In just a few days, Twitter is scheduled to shut down its current API. Which basically means thousands s of Twitter widgets and Twitter apps will stop working.
It’s a whole lot like Google pulling the plug on Google Reader, it spite of the outcry and pleading of their users to keep it alive.
All this makes me wonder if we are witnessing the beginnings of a fundamental shift in the internet. Google and Twitter both invited everyone to their party. They made their platforms friendly and accessible and open, and a lot of people came to play.
Twitter, in particular, offered a widget I loved as a designer. I could control every aspect of its appearance, and thus make it mesh with any website.
Because of that, I put it on a lot of websites (while avoiding Facebook’s ugly, clunky social sharing boxes like the plague).
Now, Twitter seems to have forgotten it once cared about designers. The new widget is a lot harder to work with, and while you can control some aspects of how it looks, not enough for me to be able to use it as an integral aspect of a professional quality website. And the API is getting more and more restrictive.
So what am I going to do? Be annoyed, first. And second, I’m going to let my widgets go black. I’m not going to replace them with the new ones. And that won’t teach Twitter anything, because I’m a tiny speck in the seething mass that is the internet, and plenty of people don’t care what their Twitter widget looks like.
But I do care. And I thought Twitter was the sort of company that cared about people like me. It looks like I was wrong. My only hope is there will be a huge drop in engagement over this, and Twitter will relent and at least let me control my own typefaces again. Because Twitter isn’t going anywhere, and the truth is, we’re all used to this. Most companies turn a corner and stop catering to the users that got them up and running in the first place.