Thursday, January 28, 2016

Scalability: from Neanderthals to Twitter

A quote from "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind",

Twitter is having trouble competing for users against Facebook and Youtube because it has failed to scale human relationships beyond the threshold of 150 individuals. That is, the social networking niche of "less than 150" is already occupied by Facebook and for Twitter to become successful, the company has to make it easy for each user to organize and curate information dynamically from thousands of people who are not in the immediate network. Moreover, since connections and information on Twitter is more (10X!) dynamic than on Facebook, the degree of organization of information streams has to be at least 10X more sophisticated as well.

Youtube has met its content scalability challenge by enabling users to create and share playlists, channels, and subscriptions. Every user on Youtube is a developer who produces new ways to access contents at a collection or stream level, rather than at single video level. In Scalable Innovation we call it scaling at the aboutness" layer. So far, Twitter can't find a way to enable its users to become developers. All they can do is propagate gossip, which worsens the information overload problem for everybody who gets over the "150 individuals" threshold.

To summarize, Twitter needs to find a way to help people become better Information Sapiens because the Information Neanderthal niche is already occupied by Facebook and Youtube.

tags:scale, innovation, control, aboutness, twitter, social

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