Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Twitter and it's Parasites

Over at Reuters Blogs, Jon Cook has an article up entitled 'Is Bit.ly's Twitter advantage unfair?'

Bit.ly and Tr.im are URL-shortening services. As some of you may know, Twitter has a 140 character limit, so these websites exist to make URLs short enough to fit into 'tweets.'

The thrust of the article is that Tr.im finds Bit.ly's special relationship with Twitter (as its default URL-shortener, ooh la la) unfair, and is likely to go out of business because it can't compete.

Here is a quote:

Tr.im further stoked the Bit.ly-Twitter relationship debate, by adding that “Bit.ly has a monopoly position that cannot be challenged with reasonable investment or innovation unless Twitter offers choice. This is a basic reality of challenging monopolies. Bit.ly has deep personal connections and agreements with Twitter that we simply cannot compete with. And it is our humble opinion that this type of favoritism will become an issue for all Twitter developers.”
First of all, as many of the commenters on the Reuters Blog post pointed out, in most other industries this is simply called free competition. Enterprises are free to form preferential relationships with each other ... what exactly makes Tr.im think it deserves some special privelege ... and what makes Reuters' writer Jon Cook think this story is newsworthy?

Secondly, I find this whole issue to be representative of all that is troubling about the "new economy" led by the "creative classes."

I personally find Twitter to be incredibly overhyped. It doesn't really offer anything that existing web services didn't already offer. In fact, it artificially constrains messages to 140 characters for who knows what reason. I suppose it represents the incredibly short attention spans of today's media-crazed populace. Twitter's growth has been mostly driven by hype and social influence ... people try it out because all of the cool people are doing it, not because its actually useful. If you scan through Twitter you'll find that most "tweets" are often just plain junk, that or what are essentially private test messages put out in the open.

Here, however, we're not even talking about Twitter. We're talking about companies that act as parasites on Twitter. Both Tr.im and Bit.ly basically existed to serve the "market" for URL-shortening that Twitter created. The fact that one of these companies is complaining about a "monopoly" would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic. Do these companies really think theres a viable market allowing for multiple competitors in URL-shortening for Twitter? Isn't Twitter going to eventually buy and incorporate one of these companies anyway? Truly, this is a tragedy of the greatest proportions, LOL.

And yet ... this is what our leaders tell us is the future of the American economy, or at least should be. This kind of "social entrepeneurship" ... this kind of "innovation" (and truly, where would society be without the marvelous innovation of Twitter and Bit.ly?). Even though there are billions of people around the world who need to be fed, clothed, given housing, given transportation, etc. any kind of industrial or physical economy is "dead" in the eyes of many of America's political and economic leaders. Instead, the future many of our leaders would prefer is one where we design new ways to waste time (and to make that time-wasting process more efficient). I seriously wonder whether the people investing millions of dollars of capital into these pointless tech companies and the political leaders heralding them as the greatest thing since sliced bread have ever actually visited and spent time on these sites.

Well, enough ranting for me ... If you agree with me, spread the word about my blog. If you don't, express your differences in the comments.

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