By now, you’ve no doubt read multiple posts on Twine opening to the public with version 1.0. Though breaking news isn’t my strong suit, I have a special affinity for Twine and had to put in my two cents.
I’ve been using Twine for over a year now and wrote about its beta launch back in March. In that post, I called it “an incredibly deep, incredibly smart app that hasn’t yet found its ultimate form,” and said that “in order to ‘get’ Twine, you need to jump into it with both feet and play around.” The former statement still holds true, though version 1.0 takes several big steps in a positive direction. The latter, though, is completely off the table with this launch, a fact that will no doubt take the product further into the mainstream.
There is no longer a barrier to entry with Twine, as there is with so many other online services. I mentioned in a recent unrelated post that “users don’t get the value [of a service] without a large circle of connections and you don’t gain connections without a deep level of involvement.” There is no such problem with the new Twine, which shows you value almost immediately, without signing up. Just plug in a few interests on the homepage and Twine builds your interest feed. Theoretically, one wouldn’t even have to sign up for Twine to get some value out of it; use it as a search engine on steroids. But that would leave its real value on the table, ignoring its ability to organize your content in ways no other service today can.
Chris Morrison at VentureBeat wrote an excellent piece on Twine today, calling it a “modern-day Dewey Decimal System.” For a detailed description of how exactly Twine works, I recommend Chris’ piece, but his Dewey Decimal label gets right at the heart of the site’s real potential. Yes, at its most basic, it’s a bookmarking service, but the broader view reveals a mass categorization and organization system that requires little effort from the user.
Ultimately, I’d like to see Twine as one giant repository for online content – almost another level of the Internet. And that’s not unachievable either, when you consider the services that could plug into Twine. Let’s say that Twine develops plug-ins/partnerships with Facebook, MySpace and other walled-garden environments. You’d still interact socially on Facebook, play your Scrabble games and write on walls. But you would also have at your fingertips in Twine every note, status update, photo, and chat, automatically tagged and categorized and easily searchable. Say you’re planning a trip to Italy and are able to use Twine to find relevant content submitted by other users, alongside personal anecdotes from your Facebook friends. Read the travel article on top restaurants in Italy and see your best friend’s pictures from her Italian honeymoon, all in one place. I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, as walled-garden integration is obviously not available in Twine’s current version. But I’m trying to lay the groundwork for where I think Twine could go, an important point for many who still don’t ‘get’ the service.
The path to an “a-ha” moment in Twine looks different for each user. Mine came with my private Twine, into which I dump notes on startups I meet with. I need to recall companies, people and technologies quickly in daily conversations and there aren’t any services that know my content as Twine does. My key complaint here is that I want the search refinement to improve. It’s not wholly intuitive, can be a bit slow, and I’d like more filter choices. But even with those nits, I’m still able to zero in on the precise information I need. And as a bonus, I also get other applicable articles, comments and conversations from which to draw.
Twine continues to innovate on an impressive trajectory and even more feature upgrades are planned for the next several months. As you delve further into the service and watch its tagging capabilities, think about the other online services you use frequently and what that content would look like in Twine. It could mean a whole new era in information interaction online.