Trying Something New Today

A couple days ago Jay Rosen reached out to me on Twitter asking if he could do a guest post on AVC:

I really don’t like guest posts. I’ve done them, of course, mostly in my MBA Mondays series but also in times of crisis and confusion, like the time I asked JLM to explain TARP to us. So I suggested something else to Jay:

And he delivered on it yesterday:

So here’s how this adaptation of the guest post concept will work.

First, I’d like you all to read Jay’s post. It’s about Twitter building an editorial team and becoming an editorial company.

Now, I will respond here at AVC.


Twitter is a news company. It is where people go to make and break news.

That’s my line, not theirs. But I will gladly give it to them if they will use it. Because that is what Twitter is. It’s not a social network like Facebook. It’s not photo sharing app like Instagram. It’s not a messaging app like Kik. It is not a video sharing app like YouTube. It has elements of all of those things because people use Twitter in different ways. But at its core, Twitter is a news product. It reminds me more of The New York Times than Facebook and I use it more like The New York Times than Facebook. In fact, I use Twitter more than the New York Times for what I used to use the New York Times for.

But the issue with Twitter is that in order to get value out of it like I get value out of it you need to customize it. The reason I get value out of it is that I have configured Twitter to work for me. I have curated a list of just under 1000 people I follow. I like dozens of tweets a day which tells Twitter a lot about me. I reply to tweets which further tells Twitter about me. And then Twitter can recommend “who to follow” and “what I missed”. These products are fantastic and deliver for me bigtime every single day.

But imagine a new user who Twitter knows nothing about. How the hell are they going to get value out of Twitter? Or imagine the casual user who does not want to figure out who to follow and doesn’t want to engage in order to tell Twitter more about them. How the hell are they going to get value out of Twitter? The answer is Twitter the company is going to curate Twitter the news product for folks like that. And they are going to do that by hiring editors to curate various streams. This effort is called Project Lightning and that is what Jay was posting about.

So first and foremost, I am a huge fan of Twitter the company making Twitter the news product better for folks who are not power users of it. This is long overdue and badly needed. Not just for Twitter the company or Twitter the stock. It is badly needed for Twitter the product. Twitter is a network. The more people who are on it, the better it is for everyone who uses it. So addressing the new user and casual user segment of the market is something Twitter absolutely needs to do. And in full disclosure, I own a lot of Twitter the stock and I am “conflicted” in what I write here. Which is why you should pay more attention, not less, to this post.

Now on to Jay’s meta question. What editorial voice will Twitter assume? Who is the soul of Twitter’s editorial pulpit? We all know Rupert Murdoch detests Bill de Blasio so when we read negative stories about the Mayor in the NY Post, we expect it. We all know The New York Times is a “liberal rag” so when they decry Trump’s tax plan as regressive, we know where they are coming from. But where will we expect Twitter’s curation products to be coming from?

I hope Twitter doesn’t try to be “fair and balanced” also known as boring. I hope they have an agenda or ideally multiple agendas and I hope they are transparent about them. I loved Dick Costolo’s line that “Twitter is the free speech wing of the free speech party.” I hope they keep that stance. But does that conflict with bad people using Twitter to do bad things? Yes, of course it does. How will they walk that fine line? Telling us how they plan to do that would be a good first step. They can evolve it over time, but please tell us how they are thinking about it right now.

I also love Jay’s point about Jack’s obsession with raw and real-time news, like police scanners, which provided the formative idea for Twitter. I would love to see Twitter do a channel for that kind of stuff. The more real-time the better. A news product should be obsessed with the news and the more obsessive the better.

I also like Jay’s point that “it will be easy to argue with the choices Twitter makes in curating the news.” And argue they will. That’s what Twitter’s user do, right in the product. So Twitter ought to amplify that in some way or multiple ways. Having a voice, an agenda, and an attitude doesn’t mean silencing the naysayers about those things. The media outlets that amplify the naysayers seem to do better, not worse, on the Internet.

In summary, I am very bullish on a curated Twitter. I will use it and I am sure that hundreds of millions of others will too. But Jay is right that how Twitter the company curates Twitter the product will be important. It must have a voice, an agenda, an attitude, and a soul. There are many experienced people in the world of journalism who know how to deliver that. But of course, it all starts at the top. Which is why I hope they keep the team that is in place there right now. It is a good one and it is the right one.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    – Twitter the company – Twitter the stock – Twitter the product – Twitter the network – Twitter the brandSeems to me the real work is making these myriad moving parts symbiotic and not cannibalistic.

    1. JamesHRH

      Amazingly, they seem to suffer from the single most common founder issue ever: the inability to separate themselves from the company.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        Right. Their sense of identity (or even self-esteem) seems to be tied up with their companies. Happens a lot outside of startup land too, of course.

  2. awaldstein

    neither bullish or not.twitter’s today’s point of view is my networks on it.if they–as in twitter–has a personality or pov who knows what it is? not i.they have shown that they don’t understand the non power power, the followers very well. honestly not optimistic from their track record that they will make this interesting though hope they do. this is acting out of market need which takes a lot of balance to do right.

  3. David Semeria

    They should just outsource curation to The Economist – the most liberal, witty and authentic voice out there.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      The Economist thinks your country, and the rest of Europe, should accept everyone from the 3rd world who wants to move there. That’s very witty.In contrast, I was pleasantly surprised by Martin Wolf’s skeptical recent column on migration in the FT.

      1. David Semeria

        Well Dave, I did say they were liberal 😉

        1. pointsnfigures

          They are, and they aren’t always correct!

          1. David Semeria

            Not even Einstein was always correct….

        2. Dave Pinsen

          For wit, I liked the headline of an FT Lex item about an aluminum company: “Thinking outside the baux”.

          1. David Semeria

            Lex is excellent (perhaps the Pearson connection is relevant here). I hope it remains the same after the change of ownership.

      2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        About as witty as the pedestal on The statue of liberty :Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Throwing stones ‘literally’ at strong moral positions has got all sorts of people into trouble over the years

    2. fredwilson

      i love the economist’s voice

      1. David Semeria

        Yeah, it just goes to prove the power of editorial independence — not even the board can sack The Economist’s editor in chief.

      2. Girish Mehta

        I like it a lot. Disagree with it sometimes, but its good there is something like it out there.

    3. JamesHRH

      I actually had this thought the other day, that the Economist would make a good home for Twitter.One is raw feed, the other is top notch reporting.

  4. Anne Libby

    I hope that non-curated Twitter will continue to be available for those of us who are already on board. (And I’ll watch curated Twitter with cautious optimism.)

    1. fredwilson

      of course it will. the idea that twitter is going to take away the thing we all love is preposterous

      1. Anne Libby

        Good.I left FB for many reasons. One was that what I saw from “friends” — which had seemed raw — lost any semblance of its rawness. This is when FB also lost any semblance of relevance.

      2. LE

        the idea that twitter is going to take away the thing we all love is preposterousWell if Anne thought that for sure others will so that is something they need to make sure gets out in their PR releases.

      3. Vasudev Ram

        >the idea that twitter is going to take away the thing we all love is preposterousHmm. I hope it does not work out like “pre-Posterous”.

  5. Dave Pinsen

    I hope Twitter doesn’t try to be “fair and balanced” also known as boring. I hope they have an agenda or ideally multiple agendas and I hope they are transparent about them. I loved Dick Costolo’s line that “Twitter is the free speech wing of the free speech party.” I hope they keep that stance. One could argue they’ve already abandoned that stance. Journalist Chuck Johnson, who was ahead of the curve in calling out frauds like the UVA fraternity rape hoax, has been indefinitely suspended from Twitter, after being critical of a #BlackLivesMatter activist who’s an acquaintance of Jack Dorsey. Influential (if, at times objectionable) blogger Heartiste was banned from Twitter for a retweet. I’d be surprised if the person who sent the original tweet was banned.Facebook, whose CEO advocates for increased immigration, says it didn’t ban 4 scholarly articles by the Center for Immigration Studies for ten days, that were unreadable on its site for 10 days, before the CIS called them out on it publicly. Twitter can have an advantage of Facebook if it is more open to diverse political views.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree. but you understand that many times this is a “he said, she said” situation in which determining the appropriate action is tricky and will always be questioned. which is good.

      1. pointsnfigures… Here are some good principles for Twitter to follow regarding free expression. It’s from the University of Chicago. It allows everyone to have a voice. Free expression and speech means taking the stuff you agree with and tolerating the stuff you don’t. Twitter banning the reporter in @daveinhackensack:disqus’s example is a clear example of being non-tolerant. Tolerance doesn’t mean I agree with you-but I agree with your right to express yourself.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        In this particular case, it wasn’t really ambiguous. Chuck, an investigative reporter, tweeted “Help me take out Deray”. Deray reported him for a violent threat, when he knew “take out” was being used there as a synonym for “expose”. It’s not as if Twitter has a zero-tolerance policy on figurative language like that; it was pretty clearly politically motivated. Chuck had previously exposed another activist for impropriety.

      3. JamesHRH

        The first thing that comes to mind, when I read this part of the thread is, ‘What in the hell does this have to do with Twitter?’.Editorial is completely out of place.

  6. andyswan

    Twitter shouldn’t have a voice. Its users should.Twitter shouldn’t curate, its users should.I think Twitter seeing itself as a news provider would be absolutely devastating.Twitter should see itself as Disney. A media empire. Its channels of content created by its users, curated by its users, and consumed by the world.Twitter’s focus should be on ENABLING its users to become content superstars, its users to become curation masters.Give us the platform to create, the tools to curate, the opportunities to monetize. We don’t need your “voice”…we have our own.

    1. LIAD

      agree. twitter the utility is where it’s at.what’s the content network equivalent of net neutrality??

    2. fredwilson

      it can do both at the same time. i already does everything you are asking for. this is adding something for those who don’t value or get value from the approach you articulate

      1. andyswan

        I don’t feel like Twitter does anything at all to help me build my audience, make my content better, monetize my content, or allow me to curate for others.Why can’t I buy a concert ticket direct from Taylor Swift from a tweet?  Why can’t Aaron Rodgers push out premium tweets to subscribers during halftime? They are Disney– but with zero investment in their talent.I watch Jack’s tweets… His decisions on which journalists to ban…some may like his eye for “the story”…many won’t._____________________________

        1. William Mougayar

          You can buy a concert ticket from Taylor if she decides to use the new Shopify Buy button Twitter integration.

          1. andyswan

            I dig.

          2. awaldstein

            Shopify is so all over the place.Many cool things but very few that nail it.From a product perspective a good enough is good enough company.

          3. William Mougayar

            And a $3B market cap, about 3x the IPO open. So they must be doing something right. Maybe not for your exact needs… but does any other product come closer?

          4. awaldstein

            Spoken like a true analyst and pundit, not a user.Point well taken though.

          5. William Mougayar

            I am not a user. But met their CFO yesterday at a private gathering, as he told the story of their IPO.

          6. awaldstein

            super impressive i agree.super smart as well.just a really poor system that has trapped many users.example–they have the most available, nicest support people on chat or phone on the planet.fact–they can do almost nothing as they have no internal changes to the app of any substance in the last three years.they have massive aps, very few of utility and all only lightly integrated.i wish them well.i would never recommend them to anyone honestly.

          7. Cam MacRae

            It is a nightmare for me to place an order with someone using spotify. As they have a very narrow perspective of what an address looks like I invariably have to send an email to the store explaining how their fulfillment people need to write my address if their package is to have any hope of reaching me. I’ve never needed to do this for any other platform.

          8. JamesHRH

            That was a good group you were hanging with yesterday. Hard to get a CDN startup crowd together that would top that crew.

          9. William Mougayar

            It was the OMERS Ventures ceo summit with their portfolio companies. (I’m on their Board of Advisors).

          10. JamesHRH

            I caught your tweets yesterday.

      2. awaldstein

        dunno fredX years later twitter is still about one to many with celebs as the doesn’t really enable or help anyone or any business build an audience. you can but they are not that helpful in structure or by education to do so.

        1. zackmansfield

          “doesn’t help anyone build an audience”???there are many examples of individuals who have built twitter audiences of 100s, then 1000s then beyond by becoming “known” via Twitter for their voice, ideas, etc. You see this specifically in particular verticals – like I have a buddy who is a doctor but a diehard Redskins fan. He tweets maniacally about them and now has 15k+ followers, a podcast, has been to media day, etc –…. Another friend is part of “financial twitter” where be opines on macro econonic trends/stocks etc – went from nothing to 21k followers, has been super valuable professionally.It’s analogous in some ways to etsy and the maker economy – the power of twitter is that *anyone* can be a maker of news, provider of opninions. And like all things, there is a long tail of noise and a fat tail of celebrity, but there is a big chunk in the middle that is the hard to surface but extremely valuable content – the key, IMO to this Twitter strategy is surfacing this content and making it easier to see. It’s not about hiring creators – the creators are there – people are already curating. But they need to figure out how to surface this content so people can curate (as we all naturally do) to our tastes. But you can’t curate what you can’t find, which is why this is such an important play for Twitter.

          1. awaldstein

            I am not saying that you can’t build an audience.I’m saying that Twitter itself is not very helpful to the small brand or the small company.They have been hostile to third party development and really poor at providing tools and education and clarity.How many people who use Twitter even know how the # works?That being said, personally I’m a huge fan and my networks there really deliver for me.But I’m a geek and a marketer both at my core. Most aren’t.

          2. LE

            I’m saying that Twitter itself is not very helpful to the small brand or the small company.Could this be because they see churn as bad in some way?

          3. awaldstein


        2. LE

          Isn’t this a bit like shelf space at the Supermarket [1] or getting on the top of a google search? There are only so many seats at the table not everyone could possibly win at this. People can only consume so much. If everyone could build an audience that audience would simply be sliced into more pieces with less consumption per broadcaster.[1] Why I would never want to be an artisan food product dependent on shelf space at Whole Foods. There are people with good creative ideas waking up every morning who will be there bright and early ready to take that shelf space from you with a better product. And people waiting to take their space as well. I am curious of your take on this since you are actually in this particular game.

          1. awaldstein

            i don’t think of it that way.this is not hard goods and space.this is platforms and attention and tools.the reason facebook is what it is, is because its easy for anyone to aggregate a community or following.not so with twitter.and they–not I–say they want to change that.

        3. Jess Bachman

          Yes.. the window for a peoples platform has closed. Infact, it was never really opened. There are a few isolated cases where an unknown has become a known, but thats just a needle in a tweetstack.This is twitters powerlaw, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

          1. awaldstein

            mostly agreethis is why i think this post is about recreating twitter as something new not just adding stuff.its being driven by market pressures and its anything but a no brainer.

      3. JamesHRH

        Twitter excels at is being the thin edge of the wedge. If they lose the 140 character limit, the company will be irrelevant in 5 years.The focus should be on helping people reach their current or potential followers, @andyswan:disqus and @disqus_Awy3Cl8ObF:disqus are bang on.The company’s biggest issue is that it is obsessed mostly with itself. It, and likely Jack, need to get over themselves, decide who their actual customer is, and get to work serving others (not their personal obsessions).Power users are not the customer. Lurkers are not the customer. Advertisers are not the customer. People who want direct access to their current or potential followers are the customer.

        1. RichardF


        2. Salt Shaker

          “The focus should be on helping people reach their current or potential followers.”Why can’t TWTR do that and more? They’re not growing fast enough and that’s because their product isn’t relevant to enough consumers. They’re cert not exploring news curation at the expense of their base biz. That would be crazy. They’re trying to expand their user base for growth. It’s additive. Oh, and advertisers most def are TWTR customers. Perhaps not primary, but def in the mix.

        3. bsoist

          If they lose the 140 character limit, the company will be irrelevant in 5 years.I think the character limit is critical. I don’t want to see it changed*.* I guess it could go a touch higher but I think the limit I would find acceptable is still so low (200?) that it’s worth keeping it at 140 exactly if only for nostalgia.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      Yup. And also for Internet content more generally.

    4. Jason

      Yes. The reason twitter works is that the whole thing is crowd sourced. Nobody needs another newspaper. Or wants one.

    5. jason wright

      “A media empire.”If users begin to see it as an empire this could become a problem. if twitter sees itself as an empire but tries to convey a different public facing identity to its users i see trouble ahead.

      1. creative group

        Well that would appear to be the greatest opportunity for the next platform to make Twitter into the next MySpace.

    6. JamesHRH

      +1000.You cannot be a raw feed and have a PoV.Those are two untenable market positions.

    7. William Mougayar

      Well, Twitter is slightly disorganized and daunting for the average mainstream user. If this helps that huge segment, then why not? I don’t think it should take away anything from your current usage.

      1. andyswan

        Once twitter starts picking the winners and losers based on editorial preference (also known as what sells ads), the rest of us lose by way of NOT being selected to appear in “today’s headlines” or whatever.I don’t blog at Huffington Post for a reason– I don’t want to be associated with their editorial decisions.Twitter shouldn’t be the brand. Each of its users, or curators should be. I understand the concept of “do both”… but I don’t think it works. Just look at the disaster that occurred at Reddit when a professional victim took the reins and started enforcing even “small” editorial policies.

        1. William Mougayar

          What if it’s a Discovery Tab, and does perturb your stream? They used to have that, and they took it away, so maybe that’s how it comes back.I don’t expect Twitter to curate my tweets or yours, unless our news is of global, national, local, or political significance or other really important stuff… Unless they have a “witt” section where I fully expect to see your prominence 😉

          1. andyswan

            I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’m saying Drudge already does curation better. Arianna too. For what Twitter is amazing at in terms of news, IT already does it better (via RTs)Maybe they throw a page up showing what’s being RTed but I see that as algorithmic, not human-curated.My point is that Twitter SHOULD be focused on making you and me bigger and better and richer.If that was their mission, I’d put everything I had into my twitter presence and maybe $TWTR stock. As it stands today, it seems more like their mission is to put ads for WSJ subscriptions under my tweet. Not inspiring.

          2. William Mougayar

            Got it. So, you want them to not just amplify existing media stories, but also the little gals & guys.But there are also tons of other little but significant stories that aren’t heard (that HuffPo/Drudge don’t get to) that Twitter can find & expose that might be more important than my story or yours. Both at the local level & international. Maybe they will surface all that.Summing this down – there is no doubt the world’s news is already on Twitter. The issue is in finding it quickly without spending lots of time fetching it.

        2. LE

          Just look at the disaster that occurred at Reddit when a professional victimYeah. Talk about “the devil you know”. [1][1] One day your daughter will grow up and bring someone home to meet you. And I have to tell you that if that person appears to be defective in some way you need to do everything in your power to make the relationship end. Full stop. Things are variable and random enough w/o trying to navigate something that has already shown signs of defects. Of course if you do your job now you won’t have this issue because she will already be per-programmed to know what to avoid.

          1. andyswan

            I *think* we are doing a pretty good job of teaching our kids that weakness is not a virtue. They get it crammed down their throats in every movie/song/etc. Strength is a virtue, pity is an awful emotion and helping others isn’t about making them FEEL better it’s about making them be better. I have nightmares about either one of them bringing home one of these tumblr types lol

    8. bsoist

      I agree with your first two sentences 100%!!I HATE the idea of a “media empire” if it means promoted tweets during halftime, etc. ( unless I subscribe, I guess ), BUT I think I like that better than Twitter News Company.

      1. andyswan

        I meant the opposite… move away from ads. Ads suck and are what is the driving force behind this conversation.If Aaron Rodgers wants to charge users $5/season to get his tweet at halftime, Twitter should be more than happy to enable that and take a buck.

        1. bsoist

          Understood. I don’t like the idea of users charging for tweets, but it gives the user the choice, so it makes sense for Twitter – I agree.

    9. LE

      How in the world does Disney not curate? They greenlight projects that they perceive have value and will make them money. Perhaps youtube is a closer example but even they curate.Excellent PBS about Walt Disney:

      1. andyswan

        Disney does curate. Big time.When I was referring to Disney I was really talking about creating channels and shows and personalities and stars. Building content creators, giving them distribution, cross-selling them within your global platform.It might not be the best analogy but maybe because no one has done it yet in user-generated. Youtube is definitely close.

        1. LE

          Well then I am glad that I gave you this chance to clarify.

          1. andyswan

            It’s been a clunky analogy in my mind for quite a while.I really love Twitter the product. I love their data products… they drive our business and help us create tremendous value. I redirect my domain to my twitter feed.It sucks to feel like you’re more committed to something than it is to you. I feel like that MIGHT be changing… but you never know on a rudderless shipA

          2. LE

            It sucks to feel like you’re more committed to something than it is to you.Coming from you that’s a surprising statement. People will shit on you if they have to. Try being raised by someone who went through the death camps and saw what “friends” are capable of. And businesses and corporations have no close connection so they of course will do anything and anything. (Apple, Google having loads of money but killing products left and right..)

          3. andyswan

            Of course. I don’t think Twitter is in it for my best interests… I just think they should consider it instead of being in it for their advertiser’s best interests.Yes, my reasons for this are selfish, but I also genuinely believe that Twitter would have a better long-term business if it did so.

          4. LE

            Sounds like (see my reply to Fred who replied to Anne with “preposterous”) that twitter needs to issue some user base calming statements then. (Grab attached.)…

    10. Stephen Bradley

      Andy, I read your post after posting my own, which in hindsight might have been better placed as a reply here. We’re completely in sync and I have 2 years experience with exactly what you’re describing. I hope you will take a look at the post – would love your thoughts.

  7. Bruce Warila

    Some people like to listen to the news. Some people like to watch the news. Some people like to read the news. Some people like to Twitter the news (Fred). I am a reader (WSJ, Boston Globe, this blog, etc.). I have tried Twitter for news. I know how to curate. I just can’t get comfortable with the [news] chunk stream style fo Twitter. Give me different interfaces for daily diving, and I might feel otherwise.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Give me different interfaces for daily diving, and I might feel otherwise. Yup!In…see dichotomy between static and new interests and For such new interests, there would be some UI/UX concerns. etc.!

  8. sigmaalgebra

    Twitter’s project for discovery and curation should let them get more eyeballs.Will that project yield a good, general approach to discovery and curation for all Twitter content for all Twitter users? Likely not. Why? First reason, and there are more, with just human curation being general would be too much work for the humans curators.> It must have a voice, an agenda, an attitude, and a soul.Naw, not really: Just use, say, the nice, well considered criteria Hacker News has articulated on what’s worth posting on Hacker News.For discovery, recommendation, curation, notification, subscription on Twitter in general, really the Twitter functionality Fred is using, likely based on what Twitter users have lots of followers, that is, the follower graph, will likely be better than the new human, journalist, curated effort. Of course, then, the functionality can’t respond to great, new Twitter content by some one new Twitter user with, so far, next to nothing in the follower graph.Fundamentally, that Twitter follower graph is based on what humans see reading human produced content, and the Twitter functionality Fred is using, then, is also fundamentally based on humans reading. Good. Tough otherwise. So, use names of Twitter users and the graph to do the discovery, recommendation, …, etc.Stands to work well enough for Twitter. For other Internet content? Mostly, no, and need other approaches.Exploiting a follower graph: Hmm, Disqus has a follower graph and, thus, might consider exploiting their graph also.Gee, some people regard Internet content discovery, recommendation, curation, notification, and subscription as important functionality! How ’bout that!How the heck to do that, for so much Internet content, for so many interests, from so many people? Hmm …!Notice: What Fred has set up on Twitter is, say, static for Fred. So, what Fred gets back from that Twitter functionality is particular to that static set up (state).Hmm …. Typically, however, search is not static in that sense; that is, on some one day Fred may be interested in some Twitter content for a new interest of Fred’s or for someone else. So, it would be better if that functionality to support search for such new interests could also be used for discovery, recommendation, ….For such new interests, there would be some UI/UX concerns.Of course, there should be potential to use all that data, on the graph, the functionality, etc. in ad targeting. Generally using such data for ad targeting is much easier than using it for search, discovery, recommendation, ….

  9. pointsnfigures

    I like and agree with you wrote about how you get value from Twitter. Agree and that’s why I am on Twitter. Twitter for breaking news is amazing. Combined with Periscope, it could turn into a real force. It could put local news television stations out of business, or render them relatively useless (like newspapers).Twitter+Periscope could allow for individuals that weren’t designated by curated news operations to become their own news operation-and build a brand around themselves.Twitter’s news, or editorial department will probably become a liberal rag. Journalists on the whole are very liberal. That will allow room for competition to emerge.

  10. Salt Shaker

    Project Lightning seems like the right next step for TWTR. Delivering high quality, curated news will give the brand purpose and a stronger identity. Not sure its editorial needs to be biased, though. Seems like one of the biggest problems w/ journalism today is it’s too biased, contributing to a polarized nation and gov’t dysfunction (e.g., perpetual on-air rhetoric). Why not an editorial strat that reflects “the voice of the people,” sans a one-sided agenda, that delivers news and opinion w/ diverse viewpoints.

    1. awaldstein

      How can you curate without bias?Twitter will become this bias. They are really poor marketers who don’t know how to speak to consumers.They are going to have to learn to succeed.

      1. Salt Shaker

        TWTR lacks an identity. Most don’t know what it is, let alone how it can be beneficial to them. IMO, curated news provides the biz w/ broader relevancy and a clearer, meaningful positioning. Unbiased curation means providing editorial balance w/ diverging points of view. Endorsement or disdain will come from platform users, not from an editorial board. I think the content should be educational, as well as provocative (troll alert). Curated news is stimulus to drive commentary, sharing and engagement, which is where the biz is seriously lacking (e.g., slow/low growth and MAU’s). Although news content is pervasive–and seemingly everywhere–there’s an inherent point of diff to the TWTR platform and how/when content is accessed.

        1. JamesHRH

          Twitter should not have an identity.Its a platform.Or, a town square.Form follows function.The internet does not have an identity.

          1. Salt Shaker

            TWTR needs to reinvent itself. It’s stagnant. It’s hit a hard wall. It’s evolving from a platform, as it needs to do for growth.

  11. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Provocative.That’s what opinions are.If Twitter could publish a breaking news feed that balances two columns of pro and con it would be great for getting a summary.Take a fake headline ” X saves the poor in africa by sending second hand clothes that can be repurposed”Pro: ” Resorces are being repurposed and *first world people* feel “less bad about buying”etc …Cons: ” Mrs X was a seamstress in Zimbabwe – she could maintain her own sewing machine and repurpose cloth into clothes – now she is out of work because of the commoditisation of second hand rags”For my money *anything* that stimulates debate can support better understanding and appreciation of divergent perspectives.So a) I hope twitter does express editorial opinion (and it should be clear it is theirs)b) I hope twitter actively encourages opposition to its views !c) They could consider offering guest curation slots which could be voted on for qualtiy so that the best opposition curator is “elected by the Twitterverse” as a temporary proponent of a view.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      >b) I hope twitter actively encourages opposition to its views !That reminded me of this, which I’ve seen quoted around:”I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”…

  12. Salt Shaker

    Although perhaps a long shot, the trades are reporting that GE’s Beth Comstock is in the hunt to become the next TWTR CEO. She’s a pretty seasoned marketer, but she lacks journalism and/or editorial experience, which I think is needed as the company redefines itself, in part, as a news platform. Moreover, GE is hardly a fast paced, nimble company, so not sure how transferable her skill set would be. Hope Dorsey stays on…I’m cautiously optimistic about the direction TWTR is exploring.

  13. JimHirshfield

    Everyone wants to curate the news for me. Who’s gonna curate the curators?

    1. Salt Shaker

      That’s exactly why you need a good/strong EIC.

    2. Vasudev Ram

      Good one.Age old issue, from Roman times or earlier:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Upvote for use of a dead language.

  14. jason wright

    the curators should first each dust off their copy of Manufacturing Consent by Noam C (and if they haven’t got a copy then they should immediately go and get one) to remind themselves that behaving like they run a newspaper is the one thing they must not do. The New York Times gets a withering critique by the way. Times change, and also not.they should definitely completely ignore the stock price as the metric of their success at curating.

  15. jason wright

    so in summary twitter is like life itself. the maxim ‘you get out what you put in’ comes to mind.

  16. creative group

    Appears some would like Twitter to become a Skeleton of Reddit.If Twitter is not an integral part of promoting your business model how does an adult who generates income find time for the Twitter past time? (Reread twice before responding)After reading the information in our space the extra of this blog and flipboard there is only time to run the business. There has to be independently wealthy people or not with tons of time on their hands for all the platforms presented that others are heavily invested.

    1. Salt Shaker

      Many secondary and tertiary biz that are ad rev dependent are gonna shrivel up and die. The market isn’t robust enough to serve the many. Size matters. Media dollars will continue to flow predominantly to biz w/ high MAU’s, the rest will grapple for scraps.

  17. jason wright

    on guest posts and the like.what happens if you get knocked down by a bicycle courier when crossing the mean streets of NYC one day and are out of action for a while? do you have a plan in place for AVC to continue in some form while you recuperate? does your wife or a USV partner have access to this blog to arrange things?

  18. Sam Frentzel-Beyme

    The challenge for Twitter is that it’s a poet business in a prose world.I could see a successful news-based Twitter only if it redefined what news means. What if the goal of Twitter was to raise the level of actual understanding? I know this a tricky can of worms. But let’s suspend hole poking for a second.What if sequential Tweets were a form of education where people could then click “Understood”? What if the Twitter curation team’s responsibility was not just curating, but clarifying? What if we saw Twitter as teachers/educators?What if Twitter were able help raise the global dialogue above what seems like petty squabbling? This would be a world I think worth tweeting about.

    1. JamesHRH

      The problem is that they write prose but want to be poets.

  19. Steve_Dodd

    I agree with Fred and Jay. I think this is a really interesting idea that could significantly differentiate Twitter from other channels. The beauty of Twitter is that it is not biased and you can seek any opinion about any topic you want. The problem is, finding them and unless you are very focused in managing followers, hashtags etc. it becomes a daunting task and most users eventually just give up.A lot of the discussion here regarding “curation” is more about “opinion” than categorization. If Twitter curates the categories and topics and pulls them together in an unbiased way, this makes a lot of sense to me. Personally, I do not want another algorithm or editorial approach telling me what to read (think) based on its own biases. I want an algorithm that pulls together all topics and opinions so I can reach my own conclusions. I’m sure there are other services out there that kinda do this but none have the “crowd sharing” base that Twitter does to discover everything out there.However, to do this effectively Twitter will have to dig into the links and their analyze content, not just base categorization conclusions on the Tweet itself. There are brighter minds than mine that can figure this out but if they do, this could easily be the most important strategy Twitter has ever adopted.And, if Twitter does this, I believe its monetization opportunities increase exponentially as well.

    1. William Mougayar

      Almost exactly what I said too, Steve. +1

      1. Steve_Dodd

        Thanks William! Great to hear from you. We’ve both kinda been there before with this one. Maybe now’s the time!!!! Twitter certainly has the user attention to pull it off and the corporate hunger (need) to do something globally disruptive.

        1. William Mougayar

          Agreed. Yes.

  20. Diego Ventura

    I think they should also provide the data behind what is being curated through the API. This would allow others business to act as counterparts. In theory other business could thrive as the “what Twitter is not showing you” class. In spite of the irony of working over their API. Great post, and amazing vision for the future of Twitter.

  21. Tom Labus

    What Twitter needs most is time. Time to find their voice and stride but will the Market give them that time is key.

    1. JamesHRH

      Sorry Tom, but that is cringe worthy.They have had tons of time.They just don’t want to face facts.They want to be something they are not.Time to grow up.

      1. Tom Labus

        What does growing up entail? Maybe that’s their routeI didn’t think there was any time limit in finding the right way for your company

  22. JLM

    .Isn’t Twitter an echo chamber in which we take a seat in the middle and listen to different voices bouncing off the walls, ceiling, and floor?I am not certain there is a Twitter “voice” as such.Fred has a voice and if one were to hear that voice they would pick up his tone, inflection, and views.But the notion of Twitter having a voice seems inconsistent with the structural framework.As to the advisability of having a voice, there is much to be said for reading and understanding what persons on the other side of our own confirmation biases think. That is the fundamental basis of acquiring intelligence — not to know what “we” think but to know what others think.When ideas wrestle, better ideas are the result.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…Limited commentary day, no?

    1. LaVonne Reimer

      A new vision of the Fairness Doctrine perhaps? Maybe organically emerging from the community. I don’t see the “regular” media, post Fairness Doctrine, setting the stage for wrestling ideas.

      1. JLM

        .The sense of fairness is fine but I decry its being raised to a formal “doctrine” as it is the ebb and flow of the tides that clears heads.One would hope that readership — the market — would pick winners and losers.I could easily be persuaded otherwise.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  23. RichardF

    Twitter doesn’t need a voice. They just need to make it more non techie friendly.The solution is actually really really simple.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      In fact, Twitter _is_ a voice – the voice of millions (a few hundred million). Why does a voice need a voice?

  24. Richard

    Seems like Twitter could get 95% of the curation it needs via an algorithm, human curation seems, financially, unsustainable. How many of these curators will Twitter need? How many subjects will Twitter decide the world into? What approach will they take? Who will the curators follow? What Yale grad would give up their voice as a journalist and take on such a position of picking the best tweets of the day in a particular areas?

  25. craigunger

    Absolutely right. Check out, with hundreds of Twitter feeds curated automatically by me, using Opentopic.

  26. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Damn this is interesting – shame I have to get on a plane !

  27. William Mougayar

    I agree with Fred & Jay that this would be an “augmentation” of the current Twitter we know. This new curation will help organize and expose more news items that currently get buried or go unnoticed, an that’s a good thing. It should draw more new users that will finally understand Twitter, and will probably engage with it too.As to the “soul” question, I would posit that Twitter will need to find its soul as it curates. It may not nail it from day1, but the added human light touch will help put some order and context in anotherwise noisy stream of content. It might result in something like Techmeme meets Google news, with more real time, more diversity, more global, perhaps some Buzzfeed, perkiness and certainly that will appeal to a broader audience.So, yes. I believe that Twitter can be that truthful, open, and transparent world’s newspaper. More than it is, today.

    1. awaldstein

      We talk of them as if they are a startup seaching for identity. Nothing could be further from the truth.They are a force looking for a business model that scales in my opinion.And–people do build umbrella brands on top of curated markets (Etsy) and on top of communities (Wattpad) but only the most self conscious can do this. Most fail.I don’t have any indication that Twitter, truly a marketing neonate at best, can do this.

      1. William Mougayar

        They need to appeal to a broader audience. They know it. What they have is the inventory for the world’s news, and then some. The way I see it is if they surface that news better, improve the onboarding experience and dumb the product down a bit for those that want that, then that’s a good thing.

        1. awaldstein

          As in rebuild everything except the core capabilities ;)They have all the resources in the world and they just don’t know how to communicate a broader audience.I love them regardless but they are what they are.

          1. William Mougayar

            Yep. As you said, they aren’t a startup. Their slowness puzzles me a bit. I’m willing to bet there were diverging voices inside the company. A lack of current leadership certainly doesn’t help.

          2. awaldstein

            haven’t they since the beginning had leadership issues and changes?i’m not dinging them as honestly i use it all the time.but they are a public company, not a startup. who can we think of beside microsoft who forever gets a large percentage of their stuff wrong and copies everyone?emotionally, i don’t want that to be twitter.

      2. Vasudev Ram

        Not clear what you mean by “only the most self conscious can do this”.

        1. awaldstein

          Does Twitter truly know what they are about as a company.It’s hard enough to build a single function crisp and clear brand. It’s really challenging to build an umbrella brand.You really need to understand your core, what you are about to pull this off. Otherwise you have no criteria for decisions and it becomes a mess.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            Got it, thanks.

    2. Steve_Dodd

      William, I feel “augmentation” is an understatement. The best way to encourage discussion it to provide access to focused information. By doing this, Twitter would not only become the focused access point but it would generate far more discussion and natural engagement on the platform. Twitter has long been defined as an “Echo Chamber”. This approach would help make it far more relevant to the consumers of the “Echo” than just those generating it.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        >Twitter has long been defined as an “Echo Chamber”.As has much of Silicon Valley. Just sayin’ …

  28. bsoist

    If I were a stockholder, I might have a different opinion, but as a user…I was an early adopter of Twitter and I loved it – until the non-geeks arrived.I eventually came back to the faith and have found real value in it much like Fred described – but it takes some work.I want to hear from users – not from Twitter.If new users can’t figure out how Twitter works, so what.

  29. laurie kalmanson

    curated channels on twitter, yes; expanding capabilities for those, yesvoice of twitter as twitter; mehAMC, HBO, Showtime — the “cable” companies producing great content curate when they develop/buy showsi say that as a fan of twitter, where the user generated content ranges from silly to awesome, where nasa has been so smart about giving voices to the mars rovers, and where breaking news happens so quickly

  30. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I keep meaning to share a little tool I made to make it easier for me to keep track of and amplify my Twitter ‘tribes’. @fredwilson:disqus I made one for USV: click the blue button to see that person’s tweets from the last 24 hours *only*. If someone hasn’t tweeted in the last 24 hours, they don’t even show up in the list. I use it to keep track of and amplify a couple of different tribes of mine (like the Danger Ladies). Happy to make one for anyone who asks (right now I have to manually make groups).I learned about Project Lightening before Jay’s post… on Twitter 🙂 My friend, Amy Vernon, was live tweeting from a journalism event where a TWTR exec announced the project and discussed it with the group.A lot of people in that group said, “Before you curate, could you please fix Tweetdeck?” Tweetdeck does seem like an opportunity they’re “missing.” I use it.I don’t have an opinion about Project Lightening. I don’t know what went into the decision. My reflex, as a long time user, is “meh.” (I’m often wrong about that stuff, though.) I guess they must feel they’ve captured the early adopter and power user market and that the only way to grow now is to start attracting the laggards.The devil will be in the details, no?I’d like to see Twitter be really smart about this curation thing and bring in guest curators that aren’t so obvious (aka celebrities). Twitter can use Twitter to I.D. the “underground” stars and let them curate. That would be super interesting to me.My 73 year old mom just got on Twitter (at my urging). She said to me, “I don’t really want to follow anyone in particular. I just want to be able to send in my opinion when they say, ‘Tweet to hashtag blah blah’ on CNN.” Ha!

  31. @billg

    “Twitter is a news company. It is where people go to make and break news.”Well said. And true. It functions as the central nervous system for the world: when an issue arises on the planet, Twitter ‘feels’ it first.I hope it continues along this course.

  32. Jay Rosen

    Fred: Thanks for doing this!I wanted to add something on “should Twitter itself have a voice?” The reason this comes up is because of Project Lightning. If Twitter is just a platform, or a news delivery and discovery device, then it doesn’t need a voice or an editorial idea. As many here have said, it’s better not to have one.But when Twitter starts curating best-of streams it is by definition choosing, selecting, quoting, highlighting. How is this to be done? What priorities should go into it. That’s a hard question but it can be made to sound easy. “Pick the best stuff.” “Don’t show bias.” “Fair and balanced.” “Hire professionals who know how to do this.” None of those statements actually say anything about the problem.My own view is that there is no way to do curation without an editorial approach, whether we call it a voice, a Point of View, “priorities” or even “agenda,” a word Fred uses. To adopt viewlessness as the approach — which, again sounds good to a lot of people because it’s a safe answer — doesn’t achieve what those people want. You don’t get unbiased selections you get unconscious bias, or herd judgment, or mediocrity because one way to show you don’t have a “tilt” is do what everyone else is doing.I agree that we wouldn’t want a Twitter whose curation product was just a reflection of the world view of liberal columnists. But we also wouldn’t want a curation product where the selectors believe they are being somehow “objective.”That’s why I wrote, “If I were a VC, a shareholder or an employee with a big stake in Twitter getting this right, I would be slightly concerned if the choice is simply to import consensus practice and ‘apply’ it to make Lightning happen.”I agree with Fred: “I hope Twitter doesn’t try to be ‘fair and balanced’ also known as boring. I hope they have an agenda or ideally multiple agendas and I hope they are transparent about them.”

    1. Cam MacRae

      I think Twitter would be better served by providing a platform for 3rd parties to take an editorial approach and all that entails, than to take one themselves. Otherwise Twitter the platform (as it exists today) will forever bear the taint of their voice/pov/priorties/agenda.

      1. Jay Rosen

        Okay, Cam: then I take it you disagree with Project Lightning and you don’t think Twitter should become an editorial company. But then you still have the problems with discovery and new users that Lightning was supposed to address.This is why I think an important threshold has been reached with the curation product.

        1. Cam MacRae

          No, I don’t entirely disagree with Project Lightning: I agree for the purposes of discovery that Twitter needs to provide “a brand-new way to look at tweets”. But I think it is essential to the health of the platform that Twitter’s involvement in Lightning ends with providing the infrastructure for others to develop and disseminate an editorial voice.

          1. Jay Rosen

            Gotcha, thanks.

        2. LE

          and you don’t think Twitter should become an editorial company.Twitter is becoming an editorial company because as a business they need to in order to rescue an idea that doesn’t have enough mass appeal and apparently has non correctable barriers to entry. It is no more than that. Necessity is the mother of change. It doesn’t matter at all what the current base of users think. Nobody messes with a formula that works. [1]I don’t use twitter. Maybe as a news product it will have value for me now. That is what it’s all about making it a profitable (or a more profitable) business.[1] The WSJ is now practically a general interest newspaper with a business slant. Not the way it was when I graduated from college. When it didn’t have pictures, only stipple drawings. It needed to do that to evolve and most importantly survive. Nobody messes with a formula that works in business (they unfortunately become complacent and take it to their grave many times).

    2. LE

      I agree with Fred: “I hope Twitter doesn’t try to be ‘fair and balanced’ also known as boring. I hope they have an agenda or ideally multiple agendas and I hope they are transparent about them.”I guess it matters the degree to which something is fair and balanced. It’s really a scale, right? You have the NYT which generally appears to be fair and balanced but with a clear liberal bias. You have the WSJ which attempts to be fair and balanced but is probably less fair and balanced than the NYT. Then you have, say, Fox News which is way further down on the scale or perhaps MSNBC. All are “fair and balanced” but the degree to which they are differentiates them. At least this is my perception as a viewer or reader. (Then we can talk about the NY Post vs. NY Daily news as well.) This is all analog. We aren’t talking about abortion or pregnancy (either you are or you aren’t fair and balanced is my point).What does this all mean anyway? It’s not about news, it’s about infotainment. People don’t need news they want to be entertained by news. [1][1] Did you see the coverage of the Pope leaving Philadelphia on CNN and MSNBC? How in the world is the coverage of that anything but entertainment?

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I think this is a little bit like, “Should Apple make a phone?” was. It’s all in how it’s executed.Twitter should recruit Snowden right now to guest curate for a month. Get leaders from the LGBT community, the Black Lives Matter movement, from women in gaming, etc. This kind of curation would truly add value and be exciting.If they don’t differentiate their curation through the lens of what is already their “voice” (the outsider, the upstart, the revolutionary) it’ll just be adding to the echo chamber and won’t serve its purpose.Long tail. They’re still a long tail entity and should play to that strength.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        BTW, it was fun to see you asking Fred for this on Twitter and then watch it come to fruition here today. It’s all about that backstage-pass-to-life feeling.

        1. Jay Rosen

          Thanks, Kirsten!

    4. William Mougayar

      Indeed, inside the Twitter belly lies a tremendous global-to-local diversity that is unparalleled, as raw inventory.Trick will be in exposing this vast content mosaic in ways that are simple enough for users to see the patterns they choose to associate with.I don’t think “fair and balanced” is the right analogy. I hope they are “inclusive and expansive”, and they let a thousand voices bloom, and expose several gardens in the process.Having a soul means being sensitive to multiple voices.

  33. jason wright

    ‘content’ seems like the wrong word going forward. that’s what traditional publishing produced and then pushed out for consumption. it limits our view of what is happening today on platforms like twitter.’curate’ is another one i’m not happy with.

  34. jason wright

    perhaps the architecture of twitter can be adapted to allow users to ‘cluster’ around themes and ‘collectively curate’. having designated twitter staffers curating from within the ‘newsroom’ seems contradictory to the open network structure of the medium.

  35. LE

    From Jay:He was thrilled by the police scanner, and still remembers its staccato transmissions. “They were reporting constantly, and they’re reporting three things usually. No. 1, where they are. No. 2, where they’re going. And, No. 3, what they’re doing. So, for an ambulance in St. Louis: ‘I’m at Fifth and Broadway, I’m going to St. John’s Mercy, patient in cardiac arrest.’ ”I sometimes listen to air traffic control. Maybe if I was in NYC I’d listen to police radio. Where I am not enough happens and besides it is very distracting. I wonder if Jack would have listened to police radio post internet as a kid. I doubt it. Many things kids did for fun back in the day was because there was nothing better to do. That’s obvious. Nobody collects stamps anymore, right? Or has train collections in the basement.The other day when the Pope left the country I decided to turn on on my iphone and listen to the PHL tower chatter. I heard “shepard one” take off among very little tower activity. After “shepard one” took off I heard “airforce two” get clearance. I didn’t even know Biden was at PHL. [1] After Biden got clearance and took off all hell broke loose as all of the planes backed up were stacked and ready to launch. Was very interesting to listen to. But the truth is in no way would I have time to do that everyday or on most days. And the only reason I did it was I was exercising at the time and I thought it would be cool to hear it.[1] Flying back to DC or DE by helicopter?

  36. LE

    I also love Jay’s point about Jack’s obsession with raw and real-time news, like police scanners, which provided the formative idea for Twitter. I would love to see Twitter do a channel for that kind of stuff. The more real-time the better. A news product should be obsessed with the news and the more obsessive the better.To my point about they should consider offering audio with this. Then the recorded streams can be made available on soundcloud.

  37. kirklove

    I’d copy the YouTube playbook. It would work on Twitter.

    1. andyswan

      YouTube is the better analogy than what I used.

  38. Salt Shaker

    The vast majority of TWTR users have less than 100 followers. There are over 90 million TWTR accounts with zero followers. Readers of Fred’s blog may see the value and utility of TWTR, but they’re more outliers than not. Yeah, TWTR certainly could do more to enhance its value prop among small biz, but more than likely that’s a resource allocation issue. It’s too fragmented a biz to address everyone’s needs. TWTR’s model needs to be tweaked for growth. Staying the course is not an option. They need to grow the base and engage users. So news curation moves TWTR away from being a pure platform. BFD. If they’re smart they’ll do it in a way that doesn’t bastardize or alienate core users. Way too much is being made of this initiative.

  39. theschnaz

    I’m a big Twitter fan and have put a lot of time into curating who I follow. I’m also a big Rdio/Spotify fan and have put a lot of time into that…But, services like Songza (and Spotify more so now that they show many playlists upfront) have a great way to onboard people with very little input needed. Everyone has interests, but not everyone is going to put in a lot of time to follow specific people (or bands).Interested in the upcoming election? Follow this group. Republicans only? Here’s a group for you. Interested in breaking country music? Follow that group.Twitter users can make groups, but maybe this is a good place for an editor’s touch. (Think of user created playlists vs playlists created and frequently updated by experts.)This would be nice for existing users too… who to to follow is cool, what to follow would be a great addition.

    1. Stephen Voris

      Should probably be careful about creating – or perpetuating – echo chambers, though. Sorta defeats the point.

      1. theschnaz

        I think the risk of that is very low. For new users, it’s important they follow something (people, lists, ideas, etc.) ASAP to get value.Watch people use Songza for the first time. They simply select some playlist that fits their mood and in 3 seconds, they’re getting value.Compare that with iTunes or something similar. (Let’s not even talk about video…I haven’t signed up for IG in a while, but the same thing applies there. Like art? Here’s a list. Landscapes? List. Ships, sports, food? List, list, list.

        1. Stephen Voris

          As you might have guessed, I think the risk is higher. Surrounding yourself with only music you like is fine. Surrounding yourself with only food you like is fine. Surrounding yourself with only ideas you like is a disaster waiting to happen.

  40. Pete Griffiths

    Twitter has always been too much noise, not enough signal for me. Increasing signal to noise has been too much work for too little reward, I have other more efficient avenues to get the content I need. I’m not optimistic that this curation approach will work but fingers crossed.

  41. Matt A. Myers

    Will Twitter feature paid-curated news or keep a balanced editorial to their work? If it’s a highest-bidder gets eyeballs, even if there’s better opinions and thoughts being tweeted — to me that’s where the soul gets lost, and as I always say business is soulless — the people in it perhaps not.

  42. Marcosardi

    From a software perspective, Twitter is a server company with little skills on the client side. So Twitter is trying to find solutions on the server side. Enabling users requires client side skills. Twitter should provide client side tools to allow power users to curate content and offer channels to the rest of the world.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Here, here!Pun intended.

  43. Stephen Bradley

    This is a topic I know a lot about. I have been building an independent “Project Lightening” for 2 years.Our “Project Lightening” is not integrated with Twitter’s core user experience, which is where it should be, and for that reason alone it will probably fail as a business model. But we have had to face, understand and address all these issues and more for 2 years now.The goal of OUR “Project Lightening” was to create not one editorial voice but many. As many potential voices as Twitter has users, in fact. We do believe that professional curation has an important and valuable place – but that’s not what gets us excited. What has juiced and fueled us for the past 2 years has been the idea that everyone should have that voice and ability… and have it near effortlessly, and to whatever degree they want to take it.I do NOT agree that “Twitter equips its partners and users with good curation tools.” I believe the exact opposite of this – almost to the point of incredulity. I believe Twitter has completely missed the boat to date on curation. I believe the timeline as the core, and really only to this point, delivery vehicle is an absolutely miserable tour guide for discovering and accessing the content we really want. Just like music content became overwhelming before companies like Pandora came along to help us navigate it, social content – Tweets in particular – has become overwhelming, and at the very same time that the content itself is the best it has ever been. Without good curation, we miss the vast majority of it.One of the most important elements missing from Twitter is the lack of community it engenders. Twitter forces hierarchical relationships, which do not foster community (compare, for example, the kind of community interaction generated by Reddit). Curation solves this puzzle quickly – especially if the curation is done by the community is a great example of hierarchical curation that effectively generates community interaction. But look how many years and miles Fred has had to put in to get it there.User/community-driven curation can build community engagement in a flash comparatively. This is something Twitter has put no attention to (it would appear), and even with its own Project Lightening, the focus is not on enablement, rather on editorial.At least not yet.

    1. andyswan

      totally agree. I’m a huge huge fan of Twitter and I believe they WILL do something awesome to empower us… but I fear that their focus on next quarter’s ad sales could be harmful.

      1. Stephen Bradley

        They are slaves to the Street now… though I think we could both argue this is a way to begin fixing that. Thanks, Andy.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I’ve never understood why they don’t make more hay out of Lists. Lists are the Twitter power tool in my book.

      1. Stephen Bradley

        Lists and collections, in particular. Agree with you – especially where one can feed the other. I should be able to have follow-lists, user or auto-generated, for any topic, event or interest I have, vs. having to use the same list of followers for all of my interests.

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Is your project AuthorBee? I built something similar a couple of years ago. We could compare scars 😉

      1. Stephen Bradley

        Yes, lets! Feel free to ping me @StephenTBradley

  44. Bernard Desarnauts

    Yes to Fred’s first point, Twitter is really all about real-time (and therefore news and moments). Now I don’t personally believe that the vast majority of consumers care about breaking news outside of monumental events.News/real time junkies/addict are a minority segment of the market and thats OK. Most folks didn’t buy the daily Newspaper for the “real-time” nature of the news.

  45. Kirsten Lambertsen

    It is positively amazing to see all the different ways people define Twitter. It is so many different things to different people. And everyone feels *their* Twitter is The Twitter.It might be a news company, but it’s one whose users feel an enormous amount of ownership. I think anything that feels like an erosion of that ownership is going to be painful (Reddit). Anything that feels like an expansion of it will be embraced.This is a really fascinating topic, and I wish I had access to all the data that went into the decision.

  46. Michael Robinson

    Twitter has struggled to grow its user base, but I’ve always felt that was the wrong metric. The reach and influence of Twitter goes way beyond the logged in users — you can’t watch the news or a sports game without hearing a reference to a Tweet. Twitter will always have more of these casual/passive users than active (or even registered) users. The new home page and Project Lightning are just ways to capture (and measure) some of this audience, on their platform. May not be the silver bullet, but is a step in the right direction. At the least, changing the metric conversation should help the Twitter stock.

  47. JaredMermey

    The news aspect as a standalone (i.e., Lightning without existing Twitter) feels like Business Insider.”I hope Twitter doesn’t try to be “fair and balanced” also known as boring. I hope they have an agenda or ideally multiple agendas and I hope they are transparent about them.”

  48. Rick Mason

    I’ve often had the conversation with people who don’t get Twitter. I didn’t understand it for the first year. They key to success is building a curated feed.So with all their resources why doesn’t Twitter help people get a start? I don’t mean a list of celebrities to follow. Ask people broadly what they’re interested in such as sports, politics, the grocery business or whatever. Then drill down as to what teams, parties or regions. Then and only then give them a starter feed of people to follow.Of course that means that Twitter’s people hand curate hundreds of suggested lists. I’ve done this manually for a few friends and the difference is dramatic. I am just unable to see why Twitter doesn’t see this as it is so obvious. Instead they’re thinking about expanding beyond 140 characters which would be suicide for the platform.

  49. aaronbbrown

    The problem is these people don’t understand what Twitter is.[…how Twitter the company curates Twitter the product will be important. It must have a voice, an agenda, an attitude, and a soul.]The problem is, Twitter the company, and Twitter the product, are the reason why Twitter has lost its soul, its faith in itself.Washed away, maybe it’s time to try to get it back?Take back your soul Twitter. :)PS Twitter is more than a product and more than a company, Twitter is people. And people are what social media is all about. You forget that, you fail in social media.Don’t fail in social media Twitter, I need you. Like the flower needs the rain, you know I need you. 🙂

  50. aaronbbrown

    Is Twitter going to incorporate Periscope into its system, so you can stream it on Twitter? That integration makes business sense. *Sarcasm* :}But seriously, that needs to happen.

  51. Peace Out Anon

    It’s true that fair and balanced is boring. In fact, the more extreme your views are, the more interesting you are. And that’s a terrible tragedy:



  53. Telborn Smith

    All these talk about Twitter makes me crazy mad. Isn’t that funny to discuss how a 140 characters can make billions of dollars in revenue. It is all silly and rubbish to me.

    1. Stephen Voris

      It’s not the characters being typed that matter, it’s the characters doing the typing. Roll three hundred million dice (read: people) and some are bound to come up sixes (read: spend money on what you’re offering).

      1. Telborn Smith

        even if it were the characters, i see no big difference. all that you end up conveying is in just 140 char. It might bring in a few hundred dollars of extra sales but given the life of an average tweet reduced to a few seconds, i doubt any revenue model built around that will not stick long.twitter is a company that is sinking and no revenue model can keep it afloat

  54. Prokofy

    I don’t know why you gave Jay Rosen such a loud bully pulpit for his ideological platform — I suppose it’s because your politics are close to his in some ways. But Jay is only peddling his ideological wares here and expressing qualms that Twitter — which has pretty much been in his ideological niche on the left with very definitive views about who they want for president, whether they want to make peace with Iran, and whether they careJay is old-school hard left with a great animosity toward capitalism, corporations, rich people etc and strongly believes in the do-gooder mission of media — he is only content to leave media alone if it peddles his own world view. Jay is not a journalist — by his own admission, he only spent a very brief time working for a newspaper in Buffalo or something. Jay really does not know anything about the hard occpupation of journalist; he has built his entire career on having ideas about how journalism should be, that’s only the concerns of a leftist with what the megaphone should be for the ideology — it’s not really about a free media at all. All you have to do to understand this is to look at two things: Jay’s own website and newspaper he does with his students with is biased and selective and his role in advising Omidaar on the Intercept stuff — which is a riotously sectarian and shrill hard left operation antithetical to the American government, American democracy, capitalism, corporation and the corporate news media. You, Fred, regardless of your own troublesome leftist politics at least have some healthy appreciation of capitalism and corporations; you are one.Jay like other leftists hopes Twitter can go on being harnessed for their own agenda, like electing community-organizers turned congressmen like Obama. But of course, Twitter’s got to live, and despite all its lefty socialist ideals, it has to have some kind of concern for the bottom line and some sort of notion of capitalistic style business.Except, maybe not just yet, because it can still be used EVEN MORE for the 2016 elections and MORE THAN EVER be the conveyor belt for the new president likely hand-picked by Obama (watch for anybody from Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker there…). So before it goes crashing down in a shower of unpaid bills and lack of revenue and angry customers, it wants to convert electrons on the Internet to power — because that might make it more viable as a thing to buy some day, say, by Google or somebody, as a kind of news chat system. So more than anything, Twitter has to prove its *electability*.I agree that Twitter is about news. And sure, all these things Twitter does like “while you were gone” and that HUGELY ANNOYING thing it does with “top tweet” which inflicts on you during every disaster the thing said 12 hours or 4 hours ago by some big influencer over and over as the rest of the world catches up are based on its conception of itself — and its actual use case — as a news platform. (Fortunately, it corrected the “Top Tweet” nonsense by adding in “Live” although we are still stuck with the same problem of Google — something rises to the top in search because everybody saw it on the top in search and clicked it; something rises to the top on RTs because people see it on top and RT it.)Twitter ALREADY became an editor when it decided to use its own algorithms to pitch to me things I might be interested in or people I might follow. I go out of my way to ignore these as they are often laughably wrong because in fact they’re based on machines and not humans.Twitter devs know that, hence this Lightning thing where they will have human intellect intervene to set right the hilarious strays of the machine.Does this bother me? No, because I’m not an ideologically-rigid sectarian like Jay Rosen. I don’t care what these lefty devs do to mess up their product and get in the way. They will fiddle with that and I will walk around it, like a lot of other people in the actual news business and especially space of breaking news on conflicts, as I am. Twitter will hire lefty journos with a world bias that will not get it about Putin; they will choose stuff from their friends with the same bias, they will get in our face more with this bias, but the Twitter is such — and the Internet is such – that *I think* (I hope) we can go on walking around these robots and seeing the real news as it is produced by actual people with actual news and useful commentary *despite* them.I don’t at all buy this mantra about how this will make the product more useful for the average person as the average person is using Twitter for news of their own circle or entertainment news or politics with a very broad brush. Twitter already brainwashed those casual users by putting in front of them the people they should follow when they joined, which are all biased and a great window into the mind of Twitter editorialists — right-wingers on that list are tokens or caricatures; left wing and liberals are oversupplied and centrists or liberals not of the correct Obama persuasion deep-sixed. Go and look at the list of who is recommended when you join, and you’ll see I’m right.Twitter is doing this to win the next election, not to get customers — it has no business model and as much as it is a utility, it’s a utility that isn’t willing to become a true utility for all of us, like electricity or the Internet itself. Social media never wanted to be that; they want to make a Better World and they want to force us into position to realize that “dream”. Fortunately, we can still ignore them.If Twitter becomes unusable because they clutter up the feed by interspersing themselves among the interstices of the experts I follow, the way they do with annoying ads now, then people will drift away to Facebook more which also curates in horrible ways that it isn’t transparent about and also monkeys with your raw feed (because there’s just more material and I guess they “have” to do that), but which is less ideologically left than Facebook. It may be some years before Twitter dies before doing that but die it will because eventually some other service will come along that appreciates the value of a platform and a utility that doesn’t pre-cook but lets people discover.Does this mean that Jay Rosen and I are on the same page, both hoping Twitter won’t change? Not at all, because if Twitter changes in the direction of his hard-left Chomskyian world view and becomes like Intercept, he won’t feel it as heavy-handed; it will be “invisible” like his infamous “view from nowhere”. Only if Twitter were to be more mainstream and actually *gasp* seek balance with some kind of news judgement will he begin to protest. Jay hates the New York Times precisely because far from providing a “view from nowhere,” they provide in many stories 4 or 5 perspectives and sources on a story that in fact creates a pastiche that enables THE READER to decide for himself. Most of the New York Times still works that way although of course it’s eroded in some politically-sensitive areas or on ideological taboo subjects (like anything criticizing Snowden) and of course it is infected by shoddy social media faddishness like all news media today. Even so, people value being exposed to a variety of sources and making up their own mind. To the extent that “curation” helps rather than hinders that process it will succeed.I will say I have zero faith that the Twitter devs will do this. My hope with this fad like the other fads is that they just won’t get in the way.

  55. andyswan

    I don’t know for sure but it smells to me like nothing more than a “sell more ads” strategy.Ads suck. Get creative… we are all DYING to do more with you….cut us in!

  56. awaldstein

    When you can smell need and want its a warning sign.In sales, marketing and product all!

  57. LE

    And sells it by way of a groupon special.

  58. William Mougayar

    Interesting. their website is a bit confusing though.