Twitter has jumped the shark for the digerati attending South by Southwest here in Austin. Daniel Terdiman at CNET points out what everyone trying to follow the #sxsw tweets has discovered — there are just too many of them. It seems that, while Twitter’s hardware can scale for the many millions of people who have joined the community, the actual service cannot.
Twitter is still up and running, but the idea of generating a real time picture of what folks are doing, and extracting relevant information from that picture, is kind of like trying to pick out your grandma at the Washington Mall on the satellite image taken during President Barack Obama’s inauguration. It’s easy to see that a lot of folks were there, and hard to find that one thing you’re looking for.
Such a hiccup should give pause to those pointing to Twitter a source of real-time search capabilities, and possibly to those hoping for a real-time web, where every bit of information that’s interesting to you is delivered in real time. This will undoubtedly act as a catalyst for better Twitter filters and delivery methods, but it may also be a clue that tapping into thousands of people in real time through the web is just as unwieldy as tapping into thousands of people real time via the telephone or in person. When it comes to large crowds, Twitter’s strength isn’t in the details, but in creating the overall satellite image.