Can you imagine Romney doing this?
Lame title, I know, but I wanted to title this very clearly as to what this post is about.
As you may well know from talking to me in person, on Twitter, or by reading this site I've been a big advocate over the past year of switching to services that allow you to be the customer and not the product. I came to this decision a year ago when I switched off of Gmail to Fastmail, off of Google Calendar to iCloud, Google Analytics to Mint, Google Reader to Fever to name just a few big ones. I used to be a big advocate and user of Google, but the way the company has been ran over the past 3-4 years has rubbed me the wrong way. I liked Google during the days which they cooperating with Apple and didn't seek to undercut them at every turn.
Turning to Facebook, I was an early user. In college, I signed up when you still had to have an .edu email address to join. It was fun & useful for a few years until Facebook allowed what they call "apps" & then it went to shit. You couldn't log in without being spammed to death with utter crap posts. I began to use it less and less. And then in January 2007 I joined Twitter. Twitter was perfect. The design was clean. The content was simple. I liked the constraint of 140 characters. As time passed, I began to rely on Twitter more and more for everything. As a result of Twitter, I check my RSS reader apps about once a week, now getting most of my daily news through Twitter sources. Many of my local friends are on Twitter and I've met so many wonderful people across the web that I would not have known otherwise because of the service. People that I have great respect for are on Twitter. In short, I really enjoy Twitter. And then came the Dickbar. And the veiled threats against developers to quit making 3rd party Twitter clients. And the design decisions that made Tweetie into an abomination of its former self. And the lack of updates for Twitter for Mac for over a year. These things combined have let me worried about the future of Twitter. The consistent lack of good decision making by the leadership of Twitter leaves me anxious for a Twitter alternative in which users are able to pay the service for access to it so that service can continue to develop the service for the users and not for the advertisers in order to pay for it. And that's the key isn't it? Twitter's bad decisions derive from the need to pay for Twitter. Twitter has taken hundreds of million in venture capital money, and because Twitter is "free", advertisers have to pay Twitter to keep it going. So what is Twitter to do? They must make the advertisers happy. To make more money, they must put more focus on their advertisers needs. Meanwhile the users are the product. That makes me very nervous. I just want to continue to use iPad, iPhone and OS X clients to access the service that I truly love. I do not want to be force fed Twitter's bad UX decisions so that they can monetize their service off of my eyeballs. I've told you all of this in order to explain why I've backed App.net. What is App.net? In short, App.net is a Twitter clone with a classic business model. The users pay a fee (50$ initially) to join the service. Users must pay this fee annually. By doing this, the service is able to pay for itself and focus its development and design resources on the users and not advertisers or what their venture capitalist sugar daddies want them to. Some people have said this idea will fail. Some people have criticized App.net for a few poorly made marketing decisions early on when they first announced their intentions. I've given them a pass on all of these things because I desperately hope they will succeed. If they do not succeed, then who will? If any of this makes sense to you, I suggest you check out join.app.net. App.net is trying to start their initial funding via kickstarter-like campaign. They cannot use Kickstarter because Kickstarter's own terms of service forbid companies from using it to start a new company. So they've setup the equivalent off of their own website. A lot of notable people have gotten on board and contributed their respective $50 as well. App.net already has an early alpha version online for you to take a look at. If you email firstname.lastname@example.org once you've backed the project and ask, they'll go ahead and activate your account which they're doing for people manually. If you back the project and are let in, you can find me there @joel. As of this writing, App.net sits at $325,400 of their $500,000 goal. There are 4 days left to contribute. As of yesterday, it looked as if App.net's campaign would fail miserably short of its goal, sitting at around $245,000 committed. But then, John Gruber posted about this on Daring Fireball yesterday evening. Since then they've picked up over $80,000 since. If this rate of contributions keep up they might just meet their goal by Monday. I hope this succeeds. Update: Less than $60,009 to go! Just over 48 hours to do it.
Tweetbot is out and contains a ton of new features and improvements. Federico Viticci over at Mac Stories has a fantastic comprehensive review of the new version, but this particular feature caught my attention as I've wanted it for a long time:
Last, some minor touches in version 2.3 will contribute to improving usability and to allowing users customize their timelines to their needs and tastes: retweets from specific users can now be disabled at any time, and it’s possible to quickly open the last saved draft by holding down the tweet compose button. The timeline sync bookmark icon is now an optional setting, and Tweetbot is capable of uploading high-res images when on WiFi. So now those brief acquaintances of mine who I work with or are a friend of a friend who retweet Spa deals or topics I don't care about, I can block without having to go to Twitter.com to toggle that setting.
Nick Bilton, at The New York Times' Bits blog:
We skitter around the world with our smartphone cameras, taking pictures of leaves and sugar cubes and sunsets, then applying filters and making even the mundane look beautiful. Clearly, design is becoming increasingly more relevant to people. Google Plus doesn’t seem to understand that. Google’s iPhone app, for example, looks like a sketch that was never finished. And if you think the iPhone isn’t important for a good social network, just ask Instagram, an iPhone-only photo app that has more than 27 million users. That’s a quarter of Google Plus’s users, and Instagram didn’t need the Google homepage to get there.
We are excited to announce the release of Tweetbot 2.1. As of this post, the iPhone version is still waiting for review in the App Store queue, but the iPad version has been approved and here’s what’s new: * iPad graphics optimized for the new iPad’s retina display * Streaming (when on WiFi with settings to disable it) * The “new tweets” sound is now limited to mentions, DM’s, and new tweets via pull-to-refresh * Double-tapping on the timeline tab button takes you to last read tweet before going to the top * Improvements to the Tweetmarker service * Camera+ 3.0 Capturing/Editing Support * Bug fixes related to direct messages * Many other bug fixes Loving the update so far. Can't wait for the desktop client to be released. Best Twitter app, by far.
Twitter launched its new design today. Yes, they only just launched a redesign back in September. This is not the New Twitter, but the New New Twitter. Many people do not like the new redesign, which has been rolled out across their entire client ecosystem: their website, their iPhone & Android apps, Tweetdeck, the web version of Tweetdeck, their mobile website… everything. John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball, wrote an excellent point-by-point critique of the new changes. Now, that being said, like John I too have quit using the iPhone Twitter client and primarily use Tweetbot on my iPhone. Also, due to Tweetbot not having an iPad app, I use Twitterrific on my iPad. Still though, John's article is worth reading and accurately sums up the problems with the new design. From Gruber's article:
What also worries me is that these changes suggest not only a difference in opinion regarding how a Twitter client should work, but also regarding just what the point is of Twitter as a service. The Twitter service I signed up for is one where people tweet 140-character posts, you follow those people whose tweets you tend to enjoy, and that’s it. The Twitter service this new UI presents is about a whole lot more — mass-market spoonfed “trending topics” and sponsored content. It’s trying to make Twitter work for people who don’t see the appeal of what Twitter was supposed to be. It all makes sense if you think of the label under the “#” tab as reading “Dickbar” instead of “Discover”. Twitter 4.0 for iPhone lacks the surprise, delight, and attention to detail of a deserving successor to Tweetie, offering instead a least common denominator experience that no one deserves. Read the rest.