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New Twitter Design Locks Users In

Lisa Rau |
September 16, 2010 | 1:23 a.m. PDT


A one-stop shop for content may turn Twitter into a voluntary information prison. (Illustration by Lisa Rau)
A one-stop shop for content may turn Twitter into a voluntary information prison. (Illustration by Lisa Rau)
Twitter's new website redesign says, "Come, stay awhile…

And never, ever leave."

New Twitter is a super decked-out new version of the website that will house all the shared content that users leave Twitter to view. Mashup videos. Meat dress photos. Election updates. Nearly every type of content you’d get somewhere else, you’ll see in one… single… location: Twitter.

But maybe Twitter prison won’t be so bad. It’s not necessarily a walled garden, like Facebook (which isn’t really so secret). Maybe it’ll even replace Google as a go-to for real-time information. Take that, Instant Search.

Maybe this is the push Twitter needs to make the site more universal. A one-stop shop for even the most non-Twitter-inclined lurker.

At 90 million tweets per day, the website is no small contender.

Here’s an overview of Twitter’s shiny new toys:

  1. Double columns. If Wrigley taught us anything, twice the fun is the way to go. Left column: traditional Twitter feed. Right column: content explosion extravaganza.
  2. Media, media, media. The right-hand pane is all about photos, videos, music, user bios, maps… nearly anything you’d need to leave Twitter to view. And of course, there’s plenty new room for ad space.
  3. Infinite tweets. This is mainly for Twitter addicts, lurkers and feed fiends. Instead of having to click the “more” button a bajillion times (like trying to go back on someone’s Facebook wall), new Twitter allows you to scroll, and scroll and scroll…

New Twitter may lock us into never leaving the site for information. Ever. Voluntary Twitter prison, to be fair.

But here’s a bit of irony for the site that feeds off of instant gratification:

All this hype… but new Twitter isn’t available to everyone just yet. Yes, the now-now-now service is forcing patience upon us.

More and more users will be “invited” to begin using new Twitter over the next few weeks, a strategy designed to accommodate all 160 million users.

VIP tweeters have already teased the Web with screenshots galore. Sigh. The rest of us underprivileged one-column-ers will just have to twiddle our thumbs until the invite arrives.

Until then, it might be fun to peruse the homepages of some of Twitter’s new content-sharing partners for updates, such as YouTube, Flickr and Etsy. They should have teamed up with Regretsy too, if only for their ability to identify major miscarriages of justice.

If you haven’t received an invitation to use the new Twitter yet, sit back and enjoy the simple beauty of one column while it lasts. Information overload may be here to stay.

Reach columnist Lisa Rau here.

Or duh, follow her on Twitter: @LisaRau


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