I started using Twitter back in about October of 2006. It had a pretty sizable following by that time, and it has grown quite significantly ever since. I quite like the service, and I’m totally enamored with the idea of microblogging and micromedia in general. And like everyone else, I am frequently annoyed at how often Twitter simply doesn’t work.
Which begs the question – why hasn’t it died? Why do thousands of users like myself keep coming back?
I’m getting really sick of the various messages Twitter displays when it’s down. Too many times I’ve sent text message updates, only to have them never appear or worse, appear days later. Too many times Twitter has stopped sending me updates altogether. Yet despite all the complaining I do, I always find myself back with Twitter as soon as its up.
Why that is, I’m not sure. But I think it may have something to do with the API.
The smartest thing the dudes over at Twitter ever did was make an easy-to-use API, and I bet they didn’t even realize how important it was at the time. It has resulted in dozens and dozens of third party services that build on top of the Twitter community. Positive reinforcement. It’s the API that makes Twitter so versatile, and it’s the API (primarily, I think) that keeps me coming back.
Of course, there’s something to be said about the large, active community that lives at Twitter. Even though in theory it should be simple to hop from service to service on the web, it never happens that way, and the large number of Twitter users certainly exerts a strong gravitational pull. Still, you’d think people would say “enough is enough” after a year and a half of 404 errors and other problems.
But they don’t. Twitter is as popular as ever. I think the API is largely responsible for that.