Erika Hall is Co-Founder of Mule Design Studio and a pillar of the web world. She literally wrote the book on design research for web projects and while I haven’t surveyed them myself, it’s likely that most of her nearly 10,000 Twitter followers work on the web. Today she tweeted:
… which elicited a wide range of responses:
(Advertisers have no taste.)
(I’m equally sympathetic with and dismissive of implementers of online advertising.)
(Agency life burned me out big time.)
(My status as one of the all-time greats of Web 2.0 allows me to paint with a broad brush.)
(Capitalism is to blame.)
(I misread the question as a call to action.)
(The X-Files is my favorite TV show.)
(Everyone has an equally valid opinion.)
(Here’s an ad!)
(Twirls mustache. Dramatic ellipsis.)
Huh. That was… interesting?
So you have a group of people who are passionate about the web all reading Hall’s 134 characters about web advertising slightly differently. She follows up with more context:
Which generates a huge amount of discussion (seriously, go read those responses) which yields a link to a Medium post about how Quartz is approaching this topic and a tweet linking two wonderful posts Karen McGrane (the X-Files enthusiast above) wrote back in the day:
With just a little more context the original point became clear, productive discussions were had and the question was answered in a number of interesting ways.
Shoot the messenger?
With only 140 characters at your disposal, every tweet is out of context. Twitter’s supremacy as a real-time awareness platform combined with its utility for linking and commentary has us using the tool in all sorts of different ways. But commentary is not discussion and the time it takes to write clearly and concisely betrays the in-the-moment spirit of Twitter. That said, without the network effect of Twitter, the question might never have been answered as fully as it was.
While some might wildly overreact when presented with the notion that Twitter is not the only way to communicate, I see it as a sign of maturity on the web. A blog post is different from a tweet which is different from a Facebook status update which is different from a Medium post. People are finding the right tool for the right job, which is likely a contributing factor of the rise of newsletters. The next time you try and get your message out there, take a moment to make sure you’re publishing on the right platform.