Microblogging started in large part as a medium to keep a close circle of friends updated on one’s activities and whereabouts on the go (in other words, without access to a computer). Since that time, as most know, it grew and expanded its scope to include meeting new people, forming new clubs and communities both online and offline, marketing, branding and image building, and much more. Nobody using Twitter gets surprised these days by notification emails about strangers starting to follow you, or by @replies from people many timezones away whom you have never met or heard of.
Yesterday I read a great post on ReadWriteWeb about reverse network effect that comes with scale. It’s something that I am sure many people have been thinking about, but Bernard Lunn was the one who skillfully put the thoughts together in his post.
My conclusion after reading it? Twitter as it exists today is just a beginning, and in its current form it won’t be able to realize full potential of microblogging. Twitter is currently constrained to following individual Twitter accounts. We assume that we want to hear everything this person or brand says. But this thinking applies only to close circle of friends (see the first paragraph). In the future, I want to follow topics, themes, places, discussions, communities, threads, news. And I don't want to do it on the client side (hashtags, keywords) but on server side (semantic recognition, associations, weights). I think this “ultimate” twitter eliminates reverse network effects by design.
This might as well be impossible using technology and academic research available today, but I am happy that we as a society made the first step to improve distribution of information, and that there is room to grow!