Using Tweetbot and Lists to Make Twitter Useful


As many of you know, I have been occasionally hot and usually cold on the Twitter experience.  Yes, I share hand-curated links *** to my Twitter followers, but much of that takes only a couple of clicks from within Feedly, my feed reader of choice.  But I have never embraced Twitter as either a consumption or a conversation platform.

*** If you’re interested in tech news and topics, you should consider following me, not because I am so interesting, but because almost all of my tweets are links to tech topics and apps I find interesting.  It’s the best stuff from my very large reading list.

For probably the fifth time, I recently embarked on a project to better understand Twitter, both the bad and the good parts.  Some of this is ongoing, but from a content consumption perspective, I knew I had to filter and divide my Twitter feed, to slow the roll a little so I can find the content I care about.  I decided to do this via a third-party Twitter app and some topical lists.  Eventually, I’ll have more lists and the lists will be fully populated, but here’s where I am so far.

tweetboticonI chose Tweetbot as my third-party app.  There may be better choices out there (if so, please let me know), but I keep reading about Tweetbot, so I decided to give it a try.  Installation is easy, and you can get up and running quickly.  It takes some trial and error to figure out how to manage the columns and how to administer lists from within the app, but it’s not a difficult learning curve.

Next, I decided to start with three lists, on three topics I’m interested in: breaking news, Mac & Apple talk, and Wake Forest sports.

I added some of the obvious candidates to each list, and I tweak the lists as I discover new sources or realize some sources simply regurgitate too much quantity and too little quality (I’m looking at you, Houston Chronicle).  It’s early, but clearly this is a system with potential to work.

Click for larger view
Click for larger view

Using lists, I can separate my feed into topics and can manage the content within those topics.  This allows me to better consume content via Twitter, and to be more interactive.  I’ve probably retweeted more in the last week that in the years before, simply because I can see things easier.

I also like the way Tweetbot lets you arrange your columns, and switch to Mentions (so I can reply or retweet if appropriate), Messages (though I really don’t like Twitter Messages as an email substitute), and a search function.

I’ll have more later, but for the moment I’m hopeful that the fifth time will be the charm.

If you’ve already made some good Twitter lists, let me know.  I’ll take a look.

RIP Topify

I’ve praised Topify before, saying that it was one of the most useful little apps in my toolbox.  I’ve used it for over two years, and it has saved me a ton of time, by allowing me to manage my Twitter follows and un-follows (for those dumbasses who think auto-DMing someone will somehow make them money) via email.

Last week, Twitter changed the format of its email notifications, which broke the Topify’s method of  identifying and processing Twitter notification-related emails.  I don’t care enough about Twitter to explore this in any detail, but my general impression has long been that Twitter has a very schizophrenic relationship with the developer community- they love them- until they don’t. 

I was immediately worried that the end may be near for Topify, and today I received an email and read a blog post that confirmed my fears.  Topify is shutting down on August 5, 2011.

There’s theoretically some way to work around this change, but Arik Fraimovich, Topify’s developer, made the understandable decision to throw in the towel:

I considered switching to using the Streaming API in the past, but the only option for Topify is to use the Site Streams version of it. But Site Streams are still in beta, and according to the documentation there is no estimated date for it to exit beta. Considering this last episode and other actions by Twitter in the past year, I have no desire to expriment with their beta offerings. Not only this can result in unstable service for you, they might just shut it down one day.

Unless you are making a butt-load of money in the meantime, why in the world would developers work on small value-additive apps, when they know from experience that Twitter can and probably will pull the rug out from under them at any time?

All I can say to that is, thanks Arik for a great little service.  I used it every day for years, and it will be missed.

Now I’m going to have to visit Twitter to un-follow everyone who auto-DMs me

The Holy Grail of Social Network Sharing: Single Clicks, Native Shares & Clean Streams


I’ve been thinking about the distribution of my content across the various social networks.  My challenge is to use the social networks in a way that benefits me and my readers, while keeping control of my brand and managing my content at a central, owned-by-me location.  That location being here at Newsome.Org, and my primary distribution tool being the “Send to” feature of Google Reader.  I consume 90% of my online content via Google Reader.

Networks I Use

At this point, I use two primary social networks.

I use Twitter (follow me, if you’re interested in hand-picked links to good tech, music and life articles) as a largely list-and-search-driven resource for third party content.  You simply have to rely on lists and saved searches to manage what would otherwise be complete chaos.   Via Twitter I  give (via my hand-curated “Interesting” links) and receive (via lists and saved searches) links to stories of interest.  In other words, the “what are you doing” Twitter updates are of very little interest to me (mostly because, as we’ll see in a moment, I find Facebook much better for that sort of thing), but the pointers to news articles and blog posts are very much of interest.

I use Facebook (Friend me, if we are)  as more of an interactive, conversation stream.  I find the connections between people on Facebook much more meaningful, and much more enjoyable, than on Twitter.  In other words, Twitter feels like an internet creation.  Facebook feels more like real life.

They are very different things.

How I Share

Which means that content producers like me need to carefully decide what parts of our content get pushed where.  Until today, I pushed all of my Twitter content into my Facebook stream.  Primarily, this was to get my curated “Interesting” links into both Twitter and Facebook, via a one-click “Send to” Google Reader process.


I would send an item to Twitter, which in turn would be  sent to Facebook.  It worked, but it was noisy.  There was too much static on the line.

For example, when I publish a new blog post, it gets linked in my Twitter stream, via the WP to Twitter plug-in.  Then, in turn, it would show up on Facebook, the same way.   Like this.


But Facebook’s native sharing process produces a much better stream entry, with a thumbnail, etc.  It looks less spammy and more elegant, giving a result like this.


Duplication and Dirty Streams

Which meant that I had to either allow duplicate new blog post entries in my Facebook stream (bad) or manually delete the automatic Twitter posting and then re-post the item using the Facebook’s native sharing process (inefficient).  Ultimately, I found myself rushing to Facebook to delete certain Twitter-imported items and replacing them with native Facebook shared links.  I felt like George Jetson on the treadmill, with no Jane in sight.

Then I finally realized I was doing it backwards.

The interactive quality of my stream (both incoming and outgoing) is better and more valuable at Facebook.  So that’s where I need to use the most care.  I very much wish I could one-click export selected items from my Facebook stream to Twitter.  That would allow me to pick and choose the links and other content that I wanted to send over the Facebook walls, without having to clutter my Facebook stream with a bunch of imported content.  But you can’t do that.

Tossing Twitter Out of Facebook

So I decided to cut the cord.  As of today, my Twitter feed is no longer pushed to Facebook.  Rather, my curated “Interesting” links will continue to be the most valuable part of my Twitter stream, and any of them that I want to also share in my Facebook stream will have to be re-shared.  This double effort will serve as a mighty filter on my Facebook stream, which is good and bad.  Good because the quality of the content will be higher.  Bad because there will be some interesting stuff that never makes it into my Facebook stream.

Call Me Percival


Which leads to the search for the holy grail.

What I want, but have not yet found, is a way to share content from Google Reader one of three ways:

1. To Twitter (can do this);

2. To Facebook (can do this); or

3.  To both simultaneously, but using each service’s native sharing API (cannot do this).

There needs to be a way to select, slice and dice and distribute content via a Google Reader “Send to” (or the equivalent), which will send the selected content to Twitter and Facebook, simultaneously and separately (without going into one and then being imported into the other).  Another, likely easier to develop, solution would be to create an application that only pushed certain content from Twitter to Facebook.  It would be rules based.  For example, I could create a rule that would push any Twitter post that starts with “Interesting:” to my Facebook stream, but would not push other Twitter posts.

For me, this is the holy grail of social network sharing.  I thought perhaps might be a vehicle to do this or something acceptably close, but I don’t see a way to push the same link through to Twitter as a Twitter post and to Facebook as a natively shared (as opposed to imported) item.  In other words, it seems my ability to push things from my Twitter stream to my Facebook stream is an “all or nothing” decision.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to share especially interesting items twice, in order to keep my Facebook stream clean.  But I’ll keep looking for the holy grail.  It’s out there somewhere, or will be one day.

Seesmic is Dead, Long Live Seesmic

So Twitter buys Tweetie, and some say this is another Apple-like maneuver designed to smack down third party developers and control the whole show.

Who knows what Twitter’s objective is.  I’m not entirely sure Twitter knows.  But I certainly don’t see this as the death knell of third party Twitter apps.

For one, choice is good.  For everyone.  Unless Twitter locks out third party developers, which simply will not happen, just because Twitter owns a desktop and/or mobile app doesn’t mean third party apps can’t thrive.  Hell, Twitter owns Twitter already, and the whole reason we need third party apps is because the native Twitter platform- and the unenhanced experience- is so lacking.

In other words, there are enough holes in the Twitter experience to keep third party pluggers busy for a long time.


I have Tweetie on my iPhone.  I used to use it, and thought it was a well made app.  But lately I create most of my Twitter content in third party apps (WordPress, Live Writer, Posterous, Foursquare, etc.) and push content from there to Twitter.  I can’t imagine that I’ll ever go back to creating whatever content I publish to Twitter on a dedicated Twitter web page or app.

Not to mention the very relevant fact that the Tweetie desktop app is Mac only.


As far as reading Twitter goes, well where to start?  First of all, I don’t think there are that many people who do it.  What I mean by that is that tons of people cast their content onto Twitter, but other than hardcore geeks and people with skin in the game I don’t think anybody really consumes their online content at Twitter (not in the least because most information tossed into Twitter is in the form of links to content elsewhere).  I think Twitter is one giant California with millions of prospectors setting up camp there in hopes of finding gold.  If there is no gold, or when the gold is all taken, most of the herd will move on to the next land rush.

I’d really like to know the percentage of people who regularly read Twitter who do not regularly post to Twitter.  I bet it’s a relatively small number.

To the extent that people do read Twitter, a third party app is a necessity.  Multiple columns, better list handling, the list goes on and on.  Again, choice is good for everyone.  If Twitter is the big honking deal the Twitterati  is trying to convince us it is, how in the world can you say there isn’t room for a multitude of apps and options?

Do we all drive Fords?

Seesmic Web is infinitely better than the native Twitter web site

Furthermore, many people- myself very much included- prefer web based apps.  If this is the year of the cloud, why would I download a desktop app to read Twitter?  This is the main reason why I prefer Seesmic.  The other being an elegant, but not overdone, feature set.  Very Apple like, in a good, non-evil, way.

So I’m not ready to morn Seesmic or any Twitter-dependant app.  I think they’ll do fine.

At least until the gold runs out.

Antisocial Networking, Foursquare & the Binary Filter

Fellow Houston tech blogger and Houston Chronicle writer Dwight Silverman told me today that he was unfollowing me on Twitter, because he finds my Foursquare Twitter updates irritating.


No worries, Dwight.  But as a student of human nature and social networking, I thought about this some while I was having lunch (after checking in on Foursquare of course).

First, some stats to put this in perspective.  I have checked-in with Foursquare exactly 35 times since February 12, when I joined.  That’s slightly more than once every other day.  I have become Mayor of 5 locations, for a total of 40 Foursquare-related Tweets.  Of my 2,871 Tweets, approximately one percent have been Foursquare related.  So while there are probably plenty of reasons not to follow me on Twitter, Foursquare is not one of them.

In fact, I think Foursquare is social networking at its finest.  Unlike Twitter, where people mostly toss links at each other, Foursquare actually provides the opportunity to truly network- as in see people in real life.  When you check-in at a location, you can see who is already there.  If that’s not networking, and this is, then I am seriously confused.

I may be kicked off this list if I mention that
I’m on my way to the Galleria Apple Store.

Other than a passing thought that maybe the relatively few Houston tech bloggers with any sort of web presence ought to stick together, I don’t care whether Dwight, or anyone else, follows me or not.  By no means am I a committed Twitter writer or reader.  I’m not offended- just curious. 

I also understand the need to manage and filter your content stream.  Farmville single-handedly caused me to become an expert on Facebook filters (Facebook, unlike Twitter, is very interactive, once you filter out all the noise).

The obvious lesson here is that Twitter needs to implement key word filters.  I’m sure it will at some point.  In the meantime, we all develop our own binary filters, in or out.  I certainly don’t understand Dwight’s filter for Twitter streams, but that’s OK.  The great thing about these services is that we can all create our own recipe for consumption.  Dwight has his, I have mine, you have yours.

It’s all cool.

Not nearly as cool as becoming the Mayor of Skeeter’s, though.


Now I’m off to the Apple Store.  I need to buy a cable, and see if I can oust the Mayor.

Helpful Links:
Unfollow me on Twitter here (I can’t figure out a direct unfollow link).
Add me on Foursquare

Why Google’s Shot Across Twitter’s Bow Missed the Mark

Erick Schonfeld has three interesting theories as to why Google pushed Google Buzz out the door and into the email client of millions of users, before it was ready for prime time.

I’ve tried Google Buzz, and found it to be pretty uninspiring.  I’d been thinking that one of Erick’s theories might be at play.  A theory that, if true, is going to backfire on Google.  I also came up with a fourth theory that I think plays at least a part in this drama.

The Twitter Negotiating Power Theory

One of Erick’s theories is that Google really wants to buy Twitter, and launching Buzz was a shot across Twitter’s bow, indicating that if Twitter doesn’t come to the bargaining table, Google will use some of its war chest to do battle with Twitter on the micro-blogging front.  Certainly Gmail provides Google with a ready-made user base, and you would think that Google could easily be a force to be reckoned with.

The ability to put Buzz front and center in the Gmail email app gives Google a clear path to the stream.

Or does it?

image via TechCrunch

If the Buzz as a negotiating tactic theory is even partially correct- and I’ve been thinking the same thing, it’s going to fail epicly.  I’m sure somewhere in the bowels of Twitter Control, the powers that be have been worrying about what Google might do to steal some of Twitter’s stream flow.  Google is the potential exit strategy and Death Star for most start-ups, so it gets complicated.  One way or another, anyone operating on the web has to keep a constant eye on Google, who could bring pleasure or pain at any moment.  If Google came out of the gate with a mature, elegant and at least evolutionary  micro-blogging alternative, it would combine naturally with Gmail’s massive user base, and it would be game on.

Which means that the swoosh sound you heard in the halls of Twitter Control on the night Buzz was heaped front and center onto the world’s email screen was a giant sigh of relief.

Other than infesting our inboxes with needless Buzz-related email, Buzz isn’t horrible.  But it’s not evolutionary either.  It’s just another Twitter clone.  If anyone other than Google had released Buzz, it would be almost universally referred to as Butt.  As in of jokes.

Stated simply- if this is how Google intends to scare Twitter back to the negotiating table, this effort won’t only fail.  It will actually increase Twitter’s bargaining power.

The Toss Apps Against the Wall Theory

I have another theory that I believe may also be at work here.

Google has done some great things, and is, for many, the backbone of the online experience.  It owns search, which was its lightning in a bottle beachhead in the battle for the ownership of the web.  Ads spring naturally from search and page views, and Google was able to leverage the first to dominate the second.

But after that, there is no denying that Google has had a decidedly mixed record with new projects and apps.  It got there with email, because of its search presence, and because Yahoo and Microsoft were asleep at the wheel.

But it has also had its share of failures.  Google puts on a brave front, but Google Docs is still, at best, a work in progress.  Google Apps looks and acts like a bunch of unrelated applications haphazardly tossed together.

And there have been plenty of others.  Remember Google Catalog?  That’s OK, neither does anyone else.  What about KnolLively?  Something called Orkut?   Dodgeball?  Shoot, even Wave, which came out to a parade of hype, seems to have already lost its mojo.

Google has a track record of tossing a lot of stuff against the wall, and waiting for something to stick.  Some things do, and some things don’t.  It’s too early to tell how Buzz will turn out, but I can say with confidence that it is not now- and is very unlikely to ever become- a threat to Twitter.

Seesmic Web Makes Good Twitter

I was way late to the party, but have been using and enjoying Seesmic Web for the past few weeks.  It takes the chaos and user-unfriendliness that is the native Twitter web site, and makes it darn near usable.

I like the way I can select, see and manage three columns of content on one screen.

click for a bigger, annotated image

I keep my main feed in the first column, and either a saved search or one of the lists I follow in the second or third column.

Today, Seesmic updated the app to include some really helpful new features.  One of those is pretty close to the feature I asked for the other day- better subscription management.

See the Contacts link?

Click on it, and you get a screen and toolset that makes managing your follows a lot easier.

click for a bigger image

Click on the “following” link beneath your photo, and you get a list of the people you follow.  Click on a person, and you get a screenful of information.image

I’m following the Dalai Lama, but alas he is not following me (can’t imagine why not).  If he was, that message would say “This user and you are following each other.”

From this screen, you can also send a message or unfollow someone.  Not perfect, but better.

It’s also easy to manage lists from this screen, and like Facebook, lists are crucial to an efficient Twitter experience.

The new version still has some issues.  I’ve had some log-in problems, lockups and script errors in Firefox 3.5.8, and the All Contacts button doesn’t seem to work after you view a contact’s details.

But it’s a definite step forward.

Three Simple Things Twitter Should Do to Improve the User Experience

Twitter-Logo-150x150As everyone who reads this blog knows, I run hot and cold on Twitter.  On the one hand, I just don’t  get what’s so magical about trying to have a conversation in a what amounts to a public chat room often inhabited by a horde of spammers. MLM’ers and self-promoters.  I didn’t like chat rooms in the nineties, and I don’t see the appeal now.  On the other hand, a lot of my friends really love Twitter, and I have been wrong before (about Facebook, among other things).

So I keep trying to figure out how to use and enjoy Twitter.  During this process, I came up with three simple things that would greatly improve the Twitter user experience.  Without further adieu, here are three things that Twitter should do right now, today, that would help me and a lot of other people use and enjoy Twitter more.

1. Escalate the Spam Battle

I can’t give you numbers, but I am confident that a large number of the people who follow me in any given day or week are doing so only in the hopes that I’ll follow them back so they can turn around and send me some sort of spam.  MLM crap, outright scams, you name it.  I am equally confident this is the case for other people as well.

Twitter should fight the spam fight for us, or at least give us better tools to fight it ourselves.

Sure, you can send a spam report off into the ether.  I have reported a number of users for spam.  Maybe some action has been taken on some of them, but you can’t prove that by me.  Twitter should value the quality of its network- not just the quantity- and take a stand against spam.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a story about Twitter’s efforts to reduce the spam that runs rampant on its network.

But make no mistake.  There are ways to fight spam.

One of the most effective ways would be to take a page from the message board book and appoint a class of community “moderators” (call them whatever you want) who volunteer to monitor the network for bad behavior and who are empowered to take action against it.  Sure, you have to clearly define what is grounds for action, and you have to err on the side of allowing content, but I can tell you from experience that it can be done.  Cheaply and effectively.

Why hasn’t Twitter done this, or something similar?  The cynic in me says the developers are too busy reading their own press.  But maybe I’m wrong about that too.

I hope so.

2. Allow Embedded Media

This is something Pownce did years ago, and Facebook and Google Buzz do now.  You don’t have to host the files.  You just need a way for people to link content and allow others to hear or see it in line, right there on Twitter.

Some will want to play the copyright card, but if you aren’t hosting the content, I see that argument as a canard.

And even if someone who matters at Twitter thinks this is a bad idea, I don’t think Twitter has a choice.  Why? Because other services are doing it.  Twitter has all the mindshare right now, but as we’re seeing with all the Buzz hoopla this week, things can change.

Spam might kill Twitter.  The failure to stay feature competitive would, for sure.

3. Better Subscription Management

I try to keep up with my inbound and outbound Twitter follows, and in this regard let me give a mighty shout out to and recommendation of Topify.  If you don’t use it, you should. In fact, Twitter should buy Topify and make it part of the core Twitter code.  It’s that good.

Even with Topify, it’s inexplicably difficult to manage your Twitter follows and followers.  There’s no way to mass unfollow people, for example.  There are some services that try (or used to try) to provide this sort of thing (Your Twitter Karma, for example), but Twitter doesn’t like them, and has taken the position that some of them violate Twitter’s terms of service.

Here’s the problem with that.  Why is it OK for spammers to follow 999 people a day, unfollow them and then spam them, but there’s no way for a user to generate a list of people they follow and choose (e.g., by uncecking a box) which ones to unfollow?  Stated another way, why doesn’t Twitter allow us to manage our subscriptions any way we want?

Sure, you can unfollow people via the list of people you follow (click on the “following” link below your photo), but the list doesn’t easily tell you if the person follows you.  You can figure it out by clicking the Actions button and looking to see if you have the ability to DM the person (yes, they follow you; no, they don’t).  But why does it have to be this hard?

Last night, I decided to browse my follows and remove obvious spammers and most of the people I follow who aren’t major media writers and don’t follow me back (you know, my Pink Floyd policy).  This should have taken 60 seconds, but it took forever, because I had to find this list via FriendOrFollow, and then unfollow people one at a time.

Note: my Pink Floyd policy is not absolute.  There are plenty of people I find interesting enough to follow, regardless of whether they follow me.


Another  problem: there are a ton of people who follow me, that I don’t follow back.  My general Twitter approach is to follow back anyone who follows me who (a) has more than a few posts, and (b) isn’t an obvious spammer or  MLM’er (Topify makes this pretty easy by including recent posts in the new follow email notice).  But, again, I come and go with Twitter, and I get behind.  There are tons of people who follow me that I’d like to follow back.  But I don’t have time to visit each person’s profile and decide whether to follow or not.

Twitter makes this a little easier by showing whether you you follow your followers (the “followers” link below your photo).  This is clearly designed to encourage following and to discourage unfollowing.  Why?

You should be able to slice and dice your follows, any way you want.

Users should have access to a page with profile information and a box that can be checked or unchecked to follow or unfollow people.  Candidly, I can’t conceive of why there isn’t something like this already.

That’s it.  Three simple things that would vastly improve the Twitter experience.  For me, and for everyone else.

Why Does Real Time Always Equate to Twitter?

I think Google’s introduction of real time search results is interesting and potentially a step forward in the web search experience.  If, for example, I want to search for the latest development in Tiger Woods’ utter and complete implosion, it would be fun to sit back and watch the stories- and new alleged mistresses-  float by.  In an ideal world, a real time Google search would be like an instantaneous Google Alert, notifying me close to immediately if an article or blog post is published on a topic I am interested in.

What I totally and completely do not get is why whenever people talk about real time, the next word you hear is Twitter. . .


Twitter-Logo-150x150First of all, the large majority of substantive Twitter posts are links to other content.  That has been posted somewhere else.  Already.  So by definition and math, much of what is posted on Twitter is not only not real time.  It’s after the fact.  Wouldn’t it be better to talk about real time results from the actual source of the content?

Secondly, does anyone without skin in the game really- I mean really– think Twitter is all that informative?  To index and serve search results of Twitter posts, in real time or otherwise, is like recording elevator conversations and calling them feature films.  I search Twitter from time to time to see who’s talking about topics that interest me (alt. country music, my hometown, etc.).  80% of the results are spam, 15% are other nonsense, 4.9% are things I’ve already seen and .1% are things that might interest me.  That’s a really bad success ratio, particularly compared to a regular old Google search that generally gives me relevant results.  Or used to.

In sum, there is almost nothing that originates on Twitter that I’d want to see in my search results, real time or otherwise.

Compared to MySpace, however, Twitter is like the New York Times.  The fact that Google includes MySpace in any search results makes me actually pull for Bing.  Or maybe not.

Seriously, who decided this was a good thing?  I feel like everyone talking about this dropped acid while I was chugging Red Bull.

Screwing Over Users Is Not a Business Plan

Let’s all say it together:  the way to make money on the internet is not to screw over your users.

Once more: if you have to make things worse for users in order to make money, maybe your business plan sucks.

imageFirst, I read a little more about this thing.  How in the wide world of sports can any portion of the legitimate internet embrace, applaud or permit what looks to me like nothing more than organized, high tech spam?  Seriously, if I am going to un-follow someone for tossing another idiotic multi-level marketing scheme in my Twitter feed, why in the world would I accept blatant ads from people?  Legitimize an in-Tweet ad-based economy within Twitter and you will be overrun by a horde of eyeball prospectors whose sole or substantial objective is to entice eyeballs inside their tent in the name of money.  If the philosophy isn’t enough to make you say “hell no,” then spend about one second considering the impossible logistics.  Twitter can’t keep the spammers off the line now.  Imagine how bad it will get if in-Tweet ads gets blessed by Twitter.  You’ll see a ton of automated links to stuff we’ve already seen, purely as a set-up for the ad-hosting, money seeking Tweet.  Spam may kill Twitter as things stand now.  Why make it easier?

If you still aren’t convinced, then remember that Tweets are short, 140 character posts, most of which are either completely un-newsworthy or link to content elsewhere.  If you want to pay people for Tweets, then you better pay them for links.  And recommendations.  And good karma.  Word of mouth is the benefit of a good product, not the product itself.  If I tell my friends to watch a particular TV show, I don’t expect to get paid for it.  And if I did, the value of my suggestion would be nil.

In sum, this in-Tweet ad business may just be the worst idea ever.  Other than this one.

Microsoft has proven that it can’t get its ducks in the same zip code where the internet is concerned.  So rather than create something that gets the herd to migrate voluntarily, it is apparently considering trying to buy the herd via some thankfully doomed from the start deal with News Corp, the other big company that doesn’t get the internet.  Here’s the thing: people are going to use Google, that’s why it’s a verb.  If you take your content out of the Google search results, people won’t see it.  Merchants go where the people are, not the other way around.

And if you pay someone else to take their content out of those search results, I, for one, will consciously avoid whatever corral you’re trying to force me into.  That’s just not OK.  If you want eyeballs, create something people want to see, and make it easy for them to find it.  There’s way too much internet content supply to artificially manipulate the demand.  So don’t try to gain customers by making things harder.  It won’t work.

The things that make money are the ones that are good for users.  Not unnecessary obstacles that only serve to leverage off of them.