The tipping point for Twitter is coming

Twitter suffered an unplanned outage this afternoon.

Not on the scale of the troubles Twitter has suffered during much of this year – things are definitely getting better – but an outage all the same.

What’s a Twitterer to do at times like this?

Quite a few people blog about it. Others head to Pownce or Plurk, even Jaiku. A growing number focus on Friendfeed and the relative newcomer Identi.ca.

Everyone always comes back to Twitter as soon as it’s back up, including me. But I wonder how long the coming back will last.

When today’s Twitter outage happened, I headed over to Identi.ca.

whyimhereatthemo

I signed up to Identi.ca at the beginning of this month but I’ve not really used it much.

I use Twitter, I like Twitter, everyone I know is on Twitter. Many of those in my Twitter social network also use other services especially Friendfeed. Yet we always come back to Twitter.

Today, though, there was something a bit different. I don’t really know what it was but I kind of got into discovering Identi.ca.

What prompted my discovery mode was Twhirl, the third-party application with which you can interact with everyone in your networks in Twitter, seesmic, Friendfeed and Identi.ca (and who knows what else soon).

Twhirl makes it easy to carry on a dialogue in any of these services where how you interact with each one is broadly the same.

So I had some spontaneous chats with a number of my Identi.ca friends, all of whom I’m also connected with on Twitter. Some of them were there also because of the Twitter outage.

And it was a pleasant time! As Sarah Perez noted:

identica-sarah

Similar thinking:

identica-replytosarah

Maybe it’s a lot to do with the fact that my group on Identi.ca is relatively small compared to Twitter (their groups tend to be relatively small as well). And I’ve deliberately not connected with literally anyone as I have tended to on Twitter.

Don’t misunderstand me – I love the cut and thrust interactions on Twitter with lots of people: the firehose, as it were. But today, it was just nice to be out of that firehose for a while.

I don’t for a minute think that you’re going to see a sudden large-scale migration away from Twitter to Identi.ca or anywhere else as a result of outages like today’s.

Apart from anything else, many people (and organizations) have a great deal invested in Twitter in terms of connections and time and energy in building up what they do there.

Yet I wonder if other Twitterers who enjoyed the type of singular experience I did today at Identi.ca will want to spend more time there or at another service – alongside Twitter, to be sure – until a tipping point of some kind happens.

I don’t think we can doubt that a tipping point will happen. What will it look like?

It will be something that tips a large number of people over and towards one particular service. That service will then dominate as everyone else joins in, largely deserting other services.

It could be Twitter, of course. Nothing’s a given.

About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.