The Death of Twitter

Today, I saw two reports presenting very different views on the imminent death of Twitter. The first is from people noting that sites like are reporting Twitter’s growth was essentially flat. The second is that soon, Twitter will pass two to the thirty-first tweets, which is the largest signed integer. Anyone who is storing information about tweets using signed integers is likely to crash sometime on Saturday.

It was just seven months ago that Twitter passed its billionth tweet. So, is Twitter really slowing down, or is there something else going on? Looking at sites that track the number of visits to the Twitter Website, it does appear to be slowing down. However, as people start following more and more people, keeping track of tweets on Twitter becomes more and more difficult, and people start using tools like Tweetdeck, Seesmic and PeopleBrowsr. Looking at traffic on these sites can also be misleading as people download applications to view their tweets.

So, what can the impending Twitpocalypse tell us? Looking at the number of Tweets per day, the trend is still up, sharply, even during the ‘flat’ month of May.

Tweets per day, originally uploaded by Aldon.

This illustrates one of the problems with metrics in a Web 2.0 world. Page impressions, and all the metrics around page impressions mean less and less. With Web 2.0, information from one site is displayed on other sites, and what you need to look at is the underlying API traffic, sort of like the number of Tweets per day.

From the bigger picture, I believe that we are seeing just another example of what goes on with technology adoption. Back in 2007, I wrote about a reporter at ad:tech who “was surprised to hear that twitter was still around and active”. In my blog post about the Technology Adoption Curves and the Twitter Lifecycle I commented, “As the innovators go out and try to convince people of a really cool new technology, and the early adopters start piling on, the laggards hear about this and try to convince everyone else that there isn’t really any value to the cool new technology.”

A group psychologist, who isn’t on Twitter yet, as far as I know, was commenting about Twitter on a mailing list and suggested as a tweet from him, “Adapting and resisting – two sides of the same coin”. Perhaps that sums up some of the discussion about the death of Twitter in less than 140 characters.

Over the coming months, I am sure that we’ll see many more blog posts about Twitter’s demise. They are likely to be partly right. What we see as Twitter today and the realtime microblogging of the future may look considerably different.

Likewise, I suspect that people that said that horseless carriages were a passing trend were right. The model T looks considerably different from today’s hybrids.

(Originally published at DigidayDaily.)