Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Twitter is like 'rich man's SMS system'

Google's Eric Schmidt described Twitter as 'poor man's email system'. It is usually described as microblogging, but pulling it into the realm of communications can be enlightning.

I think of communications in a three dimensional matrix:
  • Along one axis is the type of message (text, voice or video).
  • Along the other is the level of immediacy, ranging from immediate via somewhat delayed to almost time-insensitive.
  • A third axis could have the type of device by screen size: inch (mobile device), foot (computer) or yard (TV).
Since I don't have any 3-D skills, this what would describe the matrix:

  • The immediate form is chat (inch or foot).
  • SMS (inch) is somewhat delayed.
  • Email (foot or inch) is even more time-insensitive.
  • Traditional voice calls (inch, foot) are immediate.
  • Voice-to-SMS conversion (inch) is the delayed version.
  • Voicemail (inch) is the least time-sensitive.
  • Videocalls (inch, foot or yard) will be immediate.
  • Recorded videocalls could be alerted for via SMS for a somewhat delayed experience.
  • Recorded videocalls could also be vodcasts or YouTube clips (least time-sensitive).
Now the question is: where does Twitter fit in? To me, it feels much like SMS. What it adds to the matrix is that it isn't just an inch app, but a foot app too.

Finally, what is missing in the matrix is mainly yard-versions, such as reading email on TV, but obviously that may not develop into the mainstream. SMS delivered to the foot-screen (computer) is probably a good idea (examples, anybody?). Voicemail to the inch-screen could be done by podcasting.

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