Maybe I’m late to this game, but in a post describing the design decisions behind the new retweet functionality, Evan Williams articulates the Twitter mission in a way I had never heard before:
This last point [the need to have structured data around retweets] is not obvious but is particularly important for fulfilling Twitter’s goal of helping you discover the information that matters most to you as quickly as possible. Part of the beauty of Twitter is that you can follow your friends, organizations, public figures, or strangers you find interesting. The perfect Twitter would show you only the stuff you care about–relevant, timely, local, funny, whatever you’re most interested in–even if you don’t follow the person who wrote it. And, of course, it would give you ultimate, fine-grained control in how to do so. We want to give you more ways to help the good stuff bubble to the top.
This is interesting to me for a few reasons. First, and most obvious, it puts them in direct competition with Google’s stated mission of “organizing the world’s information.” Second, I’ve been fairly obsessed with the concept of discovery and agree that, at this point, Twitter is just about the best discovery engine (as opposed to search engine) that we’ve got. With that said, I have some serious worries about Twitter only showing the stuff I care about because it implies that it’s only going to show me that which I already care about, which to me kills much of the value of the serendipitous nature of Twitter.