In just 6 short years twitter has established itself in our lives. Hashtags on most TV programmes, the @ sign has become ubiquitous and every day celebrities help to extend it’s mainstream audience a little further.
It’s here to stay right? Well lately there have been rumblings that twitter is losing its way, the increasing restrictions on developers using the API, the disgraceful way in which it sucked up to a major advertiser, deleting a journalist’s account for daring to criticise NBCs coverage of the Olympics, it’s all looking a bit murky.
The problem of course with an ad supported network is that, as we all know, if you’re not paying, you’re the product; a commodity to be bought and sold. This is something we have always accepted but perhaps in the future we will look back in surprise at our compliance (if you’ve not read it, highly recommend Michael Wolff’s excellent piece on the essential problem with the ad supported model).
Just because it’s the way it’s always been, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
The founders of App.net are daring to do something bold. In their words they’re building, “a real-time social service where users and developers come first, not advertisers”. Asking users to commit to paying $50 per year for an account, they’ve raised nearly $300,000 of a $500,000 goal but with 5 days to go until their deadline to raise funding it’s looking questionable whether they’ll get there.
And it’s not just the relationship with the users, App.net will offer much more flexibility (and therefore innovation?) for developers.
I really hope they reach their target. It’s so easy to plug ourselves into these platforms with no real consideration of the Faustian pact into which we’re entering. Go join.app.net and let’s find a better way.
*UPDATE: There’s a great piece about app.net just gone up on TNW, which includes a Q&A with founder Dalton Caaldwell
*UPDATE: With 19 hours to go, App.Net have exceeded their target (currently at $600,00), so now it gets interesting. I also wanted to link to this post by Orian Max, since it explains very well, all the various benefits of a App.Net.