This could quite possibly be my favorite blog post to day. I can finally announce that Tweetment, a place where you can design individual web pages for your tweets, has gone live to a small group of alpha testers. Can I get a HELLZ YEA!? Along with the Neutron Creations crew and two former Fi colleagues that all helped with the dev work, an alpha version was released last Monday. I think it is fair to say that we can all be proud of our little creation.
I love Twitter, it is by far my favorite social network. It is simple and to the point, without scaring me with silly privacy issues, or finding out that your boss saw that pic of you drunk on the floor that night (you know, the night before you called in sick). But the true beauty of Twitter is that you have only 140 characters to express yourself. That’s it. It forces you to cut to the chase and “less is more” becomes more than a design mantra but a form of expression. Sometimes, the more words you use, the less they convey what you originally wanted to say. Less words = greater impact. That is the magic of Twitter and that is why I love it.
But with that love comes some problems.
As my hero Stan Lee coined, with great power comes great responsibility. This seems to apply to the world of Twitter. Though Twitter has become a perfect place to consume content curated specifically to your fields of interest, it has also become a breeding ground of worthless information. Because of it’s easy publishing, people barely create content anymore and mostly just re-tweet things they like. On the rare occasion users may say something original, but the majority of tweets out there are usually out of impulse and without a lot of thought. I guess as with any other form of consumption, our brain simply has to adjust to filtering the crap out. Problem is, there is a lot of crap on Twitter.
Another issue I have with Twitter is the design context, or lack there of. Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is brilliantly designed. It focusses purely on function, and based on Twitter’s success the design obviously works. I have tremendous respect to the Twitter design crew and know that they are working hard creating quality designs.
My beef is with the actual Tweet or stream of Tweets, from a conceptual stand point. I was told that in the future we would all have flying cars, talk through our wall size screens, or better yet send a hologram of our selves to get the message across. Instead we are stuck with what…? with text. SMS, DMs, Emails, Waves, Shmaves. It seems that even though we have advanced technologically, I still have to type sentences into small devices while I am driving a completely grounded car.
What I am trying to get at here is that Twitter, at the end of the day, is just a long list of text. A long list which can be, at times, a tad exhausting. Where are the magic holograms? Sometimes visuals are worth more than 1000 words, let alone 140 characters. Wouldn’t things be so much more interesting and exciting if what we wanted to say could be visually enhanced by something other than a simple photo on Twitpic? What if you could actually visualize how frustrating Photoshop’s “Save to Web” is or that Hiiii-Yah feeling you can get at the end of a long day…
These 2 issues I had with Twitter – the bare text with no visual context and the thoughtless tweeting, brought on an urge to create something new for Twitter.
I wanted to create a place where users can associate design and imagery to their 140 characters and evoke more emotion into a tweet. A place where users can pluck their tweet out of the stream and place it in an environment that provides visual context. A place where you don’t just spit out words but think of a concept before speaking. Think of it as creating a poster for your Tweet. This would only be possible if we were to provide the user with the tools needed to customize a page for their Tweet.
And so the idea of Tweetment was born.
Six months ago I finally started freelancing and found some time to think about creating apps for myself, when Tweetment surfaced into my mind again. I immediately contacted my good friend Christoph Ono to start development. He got on board and we started prototyping the idea up. We quickly realized that there was great potential with this idea, and a few weeks later we already had a working prototype.
Then came Neutron Creations. They joined in to give us some much needed help. Ben and I had been discussing partnerships for a while, and when Christoph had to take a pause following the arrival of his beautiful baby son, Lukas, Ben and Marc were the first on my list. We quickly discussed a partnership and started development from prototype to actual product.
It was a blast working with both Christoph and Neutron Creations. Without them my vision would have stayed in that exact capacity and never come to reality. I am humbled and greatful that they are taking part in this project.
Tweetment is still in its infancy. As I write this, only 72 users are participating in our Alpha release, helping us test the stability of our servers, find bugs and help out with ideas for new features. We have released only to our friends, families and industry peers, our most trusted focus group. We trust their patience and understanding that this is only the beginning, that there are still a lot of bugs to squash and that there are still many missing features.
Later on, Tweetment will be released to the public rather than creating a closed community. Yes, this may open pandoras chest, allowing people to design some unsightly pages, but this is a risk I am willing to take. Heck, if Twitter opened to the general public, I don’t see any reason why Tweetment shouldn’t. I am also very interested to see how the public uses this tool. People have already been using it in very smart ways, sometimes in ways I would have never imagined they would.
Hopefully, soon we will start releasing invites to all of our wonderful and patience Twitter followers. It will be on a first come first serve basis. We will release in batches of 200 or so in a pretty rapid frequency.
Since Tweetment is completely funded by yours truly, please understand the caution I am taking by releasing slowly. Tweetment is image and data heavy, which means that our servers need to be ready for that. We are making sure that these servers can hold the weight of our user’s creativity, which unfortunately doesn’t come cheap. So again, thank you for your patience. I promise that Tweetment will go live to everyone very soon. But for now, please follow us and expect to receive an invite in the near future.
Thanks everyone. I am extremely excited to what the future holds for Tweetment, and I hope you are too.View original editorial design
Written in New York. © 2013