On 'The Private Network Effect'

Ben Brooks, on the difference between Twitter and App.net:

That’s the difference between Twitter and App.net to me. Twitter is the public golf course, the coach seat. It’s where everyone is, and that’s exactly the problem. App.net is where a few people that are invested in the product, its direction, and the overall health of the service, go to socialize online.

Ben’s one of my favorite writers1 -- I’m a proud member of TBR -- but I respectfully disagree with his characterization here. To me, his metaphor feels mighty elitist. It seems Ben’s saying App.net is so much better simply because they charge for the service and embrace third-party developers. But what does this message say about the people (like me) who straddle the line between both services? Are we wrong to still support Twitter by using it? More importantly, who’s to say App.net’s direction wouldn’t go astray in the future? I respect Ben’s decision to commit fully to App.net, but his post seems to imply that Twitter is “evil” and that users are “lesser” for staying.

I’ve written here in the past about my feelings towards Twitter’s business decisions, especially to developers. And I like App.net perfectly fine, but I love Twitter for the service. I get news from it. I connect with friends. Twitter is useful to me. I can’t say that about App.net, at least not yet. I backed them out of principle and nerdery, but I’m certainly not going to abandon the Twitter ship. Again, I just don’t see App.net as being so much better. In terms of practical use, Twitter gives me a “first-class Twitter experience”, no question about it.


  1. And not just because he complimented my site as being “nice looking” in an email once.  ↩