Twitter has always been a company that succeeds despite its leadership. Many of its landmark featured started as hacks by users. Its first apps were all created by third-party designers, whose good will to the curb when it about-faced and killed most of them by restricted its API. Top-down features like Twitter Music have come and gone. The only interesting grassroots innovation of recent years has been users using image attachments as a way of going past the 140 character limit.
I’ve been getting less patient with Twitter in recent months. Then-CEO Dick Costello acknowledged their failure handling abusive situations early in 2015 but nothing much seems to have changed. Having co-founder Jack Dorsey come back this in Jobsian fashion has been encouraging but only to a point — there’s a lot of weird ego involved in it all. Twitter’s inability to promote diversity and the tone-deafness of hiring a white man as diversity chief last month makes me wonder if it’s just finally going to do a full Yahoo and implode in slow motion.
But today something new: we’re looking at doing away with the 140 character limit. My initial reaction was horror but if done well it could be interesting. I’ve always wondered why they didn’t partner with blogging platform Medium (founded by another co-founder, featuring similar core principles). The key will be keeping the feed at 2 – 3 lines so we can scan it quickly, with some sort of button or link to expand past 140 or so characters.
One could argue that these “fatter tweets” is Twitter’s way of building the popular long-text picture hack into the system. Could Twitter management be ready to look at users as co-creators of the wider Twitter culture?