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Dec 10 2011

We the Tweeple, in order to form a functioning interface, beseech you …

I beg you, I beseech you, oh Mighty Gods of Twitter, please fix the myriad, aggravating flaws with your user interface. I like Twitter, my friends like Twitter, it’s become a primary Internet tool. almost on par with Google. The underlying concept is brilliant, like an adult version of Facebook, without the bullshit fluffy-feely we-wanna-harvest-every-last thing about you and exploit it for our gain angle. Just a few years ago we didn’t even know we needed Twitter and now we can’t imagine online life without it. Bravo! But goddamit, right now I’d love to see you half as engaged in user concerns as Facebook.

Specifically, the default screen, the one users are stuck with if they don’t use Tweetdeck or some other add-on, is terrible. I don’t know what brown-nosers are saying in meetings, but I promise you, it has outlived whatever initial usefulness it had in every way. We hate it. Starting with basic layout and functionality and going from there. There’s only one column, the only change I’ve noticed is a year or two ago a few dithering highlights were squeezed into the right margin. Unfortunately, at various times, even that single, humble column loads incredibly slow or hangs up. And when it does that, the damn thing seems to drag resources away from the entire PC somehow, sometimes windows open to other, unrelated sites get sucked into the mysterious Twitter induced black-hole.

I realize the vogue corproate response to do is always blame user PC, drivers not updated, cheap devices, improperely configured …anyway to absolve senior management of all repsonsbility is always music to the CEO ears. But, reeeeally? Should it be that complex? This isn’t World of Warcraft or Battlefield Three. Tweets are made of text and links, limited to 140 characters at that. In 2011, just how much goddamn processing power or code or whatever should it take to type or post a short line of text? Chat rooms do it, streaming video does it, the comment section of Daily Kos does it, why can’t Twitter do it? And while we’re on that subject, another related and quite frustrating phenomenon is text often won’t even appear in the message send window as we key it in, we type a letter, and somewhere between one and 30 seconds later the letter actually deigns to appear. If there’s a bottleneck in sending, can the damn window at least let us type what we’re planning to send without that shit happening?

Speaking of aggravation, is that standard page supposed to stream, or does it only do it sometimes, or what? Because it does seem to want to stream, a little, sometimes, arbitrarily, other times it’s so locked keystrokes don’t register at all. Most perplexing, in my experience, on computers ranging from antiques to bad ass machines designed for MMORPG developers — with high-end NVIDIA graphics cards and gig after gig of every kind of power — your service locks up the entire browser so bad the only solution is to close every fucking window or reboot.

Hung webpages are bad enough, particularly considering the trillions in R & D that have been spent over the last two decades, but do you have any idea how bad it pisses off people when the entire computer seizes up? The lost time, the needless anger, the harsh attitude adjustment it produces; we are busy, reading and writing and updating as fast we can go. So every time Twitter does weird shit, and it happens several times a day for people like me who work online a lot, our train of thought is blown, our workflow interrupted, and we lose all or part of anything we’re working on.

No matter what add-on someone is using, or what kind of computer or connection they’re on, ultimately they depend on your engine running smoothly. So when that engines coughs and backfires, or blows up, it screws us all. And I promise you, time is short, We the Tweeple are growing tired of it. How poorly Twitter the shitty interface serves Twitter the fantastic concept has become a meme of its own.

Here’s what I don’t get: by a fluke, by sheer luck, by super-hero genius, a handful of gifted developers handed you, the Chieftains of Twitter, a working prototype as valuable as a winning lottery ticket. It’s grown exponentially, 300 million Tweets a day. All you have to do is put in the work to refine and improve that concept, and you get to cash that powerball ticket in. My understanding is venture capital investors are not only interested, they have already provided three rounds of multimillion dollar funding. Is there still a cash flow issue, are the senior business model managers on the through-put side just not as talented as the developers who created the platform? Because this is going on, what, three years now?

If cash flow is not an issue, I cannot for the life of me imagine what you have spent the last three years doing. As someone who works for a video game software developer myself, I’m keenly aware that these things take time, that something that sounds simple might require rewriting millions of lines of code. But whatever the challenges are, if you don’t start rising to meet some of them and rollout a serious improvement, soon, someone who can is going to lift your idea, gain dominance, and you honchos will spend the rest of your bitter, professional lives trying to sue their gargantuan corporates asses for the billions that should have been yours walking away.

2 pings

  1. 1
    This week in science: The future’s so bright … | Hotspyer – Breaking News from around the web

    [...] will solve the seemingly intractable hung web page dilemma, or that Twitter will introduce a decent user interface? It’s worth hanging in there to find out, progressive comrades and assorted liberal [...]

  2. 2
    This week in science: The future’s so bright … - Online Political Blog

    [...] will solve the seemingly intractable hung web page dilemma, or that Twitter will introduce a decent user interface? It’s worth hanging in there to find out, progressive comrades and assorted liberal [...]

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