Twitter, as poorly managed and designed as it is, does stem from an interesting and useful idea : broadcasting concise, short-lived messages. As it grew as a social network, the need to occasionally send longer messages has become more important. Users had conventions to do that, be it tagging (yet another feature that started as a user convention before being actually implemented), using “1/n… 2/n” markers, replying to themselves (also a feature that started as a user convention…), some third party clients implemented their own features (like Tweetbot’s stories), but Twitter finally implemented this feature called “threads”. And now everyone is using it.
So now we have a social network spending significant amount of ressources to implement a feature that lets its user publish text, in amounts longer than 280 characters (140 when the feature was implemented). Something an Apple ][ running a BBS software back in the 80’s could do.
Discussing how technology for its own sake can result in over-engineered solutions for non-existing problems has already been done more than enough. Let’s however consider some of the inconveniences of Twitter threads, so that hopefully people might reconsider and turn to other proven technologies (like, you know, blogs ?) to publish anything longer than a tweet.
Twitter threads are :
– hard to write. You can’t write properly when you’re constrained by breaking up your sentences in chunks of 280 characters.
– hard to read. No user interface makes them readable. In your regular tweet list, they are interspersed with other unrelated tweets. In a user’s tweet list, they are still shown you as separated chunks. The simple fact that some people found it necessary to create a web site specialized in presenting twitter threads in a readable form should be enough to demonstrate that.
– near impossible to find, or retrieve afterwards. Remember that cool thread you read about this hot topic ? Wanna read it again, or show it to someone else ? Try googling it, see how that works for you.
Blog posts have none of these problems. When you want to do a thread, please just do both yourself and your readers a favor and a write a blog post, or a Facebook note, or anything that lets you present text in a coherent, readable form, like computers are meant to do, and tweet the URL to it. There are dozens of websites allowing you to do that, Twitter is not one of them.