There's a growing sentiment that Twitter is failing us - not because its service was shut down last week, or because it's failing to articulate a coherent business plan (not that it's any of our business, by the way) - but because it's <a href="">causing a URL-shortening service to shut down</a>.

Michael Hickins, Contributor

August 10, 2009

4 Min Read

There's a growing sentiment that Twitter is failing us - not because its service was shut down last week, or because it's failing to articulate a coherent business plan (not that it's any of our business, by the way) - but because it's causing a URL-shortening service to shut down.I have no issue with Tr.IM developer Eric Woodward complaining about how Twitter behaved towards him. I don't know if he has a point, but it's certainly his prerogative to complain.

But influential blogger Robert Scoble is singing a dirge to Tr.IM and calling out Twitter for "stab[bing] both users and developers in the back with no notice."

Wait, what? Scoble never even gives Twitter a chance to respond or rebut Woodward's version of events. And we know he could because Scoble has already boasted of his access to Twitter founders Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone.

Reading his screed carefully, I get the sense this is really about Scoble getting back at vendors that he's covered favorably in the past for not keeping him in the lap of tech luxury to which he's become accustomed.

For instance, Scoble complains that he can't search for older Tweets, and he wants to, darn it.

Twitter search only shows the last few weeks and I've asked developers if they can get them but they can only get to the last few thousand Tweets.

The last few thousand Tweets! Twitter never promised to hold onto our Tweets for all eternity, or allow us to retrieve them at will. In fact, tweets are the very definition of ephemera -- some with more lasting value than others. You want to keep track of all your Tweets? Copy/paste, dude.

And come to think of it, tweet archival could be a business for someone else. But blame Twitter for not providing this? Ridiculous and narcissistic.

Scoble also complains of an inaccurate follower count (while disingenuously "admitting" that he never realized until last week that some people follow you only so you will follow them back.)

only 46,000 out of my now 93,500 followers have come over to FriendFeed, which demonstrates that I have a lot of followers who won't do anything I ask them to [and therefore aren't true followers]... It's worse than that, though. Twitter regularly cleans out spammers and such. Last time they did that they restated my follower count as 2,000 lower.

The truth is, follower counts are probably not accurate enough to enable Scoble to engage in ego contests with other bloggers. Mirror, mirror, on the wall?

His side-note about Flickr is telling. Flickr won't give him access to his photo archive because his Pro account lapsed. Beware of a former fan scorned.

Now Flickr can extort me for money anytime it wants. Why? Because I want my kids and their friends to have access to their childhood photos and I want you to have access to them too.

Extort? It's called a renewal. You signed up for a Pro account. We live in a market-based economy, and that means Flickr needs to collect its fees or it will go out of business.

Are you angling for a free Pro account, or do you want Flickr to simply be tolerant of Robert Scoble because Robert Scoble is too busy taking terabytes of pictures and blogging about it to remember to re-up? Should there be a Scoble dispensation? It's just Scoble being Scoble.

Back to Twitter.

Scoble's most serious charge is based on reading stolen documents published by the ethically-challenged Michael Arrington, which show that Twitter executives talk trash about potential partners.

Scoble infers from these documents that developers and other partners should consider Twitter untrustworthy.

Developers are already distrusting Twitter and are looking for ways to make sure that Twitter can't stick the knife in their backs.

Sticking a knife in their backs? Really? It looks more like Scoble is upset because Twitter isn't propping up the company he prefers.

Twitter has already shown itself pretty useful in surprising ways -- as an outlet for dissidents in a totalitarian country to make their voices heard, as a first alert for a deadly new disease, and as a way for more people to be heard and more information to be shared more quickly than we thought possible before its advent. But just because we've come to depend on it in so many ways doesn't mean it's a public service. It doesn't owe us anything.

Scoble seems to think it does owe him something however, and is in danger of becoming that most repellent of beasts -- a privileged observer who's become outraged at our obliviousness to his importance, and who will punish offenders from height of his bully pulpit.

He should be careful that vendors don't start looking for ways to make sure that Scoble can't stick the knife in their backs.

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