Feature requests

I’ve talked about emergent development before but the evolving nature of Twitter is self-evident.

Many “features” of Twitter are things that are not official concepts designed by Twitter but devices that were adopted by users. The use of the @ symbol to indicate a user had been common practice on blogs for years. The practice of grouping Tweets on a common theme together using a #hashtag springs from the days of IRC. The act of ReTweeting — or forwarding — a message only became an officially supported idea in the latter half of 2009.

The inherent 140 character limit of Twitter lends itself to be as concise as possible — abbreviations are widespread. Some of the common acronyms have made it to common use but thankfully the text message culture prevalent elsewhere is conspicuous by its absence. In addition to the simple RT (the abbreviation used to indicate that you were ReTweeting somebody else’s message) several other specialised shorthand notations exist:

  • HT (Hat Tip / Heard Through) Used in conjunction with a username, this is a way of acknowledging someone who alerted you to something interesting.
  • OH (Overheard)
  • cc Derived from its similar use in email, this is used to include another user in a Tweet, usually to point out that you may think will be of interest to them.
  • via Is another way of ReTweeting a message but this is used to include a source in your own Tweet instead of being a verbatim repost.

The people behind the popular TweetDeck client are about to launch deck.ly as an alternative platform to Twitter in the belief that users want the 140 character limit removed. I think in effect that this will be essentially a packaged blogging engine coupled with built-in RSS delivery / update system. Ultimately, it won’t be Twitter.

All of which leads me to think: what new features do people actually want from Twitter? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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