Steve Gillmor is obsessed with Twitter an especially Track a specific function within Twitter that allows you to vanity search the service in real-time. Gillmor runs the wonderful Gillmor Gang podcast and every episode includes a plug for Twitter and specially a complaint about the Track functionality not being available.
All this reminds me of Word in the early 90s.
In the early 90s there was a long running functionality fight between the various word processor applications. Every few months a new version would appear with yet more functions. Every few months the magazines would run articles comparing the different packages and tell their readers which to buy.
During this period Word would often be labeled as incomplete, and missing key features. What was it missing? Word Count! Every few months, Word would be reviewed and it still wasn’t ready. Microsoft even produced a Macro to display a Word Count but the journalists just called that a fudge and not integrated.
In the end, Microsoft produced a Word Count with added extras, readability scores and such. Journalists happy; Microsoft went on to world domination.
Why is this like Twitter?
Well the Track function is fantastic is you’re Steve Gillmor, it’s what he wants. In fact, it’s also why Scoble likes FriendFeed I believe. However, they’re of no use to 95% of the users who just want to talk to friends and family.
What we’re seeing is journalists push applications developers into helping journalists and not the majority of their users.
Want another example? Who on earth needs over 2000 followers in Twitter or Facebook? Outside the world of PR and journalism it makes no sense. Let the complaints begin.