Dirk Knemeyer

Twitter, Business Models & Information Overload

Twitter, Business Models & Information Overload, December 8, 2016

At some point, Twitter will get acquired. There’s too much money to be lost to not sell for at least something well below what they hoped and their investors were driving for. Business model, they haven’t found it yet. I’m not seeing an obvious business model in the current sort of Internet technologies stack for Twitter. I mean, look, there’s theoretical business models. They have a business model now, quote-unquote “business model,” with promoted tweets and other rubbish, which is following sort of the old-school commercial approach to attempting to monetize. That is a business model, but it’s not a very successful one.

The question is how will Internet technologies evolve in the years ahead and how could that meta-platform and the platforms within it better enable a product like Twitter based on ease of use, free information, network effects, access to celebrity, among others, not just celebrities, of course, for that to be brought together in a way that it can make money. Right now it can’t, because they’ve given it away for free. Maybe they had to give it away for free in this environment. The reality is if now they yanked it, somebody else would give it away for free. Even if you can’t find a business model around it, the power of the platform is immense. The fact that we are all essentially directly connected to everyone else, except for the very few who don’t opt for Twitter at all, even though they’re famous and would benefit from it or the people who are unknown and not sort of relevant to a networked effects conversation at that level. I mean, we’re connected to everyone, within those exceptions.

Super powerful. Super valuable in non-capitalist ways, but not super valuable relative to the investment, relative to the expectation, relative to the scale of their burn within a normal business structure.

I’m sort of a late Twitter user. I wouldn’t say I really enjoy it, but I do see the value in it. Do we need the news in the way that the news has become accepted as a thing in our lives? Do we need to know that that plane was coming down? Do we need to know that that plane landed on the Hudson River at all? Much less, do we need to know that that plane landed on the Hudson River two minutes within it actually happening? Certainly, the latter is completely unnecessary. I mean, that’s first-world privilege at the max. I would say even the other isn’t necessary. We don’t need that bit of news. That news is not relevant to us. I mean, there are some people in Manhattan or in places where the plane was coming, destinations, very specific people, but for our nation of 300 million-plus people or let’s take the whole world, six billion or whatever the number is now as it continues to spiral upwards, totally unnecessary to know that there was this plane accident on the Hudson River at that time, that it ever happened. It’s unnecessary.

We’ve become conditioned to thinking that all of this stuff is necessary. Oh my god, there’s a child in a well in Guatemala. Oh my god, this, oh my god, that. 99% of what we get on the news we don’t need and, you could argue, is bad for us in a number of different psychological ways. The sort of meta question over all of this Twitter stuff is this urgency, this notion of how it fits into some view of news in the global world, even relevant? I think no. I think that we’ve been taught it is, we’ve conditioned to it being, but my life would be better if I stopped hearing about the person who sawed somebody’s head off on a bus in Africa or all the crazy rubbish. I mean, it just makes me sad and depressed and fearful and suspicious. It’s not good at all. I don’t know, it’s not good at all.

 

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