Twitter: the pulse of the planet that never started beating

Dan Kaplan at Exponents looks at Twitter:

So now we arrive at the part that breaks my heart: Evan Williams envisioned a future for Twitter as the pulse of the planet. The pursuit of this vision would almost definitely have taken Twitter down a very different path than the one it ended up taking.

Because if you’re setting out to become the pulse of the planet, your north star metric is NOT the number of active users on properties you control. It’s not about harvesting your users attention, maximizing their engagement, and monetizing both with ads.

No, if you want to be the pulse of the planet, your goal is to collect, standardize, and analyze as much data as you possibly can about anything and everything that’s happening in the world in real time.

When harvesting real time data and turning it into useful information is your goal, every successful third party app that feeds you that data is your friend. You don’t care if someone else builds a more compelling way to publish or read tweets, as long as you own those tweets.

You might not even care if someone else does a better job hosting your users photos and videos or shortening their links, as long as they give you privileged, free, and unrestricted access to any data they collect through your platform.

When you’re the pulse of the planet, don’t have to play the game of triggering dopamine releases in your users’ brains in order to harvest and monetize their attention…you’re in the business of selling access to your unique data and the extremely valuable insights contained within it.

Is it too late for another pivot?