Tag Archives: network effects

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Why use Twitter?

I played around a bit with Twitter a year or so ago, but between server hiccups and a lack of things to actually use it for, I didn’t really get into it. Now, though, I am starting to get my Twitter on. So the question is, why use twitter, especially since I gave up on it so easily a year ago?

1. Twitter fills a communication niche, one that we didn’t even know existed five years ago. It really does. There’s a whole spectrum of human communication, which can be organized from timely to timeless, from sparse to dense, from interpersonal to broadcast. Twitter falls into an interesting midpoint in that range, somewhere between instant messaging, leaving a note on the dry-erase board outside your dorm room, and heading down to the local hangout to see who’s around.

2. Twitter is a social app, so it displays classic network effects – the more people you know using it, the more valuable it is for you to use it. Working for Google and living in Silicon Valley I’ve met a lot of people over this past year who are devoted users. Twitter is good for everything from ad-hoc get-togethers to sharing in obsessive election night poll watching.

3. Twitter isn’t just an application, it’s a platform to build applications on top of. So there’s a number of apps which make Twittering more usable and effective.

  • The Twitterific iPhone App makes it easy for me to send out updates from my phone. Which I have on me at all times.
  • I’m using the Twitter Facebook app to update my status in two systems at the same time, meaning I’m more likely to make use of either.
  • Twitturly collects urls that people are talking about in almost real-time, creating a sort of incidental social news site.

Feel free to follow my twitter updates me here. Got any cool Twitter apps not listed above? Let me know in the comments below.

The information economics of price aggregation web sites


Just as the Internet has had an impact on the market for information goods and services, it has also had an impact on the information necessary for markets to function. Perfectly competitive markets, upon which models of economics are based, require four key characteristics:

  • Many sellers.
  • Nearly identical products.
  • Easy market entry (and exit).
  • Buyers and sellers have perfect information.

The last point is possibly the most difficult. Good information is hard to come by, let alone perfect information, for both buyers and sellers. Buyers are perhaps at a disadvantage, but the rise of the online marketplace and specifically price aggregating web sites has created an interesting change.

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