You know why I think Twitter has staying power over competing sites? Two reasons:
1. They’ve reached critical participation mass. Scoble says it best on this tweet:
“I’m on Jaiku too. I just like Twitter better. I don’t know why. Mostly cause most of my friends are here.”
2. Growing pains transparency. If you follow the Twitter blog you’ll see posts where the Twitter team shares details about scalability issues as well as mistakenly focusing on lower priority details. Per Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s The devil’s in the details post from last Thursday:
“As much as we’d love to blame yesterday’s outage on scaling issues, hardware, exponential growth, rogue bots, aberrant behavior, or even our brief stint on Japanese television last night, we can’t. Having achieved a strong position with regard to scaling Twitter, we felt comfortable enough to begin optimizing lots of smaller parts of our application for maximum efficiency. We were so focused on those smaller details that we lost track of the bigger picture and the site was unresponsive for lots of folks throughout the day.
What went wrong? We checked in code to provide more accurate pagination, to better distribute and optimize our messaging system—basically we just kept tweaking when we should have called it a day. Details are great but getting too caught up in them is a mistake. I’ve been CEO of Twitter for two months now and this an awesome lesson learned. We’re seeing the bigger picture and Twitter is back. Please contact us if something isn’t working right (with Twitter that is).”
It’s tough to be mad at someone when they own their mistakes and demonstrate improvement. And as far as growth mistakes of social networking sites go, participation volume is clearly the secret sauce — if you’ve got it, the rest will hopefully fall into place on short order. I like Dave Winer’s analogy that successful technology is like a coral reef.