Tuesday, November 2

Tweeting Not tweeting: New Rules For Anything Goes

Twitter 2010
When Andy Warhol painted Campbell's soup cans, Brillo boxes, and Coca-Cola bottles, it was a well-known fact he consulted the style guides of the various brands he turned into subjects. Seriously? No, not seriously. I just made that up.

What I am not making up is Twitter would like to ask as much of you. Twitter has a new look. And with the new look comes revised rules for what once a clearinghouse of free expression. But as you know, with freedom comes responsibility, namely your responsibility and Twitter's freedom to protect its brand that you helped make popular.

Audrey Watters wrote about how what might seem harmless to some might have significant meaning to developers. And Brian Solis spelled out some of it in painstakingly detailed rules that everyone is asked to abide by. You can read about it straight from the source too.

"This document is designed to help you use our marks without having to worry about negotiating an agreement with us or talking to our lawyers. If you’d like to make any use of our marks that is not covered by this document, you must contact us at trademarks at twitter.com.

They're not new rules as much as they are revised old rules.

Before I go further, I might add most people don't have to be overly concerned today. The original guidelines were posted almost one year ago, including the aforementioned paragraph. Mostly, people ignored them, except developers.

In limited cases, graphic standards can be great things. They can be especially helpful for designers, partners, developers, and other vested parties. Attempting to herd the greater bulk of users, on the other hand, always ends badly.

It's something to keep in check. Twitter is aging quickly as a company, has new people in charge, and is feeling a little less vulnerable. You might too with so many users. Just look at what happened when MySpace felt safe.

All right, MySpace may not be the best example. But it does offer a reality check. One day, Twitter might insist that everyone capitalize the T in tweet (unless speaking about a bird, which I am). One day, the ability to leave the new and less aesthetically functional dashboard might end. And one day, it might insist every screen shot you ever took of a Twitter conversation might be struck.

While that might seem impossible, do keep in mind the new logo isn't as friendly as the original. That makes sense to me. Twitter doesn't define itself as a message service anymore. Nowadays, it is an information network.

By the way, did you know Reddit.com traffic has almost caught Digg.com traffic without any overt platform changes? And did you know Mixx.com is in decline (assuming you heard of it)? Did you know the Internet changes players on a regular basis?
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