Twitter has a Halo

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As a borderline obsessive registrant of odd domains, I am a veritable storehouse of borderline interesting domain registration trivia.

The binary representations of ASCII alpha characters? Already registered in their .com forms, for the most part — particularly those with appealing patterns (i.e. “U” as 01010101.com, or the beautifully symetrical 01011010.com for “Z”).

Clever english wordplay taking advantage of the .us extension? If I tell you that abdomino.us is taken (abdominous, adjective: having a large belly; potbellied) does that give you a sense of what the remaining possibilities are like in our post-del.icio.us world?

So why am I telling you this? Because I read Fred Wilson’s post “The New Journalism?” over the weekend. The post is well worth reading in its entirety, and it closes with an interesting assertion:

Just because it’s said in 140 characters or less doesn’t mean it’s not journalism. To think otherwise is patronizing and wrong.

While I don’t entirely agree with his statement, it has started an interesting discussion. It is, however, a discussion that I’m going to ignore completely. (Those of you who have visited my about page may recall that I dropped out of journalism school, too.)

The thought that immediately popped into my head upon finishing the post was not “this feeds into some interesting discussions on the formal changes in ‘journalism’ that have been occurring in recent years,” nor even “I’m sure Fred knows that we already did New Journalism back in the ’60s, so this would have to be ‘new new journalism’ or ‘neo-journalism’ or something,” but rather “I should totally register 140characters.com and drop a Twitter-related service up there.”

You see where I’m going with this now, right? I couldn’t register 140characters.com — a relatively obscure and tortured geek reference masquerading as a domain name — because it was snatched up on March 14th…smack in the middle of SXSW, otherwise known as TwitterCon 2007.

The same person appears to have gotten 140chars.com a couple of weeks later, too, and both domains are currently showing the default RoR install page. I feel confident in asserting that we’ll either see a twitter+misc. feature X clone or (more likely in my estimation) an add misc. feature X to your twitter experience offering in the near future.

Yesterday GigaOm pointed to Five Twitter Tools We Love (Twitterment, Twittervision, Twitteriffic, Alex King’s WordPress Twitter Tool, and Where.com’s GPS Twitter), and Dave Winer is very clearly and publicly enamored of Twitter’s potential for extension. So Fred Wilson sees the evolving relationship between society and journalism in Twitter, Dave Winer sees a technology “coral reef,” and you can’t swing a cat without hitting somebody’s idea for a twitter-related service.

Does this mean that Twitter is, in fact, the Next Big Thing? God, I hope not — I still can’t really get into it, truth be told. But my liking it isn’t the point here…what’s interesting is not the steep adoption curve, or the blogtwitter on Twitter, but rather the fact that many, many people seem to respond to Twitter by thinking “hey, I can extend Twitter to do X…hmmmm, now what happens if I do Y, as well?”

That halo effect — that people want to build on and around Twitter, and can do so easily — is more interesting than Twitter itself. Sure, part of the effect comes from developers’ mercenary need to self-promote by catching on to the Twitter wave, but what’s wrong with that? It’s not just that you get a lot of people working on Twitter-related things, it’s that you get a lot of different people working. The fractional horsepower approach breeds strange and interesting results from its many inputs.

Of course it also means that there are that many more people competing with me for odd and entertaining domain names, but that’s a sacrifice that I’m willing to make.

Bonus Content
You too can become the life of the party with Web 2.0 domain name trivia: what domain name popped into Jack Dorsey’s head when he first imagined Twitter? Answer here.


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