I Am Frustrated With Twitter. We Need A ‘Twitter Killer’ #startup

by Shelton Bumgarner

I should be going to bed, but I can’t help myself. I keep finding different angles for a Twitter Killer based on Usenet and IRC concepts. The two things put together would be a one-two punch that would fell Twitter and maybe take Reddit along with it.

I say this because Twitter is a complete piece of shit.

It’s barely useful. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s useful despite itself. I want a service that organizes the huge amount of information that a public service like Twitter generates, but does so in a much more friendly manner than Reddit.

That’s the thing, Reddit is probably closer to what I’m looking for…and yet, I don’t like it. I don’t like it because I want something based directly on Usenet concepts, not watered down. I think young people would be delighted with an updated version of Usenet (at least the version I have come up with) and I also think you could make a lot — a lot — of money.

I say this because as I have thought the service up, you would interact with subjects you were interested in in a self-selecting manner that would allow the service to offer up extremely specific ads that you wouldn’t mind interacting with. At least, that seems the most logical use of the service relative to my vision for it.

I just like the idea that I could go to a specific Group created by a Verified Account holder about this or that topic and there would be a steady stream of people talking about a subject I was interested in. It would be live chat, not the weird delayed discussion that Twitter has. Then, should the owner of the Group post something, we could respond to it with inline editing and a full page.

Now, I debate if that particular aspect of the service is needed. Should anyone be able to start a thread? I just don’t know for sure. It makes more sense for that to be so, and yet. Maybe it should be up to individual Admins. Maybe that would be a feature they could decide upon. That makes the most sense.

I think that would be the answer to a lot of problems — when in doubt make it an option you could access from a pull down menu.

I don’t know anything. Everyone should ignore me. But I do have practical end-user experience with social media so this is just me daydreaming. I am, however, really frustrated with Twitter. Something needs to be done about that. Someone, somewhere, needs to come up with something to replace Twitter. Twitter is so very annoying.

Unpacking Everyday Use Of This Social Media Service Based On Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

So, what would it be like to actually use this service on a daily basis?

Well, as I see it, what would happen is something like this. You would log-in to the service and see notifications of what people you follow have posted in your newfeed like feature. It’s possible that if you service grew large enough, you might even be able to limit this to different Groups.

But, in general, there would definitely be a Facebook vibe to it in some respects, only everything you were seeing would largely be from people you had no real-life connection to. You would move those people to Facebook should you meet them in real life.

Anyway, after glancing at that information, you might look up to see who had followed you. People who followed you would get notifications of everything you had contributed to the system. This would be a way to cut through the enormous amount of information pumping through the service, should it grow large enough. But once you got past that, you would look at your newfeed more closely and you would begin to interact with the things you saw there.

One interesting conundrum this service might have is how to implement social media concepts that people have grow used to because of Twitter, Reddit and Facebook. I honestly don’t know how you might favorite or share posts you liked. I just don’t know how that would work out yet. I have to give it more thought. I don’t know what the consequences of all of that would be. But those features would be there in some respect. You would have to be careful not to make the service too much like Reddit, Twitter or Facebook in that respect, but that type of feature is something people have grown to expect so you would have to have it.

Now, one interesting thing is, if you interact with stuff in your newsfeed, does it take you to the Group where it was posted? That’s another question I haven’t answered yet. Might initial thinking is, yes. This whole concept is so strong that that is not too difficult to figure out, especially if someone with some design experience would actually listen to me.

But, as I keep saying, I have no money and no one cares what I have to say, so I’m just mentally jerking off about this obsessively for no other reason than I’ve had too much coffee tonight and I am enjoying writing too much.

Anyway, one interesting question is how you would implement discovery of Groups. My initial gut reaction is there would be a feature rich search feature where you would find Groups through either a keyword or the person associated with them who created the group as part of their Verified Account. So, in a sense, for someone coming from Twitter the end experience would be very similar. But it couldn’t be too similar because, well, you don’t want to get sued.

So, you find a group and you join it. You would follow it like you would a person. You could also, I guess, follow an individual person. That is an interesting aspect of this concept — you could follow a Group and not follow the person who was responsible for its creation.

I really think people would really enjoy a service that was much like Twitter but significantly more feature rich. Or, put another way, this service is designed for people like me who want something like Twitter, but don’t really want to use Reddit, either.

Once you joined a group, you would see inside it a IRC-like stream of live text on a portion of the screen. You would dip in an chat some, and if you really wanted to, you could click on a thread and interact with that content as well.

This is a really strong concept. Too bad I’m not only broke, but about 10 years too late. Typical.

Of Podcasting, Soundcloud & The Music Industry In The Context Of Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now, the reason why I think you could use a service based on the concepts of Usenet and IRC to revolutionize not only the publishing business but music is because if you see these concepts the way I do, then there are any number of use cases you can think up.

So, this post is about the use case of music industry, podcasting and this service.

The interesting thing about this concept when it comes to podcasting and music is it’s a natural fit. If, as part of developing the site, you were to buy Soundcloud on the cheap and integrate it into the service you could do some pretty cool things. I say this because the key to making the service a success is finding different communities to use as source of growth marketing.

Establishing this platform as one where you could discuss podcasts and music would be pretty cool. The entire service would be designed to encourage debate and discussion and pretty much given the passions associated with music would be a perfect fit. People love to talk about music and podcasting and if you made it so you could actually do a podcast native to the service, all the better. Though, because I’m a former user of the now defunct video service known as Blab if I had anything to do with it, I would try to take things to the next step and use video as much as possible.

But imagine Pod Save America dropping on the service. There would be a Crooked Media post beneath the podcast and people could inline edit that content in a threaded discussion as well as have an archive live-text chat about it as well. This is pretty powerful stuff on a conceptual level, if nothing else. While I’m sure these concepts are floating about here and there, I can’t think of a site like the one I imagine that would do it all in one place seamlessly.

Or the latest hip-hop video drops and you get to not only watch the video, but get a full-page ad for merch and tickets to venues where the performer in the video is going to sing. That’s pretty cool, I think. And because people are interested in this content in the first place, they won’t mind that they’re interacting with an enormous ad while they talk about the music.

It seems pretty obvious that EDM would be the perfect subculture to promote this service to at first for no other reason than they have a huge amount of passion and they would love the ability to talk about venues and music and what not. Now, I know there are probably plenty of sites that already exist that allow them to do just that, but I like to think the service I’ve come up with would be so cool as to draw at least a sizable amount of those people to the service.

But, as I said, no one cares what I have to say. This is just daydreaming. I will grow tired of it soon enough, but for the time being it’s relaxing to look at this concept from different angles.

Monetizing A Social Media Service Based On The Concepts Of Usenet & IRC

by Shelton Bumgarner

So, the real question is, how would this service that I keep writing about make money?

That is the point of all of this.

I would say the crux of monetizing this service would be the thing that makes it different than Twitter or Reddit on a fundamental level. Neither Twitter nor Reddit gives me the basic ability to have a threaded post that’s an entire page. Because of the distributed system of Usenet, it was nearly impossible to use what could have been a strength in the manner that people wanted to use. Also, the fact that Usenet effectively years before broadband and the modern Web had much to do with it.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, it is quite curious that if you give it some thought, we’ve made a huge step backwards in online discussion in the last 20 years. It’s very curious. I believe if you were to strike with a discussion service that used the concepts of Usenet and IRC in a way designed to make money you could make a huge amount of it. Like, Facebook money.

I say this because if you look at it the way I look at this situation it’s obvious. Imagine a site where you can seamlessly integrate full-page, targeted ads inside online discussion in a manner that people don’t even realize that they’re engaged with it because they’re so interested in whatever is being sold. This is really cool, especially if you work on the assumption that you will, much like Facebook, learn a huge amount about your user base as things progress.

Not that they’re won’t be problems. There probably will be plenty, but if you design a site from the ground up that both wants to be a discussion platform and an advertising platform the engagement will be so high that you would eventually be making money hand over fist. It just makes total sense. The concept I’ve come up with fixes most of the problems of both Twitter and Reddit in a manner that people won’t mind that they’re getting a nearly constant stream of enormous targeted ads.

It’s too bad no one is listening to me and I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But it’s fun to talk about, that’s for sure.

The Specifics Of Integrating IRC & Usenet Concepts In A New Social Media Service

By Shelton Bumgarner

Now, I am well aware that social media now has zero buzz in Silicon Valley. All this writing I’m doing about this subject is pointless and no one is listening. But for me, personally, it’s relaxing and I enjoy exploring the topic for myself if no one else.

So, how exactly would you integrate two really addictive 20 year concepts — IRC and Usenet — in a seamless manner that would not only keep people coming back, but make a lot of money?

Well, I have given it a lot of thought and I think the best way to do it is like this: you’d have an IRC channel devoted to a Group and an IRC channel devoted to a thread. This is how you do it — on the quarter or so of your screen would be an IRC like channel devoted to the Group’s topic, while once the owner of the group — a verified account holder — started a thread, on about a quarter of the right of the screen would be a live stream of text devoted to that particular thread.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that a thread could only be started by a verified account holder. That fixes a lot of problems when it comes to newbies and morons posting stupid shit to a group. It would be a way to manage who posts what to a group in a somewhat subtle manner. There might be some bitching about this at first, but I think people would get used to it.

I really like the concept, if nothing else.

Of course, there is the issue of how these two IRC-like channels would be displayed across the service. That is an interesting problem that I doubt is too difficult to overcome. It’s stuff like that which is fun to mull over when you’re a boring job for a few hours.

Use Case: Bringing Back Usenet Concepts & Saving The Publishing Business

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have talked at great length about this subject, but it’s fun to daydream about it. No one is paying me any attention and I’m kind of cooling my heels intellectually until I get a new camera and pursue that life. Having said that, I think a service based on the concepts of Usenet could do wonders for the publishing business.

I say this because instead of sending people a link to a site like you have to do with Twitter, with this proposed service, you could come to some agreement whereby a link detailing breaking news could be shot directly into the service in such a way that not only would people be able to inline edit it as part of the discussion, but the original ads associated with the article would be preserved.

This is important because people will be engaging with the content in a really proactive manner and the ads associated with the content would be viewed heavily. This might, just might, help with interaction of ads in such a way that it could boost the bottom line of online journalism.

This doesn’t even begin to address the issue of how you would know a lot more about users than otherwise because they would come to a newsgroup, or “Group” as I call them, for a very specific reason. They would not only come to a newsgroup for a specific topic, but the “patron” of the Group, a verified account holder, would be directly connected to the group because they created it.

This brings up all kinds of interesting advertising scenarios. Imagine a full page ad for this or that widget as a post in a group that was hotly debating the merits of the widget. Or something. Something like that. I would be interesting. I really like this concept. I think it has a huge potential upside monetarily.

But as I keep saying, no one is listening to me. No one cares about what I have to say, so this is more about me relaxing on a cold winter evening than anything else. Here are some more thoughts below.

Of Group Creation & Thought Leaders #Startup

by Shelton Bumgarner

One of major issues of Usenet when it existed as a major online force was newsgroup creation. If you were to aspire to create a service that would be as large as, say, Twitter, you would have to deal with that issue as well. To me, it seems the solution would be to give Verified Account holders the exclusive ability to create new newsgroups. That would fix that issue quite well.

You would have the ability to have lots of newsgroups with a very specific subject that would be attached to a specific thought leader. There obviously would be some redundancy caused by this, but I really like this concept. It’s really strong and scales well. It also gives the opportunity to lots of value added features that I think people would really enjoy.

It’s just a really cool concept. It’s a really interesting way of fixing the creation of new newsgroups problem. Of course, there are any number of other UX issues to be addressed. You want to make the service feature rich, but you don’t want to make it so complex that it overwhelms people.

Of Thought Leaders, Content Providers & A Service Based On Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some basic problems exist online that a new discussion service devoted to updating the concepts of Usenet and IRC could fix. The first major problem is content providers continue to struggle to make money online. I believe if you designed a service based on the concepts of Usenet you might not be able to fix the problem but you could definitely ameliorate it.

I say this because what if you came to an profit sharing agreement with major online content providers so they could shoot out their content into this new service with all their ads intact. People would be able to inline edit the content, pick it apart in discussion and still be exposed to all the ads from the original content provider. This is pretty powerful I think. If, say, there was breaking news and the Washington Post or New York Times shot the story in its entirety into this discussion service, all the ads associated with the story would be seen as people were engaging actively with the content. This, in a sense, would take blogging to the next level.

I think that’s pretty cool.

Meanwhile, there is another problem: thought leaders are really growing tired of Twitter. It seems pretty obvious that if you gave them a better option they would bolt Twitter and bring their community and its collected fans along with them. If you told celebrities and other thought leaders that you gave them a service that gave them exclusive administrative goodies they probably would be extremely pleased. Giving verified account holders the exclusive ability create and manage newsgroups (or whatever they’re called in the service) would attract them in droves and be the basis of the new service’s initial success.

There are seemingly an endless different ways you could use this service when it comes to thought leaders. Imagine a major musician dropping a track into the service in such a way that people could discuss it between themselves with significantly more engagement than the typical tweet. Or, hell, for that matter, you could put an entire podcast into the service and people could debate the podcast with great gusto. I really like that one.

Anyway, as I keep saying, I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. It’s just fun to write about this. Though, if you want to see me talk about this at great length, look at my Instagram account.

The Curious Case Of Usenet, IRC & Why Twitter Needs To Die

by Shelton Bumgarner

I had a dream last night about how easy it would be to use any number of great Usenet clients as a the basis of a Web interface for a new discussion service that would be a “Twitter Killer.” Some of these clients, especially the ones you had to pay for, were really, really good. They were feature rich and fun to use and got the job done. Figure out a way to integrate IRC concepts into the interface and you have the makings of something really, really cool.

Of course, you’d have to update the experience some simply because people have Twitter, Usenet and Reddit as a frame of reference. But the general concepts you would use for such a service are extremely powerful and useful in today’s world.

One of the reasons why it took me years to use Twitter is I was so used to Usenet’s interface that I didn’t get what the big deal was about. Even now, I struggle to understand how anyone would use Twitter instead of Usenet and the answer is, of course: they don’t know Usenet even ever existed.

Usenet was not perfect and any service you designed would have to be designed from the ground up to address some modern needs. You would have to be able to integrate advertising seamlessly and you would have to address some basic issues that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago when Usenet and IRC were popular.

One issue I think would be interesting to address is newsgroup — or whatever you called them — creation. In my imagination, you would give verified account holders exclusive ability to create new newsgroups. You would give them other privileges, but not too many simply because you wouldn’t want to burden them with administration duties. Yet I think a lot of thought leaders would get off on the notion they had more power than just the average user. Now, of course, being a verified account holder would come at a price: you’d have to use your real name.

Another issue that would have to be addressed is cross posting. Cross-posting spam was a real issue with Usenet and I think simply wouldn’t give people the power to cross post at all. Or maybe just give it to verified account holders within those groups they had created.

Once you assume you’re going to use Usenet and IRC concepts as the basis of a Twitter Killer, there are so many intriguing, interesting tweaks you would be able to implement. Because Usenet was based on the notion of threaded entire-page posts, you could do some interesting things with content providers. They could shoot out their articles — in full — into the system and then people could quote the content directly through inline editing. The content providers make money because the ads associated with the content would still be associated with it. Done properly, this service I imagine could not only revolutionize content online, but, in a sense, bring back blogging from the dead.

Another interesting twist to the old Usenet concept is directly integrating IRC concepts into it as well. This is a little bit more fuzzy, but somehow you would make it so you would be able to enjoy now only the experience of old AOL Chat rooms but the old Usenet experience as well with the same service. So, it would be something like, you would have a public chat associated with each new newsgroup. Or something.

Additionally, something that would be really cool is what you might be able to do with profile pages with this service. If you had a way of cutting through the enormous amount of discussion such a service would generate by linking what you contributed to the service to your profile page, that might be really popular. Of course, you would have the usual Trending topics as well.

I also really like the idea of one-click recorded video-conferencing being associated with this as well. It would be cool if you could have a text chat with someone, then hit a button and start a recorded public video chat that would be associated with a post. Maybe only verified account holders could do this, but I think, in general this is a pretty strong concept.

Now, I don’t expect any of this to happen. I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But I use Twitter so much and miss Usenet so much that I keep thinking about this concept over and over again. I keep thinking of different interesting use-cases. I have posted an enormous amount of Instagram videos on this subject and the only reason why I don’t do it again is I have started to use my Instagram account for pictures more than anything else.

Of Usenet, IRC & A Proposed ‘Twitter Killer’

by Shelton Bumgarner

Only because this really bugs me do I keep writing about this. It just strikes me as odd that there are well-established design concepts that existed 20 years ago that we no longer have in public online discussion. I’m thinking specifically, of course, of Usenet and IRC. Usenet more than IRC for reasons that will become clear soon enough.

Compared to today’s online discussion systems, Usenet was both extremely difficult to use and surprisingly feature rich. The closest thing to Usenet today is Reddit, but I find Reddit useless and poor implementation of Usenet concepts. It seems pretty obvious to me that if Silicon Valley could stop drooling over AR and VR long enough to pay attention, they would see that an online discussion service that brought back the concepts of Usenet in conjunction with IRC would be both popular and profitable.

One of the things that killed Usenet 20 years ago was no one knew how to use it to make money because it was designed for discussion, not money. But if you learned from Facebook, it wouldn’t be too difficult to design something like Usenet that wasn’t so much like Reddit that people just shrugged and said meh. There was a lot going on with Usenet that we simply don’t have anymore. It’s really strange. Over the last 20 years, we too a quantum leap back in functionality when it comes to online discussion.

If you would somehow combine the concepts of Usenet and IRC in a big way, in a way that the masses could understand and enjoy, I think both popularity and profit would quickly come your way. Again, I have to note, I’m just a dreamer. I just daydream a lot and remember using Usenet 20 years ago and loving it and now in middle-age I miss it a lot. I long for the functionality of Usenet in an online service that aims to eat Twitter’s lunch. Twitter, unlike Facebook, seems really weak. In the past, I thought there was a chance to go head-to-head with this concept against Facebook, but after much thinking I realize it’s Twitter, not Facebook that a Usenet/IRC concept combo would be most effective.

Not only is it really weird that Usenet has vanished into the mists of time, but IRC has, too. Now, of course, in the enterprise, Slack exists. But 20 years ago AOL was making so much money from chat rooms they were able to buy Time-Warner. So, obviously, there is a use case for what I suggest. And it makes a lot of sense, at least to me, that the next step for the Twitter space would be live chat like what we found with IRC and AOL Chat Rooms 20 years ago. But there is a real chance that AR & VR is where all the money is going to and there’s no changing that.

And, yet, a little part of me can’t help but continue to daydream. I really did love Usenet 20 years ago and it would be so much fun to have that functionality available again. There is just so much you could do with the many features that Usenet had if you updated them to modern social media expectations. But, alas, I fear it’s going to remain just a daydream. Which, at least in my opinion, is too bad.