Twitter’s Innovation in Assembly

Twitter's Innovation in Assembly

Being as one of the ten most visited websites on the internet, Twitter has rapidly gained its global popularity soon after it was launched in July 2006. The success of Twitter has been widely studied and discussed about how it aligns with web2.0 principles. One thing to look at is how Twitter effectively turns its website into a platform, and fosters the innovation and evolution through the power of network and community.

As web2.0 mindset promotes data to be re-useable, it creates opportunities for companies to simply integrate and merge applications or services provided by others, and generate better outcome than the product standalone.

The web2.0 principle, “innovation in assembly” is described by Tim O’Reilly as

When commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways.

Let’s see how Twitter utilizes a set of great practices to fully elaborate this principle:

    • Twitter offers API to its platform:

      Twitter’s growth can be attributed to Twitter API which not only allows the service to be further expanded to mobile platform, but also encourages external programmers to build an API upon it and create additional value to it. (Examples of APIs built on Twitter API: Klout API and Topsy.

    • For better development: Data remixability and support multiple standards

      Twitter introduced a new rule in August 2012, which makes the per-endpoint rate limits more restrictive and ensures that all API requests must be authenticated. Data remixability can be realized when data is uniquely addressable and supports multiple formats and delivery mechanisms (Twitter API supports XML, JSON, and the RSS and Atom syndication formats.)

    • Great API practices for the developer community:

      Twitter successfully created a well-structured developer support infrastructure which fosters an active community for programmers to exchange ideas and collaborate more efficiently. Full documentation, sample code in multiple development languages are provided within the infrastructure as well.

    • Build your business model into you API

      Twitter’s API focuses on how to make the service available to users through different platform and access ways. Its core Twitter API even made the service reach users through mobile platform before the production of Twitter mobile app.

    • Use Web 2.0 to support your platform

      Twitter applied Web 2.0 practices such as “reward users first” by minimizing the barriers of adoption and fully “utilizing network effects” to build a vibrant ecosystem.

    • Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty

      Twitter applied REST API methods allow developers to access core Twitter data. This includes update timelines, status data, and user information. The Search API methods give developers methods to interact with Twitter Search and trends data.

    • Learn from how your customers remix

      Twitter’s official iPhone application started from an external developer’s project, by which sufficiently illustrates how Twitter learn and adopt ideas from its users.

What’s more?

After the release of Twitter REST API v1.1 last September, the company has announced to retire API v.1 in March 2013, by which all unauthenticated client-side API calls will not be supported and other older widget users should switch to its Embedded timeline. Followed by the retirement of Twitter API v.1, TwitterDeck AIR and TwitterDeck Android/iPhone will be discontinued soon.

In response to those changes, Twitter promises its users a fast, feature-rich web –based application for modern browsers and a chrome app:

Twitter regards this action as “a reflection of where our TweetDeck power-users are going.” And in the future, all new capabilities will be introduced on this web-based application first, then Mac and PC apps.


Twitter API changes kill off Tweetdeck apps, GMA News, March 5, 2013
An update on TweetDeck, by Twitter TweetDeck Team, March 4, 2013

5,000 APIs: Facebook, Google and Twitter Are Changing the Web, Adam DuVander, February 6, 2012
Twitter’s Other Ecosystem: Twitter-derived APIs Double in One Year, Adam DuVander, May 26, 2011
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Launches Social Ads Platform For Twitter With New Twitter Ads API, Michael Lazerow, Feb 20 2013 
What’s Driving Twitter’s API Changes?, Bob Fine, September 7, 2012
First Look at Twitter’s New Ads API, Geoff Simon, March 11, 2013 


How Second life Harness Collective Intelligence


I was attending a virtual lecture offered by Stanford University, then the next second I teleported myself to a spectacular 3D medieval castle created by users like me; wondering if I should purchase the dress I just saw in a virtual shop and have my hair done for the upcoming party tonight. And all these activities are taken place in the 3D virtual platform, Second Life.

As described clearly in Tim O’Reilly‘s book, Web2.0 Principles and Best Practices,
customer contribution is one of the six key market drivers of Web 2.0. And the core pattern related to customer contribution is successfully harnessing collective intelligence.

Being designed to be non-linear and to immensely depend on collective intelligence, Second Life has effectively attracted and built a huge global user base with a focus on providing user-generated, community-driven experience.

Basically, almost all the objects in Second Life including buildings, plants, landscape and even clothes and avatars, are created or modified by users like you and me. All the contents are generated, maintained and enjoyed by every user with high degree of control. The platform developer, Linden Lab, assures that users retain the copyright for any content they create, and the contents can even be traded using virtual currency in Second Life.

Being launched since 2003, Second Life has sufficiently illustrated how to harness and magnify collective intelligence by applying the following practices:

  1. Reward the user first

    First of all, Second Life has minimized the hassle of adoption to new beginners. Registration only takes two steps by selecting desired avatar and inputting basic personal details. Though users still need to download and install the 3D software to launch Second Life, the process is far more easier comparing to other games or websites.

  2. Set network effects by default

    All the contents generated in Second life are byproducts of users pursuing their self-interests: fashion designers seeking a space to showcasing their works, and even gaining rewards; architects can easily build up their dream buildings beyond the limitation of reality; amateur musicians host their own concerts and release virtual albums, etc. Through event highlights and community, individual user’s impact has further been maximized and enhanced.

  3. Involve users explicitly and implicitly

    Second Life has created a virtual platform for users to contribute both explicitly and implicitly. Either you can be an active participant by constantly produce meaningful contents, such as running a virtual shop selling your creations or hosting interesting events. Or you can simply be a user, by participating or even just browsing the virtual activities, you still contribute to this virtual community implicitly.

  4. Provide a meaningful context for creation

    The main motivation for users to actively generate something in Second Life is the desire of self-expression. Users can achieve their dreams or try out the possibility with lower cost and risk than in their real lives. Second Life has successfully created the space for imagination and inspiration.

  5. Trust your users: share control

    Second Life users enjoy high degree of control over every aspect, from virtual property design to the movement of avatar. Linden Scripting Language allows users to add interactivity to the objects while most of the contents can even been made by external softwares and imported into Second Life.

  6. Facilitate emergence

    As a result of investors meeting, the collaborative and creative potential has shifted the initial Second Life from object-driven, game-focus, to a more user-generated and community-driven platform.


1. What Is Web 2.0-Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software, by Tim O’Reilly, 30/09/2005

2. “Collective Intelligence”, by Pierre Levy, Michael Nielsen, May 23, 2010

3. Collaboration and Collective Intelligence, summary of international conference, MIT5, April 27, 2007

4. How Facebook Graph Search might affect Second Life Residents, by Strawberry Singh, February 7, 2013

5. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage, by Axel Bruns