service has all the receipts.
When I click Follow, I would like to see:
- Recent or notable interactions between the new individual and the people I most interact with
- Historical high engagement (replies, quote tweets > likes) thoughts from the new individual
- A package of tweets or links curated by the new individual if they so choose (remember automated DMs…that, but more tasteful)
- An easier way to see and browse what type of content they have shared (images, native video, youtube urls, amazon product urls, etc)
It’s all about people. People are the atomic unit. That’s why we go to dinner parties, coffee, and travel the world. That’s why we chime in and tweet with best friends, modern friends, and internet strangers.
Metaphorically speaking I can’t help but think with today’s model we are focused on getting a lot of amazing people (hundreds!) in a room (discovering and following) and then saying, “nope sorry. I think you’re all obviously quite interesting but I don’t want to hear anything you’ve done or said the last 5 years. The only ideas and thoughts that we will exchange are from this moment on.”
2019 twitter product ideas are lame. But there’s so much juice to squeeze.