is twitter the next myspace?

I use twitter and think it’s pretty cool way of throwing out a link or having some conversation bites with friends, but the marketing/social media whore side of it is getting out of control. The same thing happened with myspace.

There are a few articles I have read (sorry I can’t remember the exact articles) that state that twitter does not suffer the same woes as myspace etc  – as ultimately you choose the people you want to follow. However, there are loads of people who follow you on twitter for no apparent reason, which to my mind is the same problem I experienced with myspace (it doesn’t really affect you much per say, it’s just seems a little lame).

Not that I mind people following me, I would like to encourage it, but only if you are interested in what I have to say. Otherwise what is the point?

Lately, I have been wondering what the response would be if I posted a link that directed you to a page that said “£100 will be given to each of my followers that see this page”. I suspect I would only be a couple of hundred pounds down, if I was down at all. Those who are following 5000 people must set up TweetDeck to ignore most of them and read only a chosen few. WHAT IS THE POINT IN THAT?

Well here’s the point (if you can call it a point). They were hoping to get you to follow them in return. I refuse though. That said, I do actually check the profiles of each and every person that adds me as a friend – apart from those with usernames like manboylovesxxxx. If their tweets are something that are relevant to my life, i.e. developer/designer chat, music chat, or sport then I will follow them. Other than that, what is the point in me following them?

Some recent articles ([1],[2]) have illustrated the measured conscious switch of twitter from a comunications medium between friends to a marketing tool. Surely the idea of using it in this manner is really just tantamount to spam? The idea is that you follow as many people as possible with the hope (knowledge) that a subset of those who you follow will follow you back. In fact you can even use Mr Tweet to observe users who adhere to this pattern. Surely what these users are doing is the same as those who send spam emails for Viagra and penis extensions do – they know that if they send out enough emails some idiot will reply. Is this a good thing to be encouraging?

One thing that has surprised me so far is the lack of using twitter to meet chicks! I haven’t seen much of this, and given that there is no better way to get a guy to use something than to encourage him with the thought of getting laid, this is a real surprise. I mean everything is there to make this happen. Who knows, maybe it won’t be long before the first ever twitter marriage. And mark my words, it will happen, with photos on TwitPic and a running commentary of the ceremony using an iPhone. Maybe we need twitter-like sites that are domain specific to save us all from this black hole!

[1] 8 Useful Tips To Become Successful With Twitter

[2] The Twitter Survival Guide 

are you in it for the long run?

As developers we are often faced with the issue of time vs. quality. Let’s face it though, we could spend forever getting it all just right, from documentation right through to unit testing. However, there has got to be a point when you let it go and see how it flies.

This is particularly true when you are faced with a real-world optimization problem, e.g. scheduling, time tabling, process optimization.  Often with this type of problem it is very difficult to obtain an optimal solution. However, I find the more time you spend on the problem the better you understand it, which normally leads to an improved model.  In turn, the improved model leads to a better solution, or an equivalent solution found in a shorter time.

This begs the question when do you give up and say it’s finished?

To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is to that. As a developer I want to keep on going, hoping to pull the rabbit out the bag, but as an employer, I just want the thing done good enough to have a competitive edge.

The same goes for unit testing – especially at a startup. In this setting you are NOTHING until you get your product out the door, and until you do, you are hoping and praying that no one beats you to the punch. Some people say that quality shines through, but how bright it shines I’m not sure.  Take myspace as the perfect example. It has no redeeming features – it just got there before everyone else. Does anyone know a band not on myspace though?

However, Google proved that the best product can establish its market regardless of its starting position – I now find it difficult to believe that I thought Altavista was good. It’s important to remember though that for every Google there is a myspace (or the ipod, for that fact) where the first is not the best, but people have invested too much time in their choice to change (or in the case of the ipod, maybe it’s fashion outshining functionality).

So what IS the answer to when is the software ready to go? Maybe the simple answer is “whenever someone is willing to buy it”!