Twitter Update Might Actually Get You to Use Twitter.com

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Turns out Twitter is a website after all.

Since shortly after its launch, Twitter had seemed more like a web service. Many users, though certainly not all of them, rarely or never went to Twitter.com, using the service through third-party applications like Tweetdeck and Thwirl on their phones and computers.

But over the last year, the company has been trying to stuff the cats (i.e. users) back into its bag. First, they launched new retweet functionality that worked best on the website. Now, they've revamped Twitter.com in the largest update to the user-facing side of the site in years. In general, the changes help improve the experience, but as Peter Kafka (and others) immediately realized, the revision is likely to change Twitter's business as much as its usage.

Twitter wants to keep you on Twitter.com and the redesign seems shaped around that goal.

For you, the big change is that you can view video and pictures right on the site now. Click on the arrow to the right of a Tweet and the photo or video shows up. The same arrow allows you to find out more about the Tweeter, other people mentioned, and hashtags used. It's an elegant solution to the problem of keeping the site's feel familiar while providing new functionality.

But perhaps the most noticeable thing about the new redesign -- as pointed out by the Times' Jenna Wortham -- is all the blank space in the right toolbar. That looks to me like a great spot for some ads.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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