Manton Reece had a blog post today on App.net (ADN) that I thought was interesting. I’ve been on ADN now for a while and I really like it. It has a conversational tone that Twitter lacks that really reminds me of the internet circa 1998 – 2000. I also think that a bunch of new features are coming that will give it a big leg up over Twitter in practical abilities well beyond the extra characters for posting. (More on that later) The biggest worry about ADN is whether it’ll be around a year or two from now. I’m still bullish on ADN but several people have noted worrying trends.
While there was a huge spike in attention after NetBot for iOS was released things have tapered down since then. One post (I don’t think I’m supposed to call them tweets) illustrates the issue.
The ADN global feed is averaging about 11 posts / min which seems to drop to about 6 -8 when America goes to bed. Of those posts, over 20% come from people I’m already following… and I only follow 138 people.
I have an uneasy feeling about this.
Now I wouldn’t make too much of this honestly, although it is a little worrisome. Right now ADN is a pretty great community. In just a handful of months they’ve made a very reliable service. What’s most interesting are the new features that are coming. Already there is private messaging and several clients, including Felix, support it. There’s a real plethora of fantastic ADN clients for iOS including Netbot from the people who make Tweetbot, Riposte and others.1
The App.net service is adding new features as well. Right now posts can have annotations and developers are figuring out how to use them. One thought is something I’d long desired for Twitter: adding categories so you can sort posts by categories. That way if you like to read John Gruber’s tech posts but not his baseball posts you can separate them. A separate category for posts that are more link oriented (as most Twitter posts are) verses those that are more conversational is reportedly coming. Hopefully Twitter like lists for your users are coming too, although technically it would be easy for a client to add those independent of App.net.2
An other big feature that many are using are App.net based chat rooms. These are somewhat like lists except that comments in the room are only seen by people in the room. While no client yet supports them yet, you can access them via the web client Patter. There are already many rooms going. Once clients, especially iOS ones, support these chat rooms it’ll be a great new feature of the service. Right now the chat rooms are new and not many use them. I suspect that’ll change with time — especially once clients integrate them.
Overall what I am seeing is ADN taking the best features of so-called web 1.0 communication services like ICQ, chat rooms, and IM and merging them with some of the best features of Twitter. This is leading to a fantastic new style of web service. The problem with chat rooms and IM back in the late 90′s was that they were so immediate. The best thing about Twitter is you could go away for a while and then come back and catch up. ADN really is bringing the best of both with a very similar feeling to those earlier movements. They quickly became overwhelmed with spam and other problems. I think ADN’s pay model will prevent that from happening.