As readers of this blog know, I think it’s a weak crutch when journalists, bloggers and others use the hyphenated -killer to announce the new appearance of anything that will compete with an established leader in a category (for example, any new “smart-phone” is an iPod-killer). Simply put, the term “-killer” has become short-hand for “a new competitor that must climb Mt. Everest” to unseat the dominant leader in this category.
Because Google is a Mt. Everest itself (when it comes to search and search-advertising), those of us who live in the world of hyper-ventilated geekiness tend to ascribe to the company more power than they actually deserve whenever they announce something new (which, in Google’s case, is several times a day).
Google, however, is a company that constantly throws boiling spaghetti up against the refrigerator door to see if it will stick. You never know, is this for real? Or is this just something they are trying?
For example, today Google will be unveiling some new features in Gmail that will add some Twitter-like functionality to it. (Gmail, by any measure, is already chocked-full of social features as, well, email is the most social of social media. And then theres’s chat and video chat and sharing and favoriting and connecting and grouping. And iGoogle has social features, etc., etc.)
But back to today’s -killing of Twitter by Google.
I don’t believe for a second that even the mighty Google can kill Twitter (remember Jaiku and Dodgeball and Orkut). However, I join the chorus of those who believe the world (and Twitter itself) would be better off if it had serious competition in the “real-time message relay” space (if there is something called that).
“Real-time” is what this is all about. Google and the rest of us need for there to be a world where we can communicate to and with and from each-other (in a group-way, e.g., w/ dozens of each-others) in real time, without it requiring filtration through one company’s pipes. On Superbowl night those clogged pipes are merely inconvenient. In a time of natural disaster or emergency, those clogged pipes could mean life and death.
Today, Dave Winer listed what he thinks any -killer of Twitter must have. And, as a creator, pioneer and champion of distribution and syndication standards and protocols that serve the needs of users as well as corporations, Dave’s voice is an important one to listen to in this debate.
I love Twitter and am, by any measure, a loyal user of the service — and an early “evangelical” (in the promotional sense) user of it. But I’m also a believer in the “journey” model of technology and media: We’re not yet at a destination. We’re on our way — and today just provides lessons for what is next. Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s relic and legacy.
Twitter, the company, can evolve into something incredible and massive. But it won’t be by dictating to us that “Real Time” is limited to their pipes and to less than 140 characters.