Twitter has an awkward UI, it's horribly slow and having terrible scaling problems (The Curse of Success). But it's proving to be a mind bullet that is throwing off a load of ideas.

As I said yesterday, I find it interesting that the UI has produced a set of behaviours. Everybody's looking at Twitter as Micro-Blogging. The displays are all LIFO, latest at the top. People are using it to broadcast their thoughts not to have conversations. The Personal Twitter page encourages this by showing just your posts as if it's a blog.

Now imagine that we actually used it for conversations the way we use IRC or Skype Group Chats. A Personal page of just my posts would make no sense at all. And we'd want to have displays with latest at the bottom scrolling up.

But trying to duplicate IRC using purely web technology is never going to work because you're never going to make it responsive enough. IRC (and IM) is architected for this kind of real time conversation.The web just isn't.

But Twitter has still got a new idea. And the new idea is that you can build a Group Chat Channel from the social networking interaction of saying "This person is my friend" or "I want to follow this person".

So the next question is how to build a Group chat system with that core idea at it's heart. Get rid of the concept of Channel or Club or Yahoogroup and base the grouping purely on people's social networks.

At this point I turn to Skype. A Skype Mood is quite like a Tweet. Skype already broadcasts your mood to all your contacts. We can prototype this by building a tray application or Skype Extra that displays the last N changes in Skype Mood from all your contacts with a simple text box to change yours. We can use Moodgeist to produce the global time line. We'd base the UI on Twitteroo just reversing the display so it's more IRC like. It's a horrible hack on something not designed to do this but it would let us prototype the idea. To do it properly would mean getting Skype to do it inside the application and properly and it's some way off their core competency.

I could do something like this in Ecademy. If I can get the indexed queries right it should scale OK within Ecademy's limited community. Well at least this year anyway. But a web interface isn't responsive enough.

Doing it on a really big scale I think needs some new architectures both at the server and at the client. What we're looking at is some web2-IM hybrid.

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[ 29-Mar-07 8:19am ] [ , , ]