Twitter started out life as a wonderfully inclusive society. There were very few rules and the ones there were the people loved. Thou shall be brief, retweet to respect. Under this constrained freedom, Twitter prospered and grew rapidly for the joy of all.
Budding entrepreneurs built apps that made life better for everyone. Better, in fact, than many of Twitter’s own attempts. They competed for attention on a level playing field and the very best rose to the top. Users saw that this was good and rewarded Twitter with their attention. Twitter grew.
Unfortunately this inclusive world was not meant to last. From the beginning, an extractive time bomb was ticking. One billion dollars worth of eagerness for return. Hundreds and hundreds of hungry mouths to feed in a San Francisco lair.
And thus began Twitter’s descent into the extractive. First, they paid lip service to the society. Their curtailing of freedoms was for the betterment of all, you see.
The “consistency of the user experience” was imported as a new ideal. But the populace was nonplussed. Who was this ideal for? Who had asked for variety to be curtailed? Not us, said the people.
But objections be damned, the Twitter lords marched on. After all, they knew the billion was growing restless and the minions in their lair equally so. Turning back now was not on the table, lest they risk the anger and fury of the billion.
So it went that the extractive provisions were rolled out quicker and wider. The initial feigned attempts at covering new rules and restrictions with “it’s in everyone’s interest” fell further by the wayside with every new decree from the lords.
While the original rules were simple and fair—140 characters for all—the new rules were complicated, opaque, and easy to bend for the favored.
Some early app entrepreneurs would get access to 200,000+ users by the nature of their legacy stature; new ones would get half. Favored masters of Big Media would get to break the law of 140. And the Twitter lords themselves would expropriate and evict on a whim.
The populace grumbled and groaned, but like the frog boiled slowly, they adjusted to their new temperature one degree at a time.
Twitter’s billion was happy. Progress was being made to extract the most from these fertile lands it had lent. And with the billion happy, the lords were happy, and so too all of the lair.
“I wonder how long this one will last?”, asked the Web to his friend Email. “Who knows”, said Email, “Facebook is still around”. “Aye”, nodded the Web, “Winter might be longer this time around, but inevitably Spring will return”.