The makers of TweetDeck, the popular Twitter client, have unveiled a new fully-integrated system to extend tweets past Twitter’s 140-character limit and into infinity. The new service, called Deck.ly is now baked-in to the TweetDeck desktop, Chrome, and Android clients with specially-made iPad and iPhone apps on the way.
Deck.ly works by creating a separate webpage for each tweet over 140 characters. This gives users the freedom to write as much as they want, even embed media (videos, etc.), and still share the information through Twitter’s hyper-connected network. Deck.ly is also seamlessly integrated into TweetDeck clients. Users simply type as much as they want and receive a warning once they pass 140 characters informing them that Deck.ly has been activated.
TweetDeck users will see these longer posts in the application as full-sized posts, non-users will see the beginning of the tweet with a deck.ly link they can follow to see the entire messsage. Also, since they operate outside Twitter’s framework, all Deck.ly pages will be publicly accessible.
Though other tweet-lengthening services have existed for some time, the seamless integration and wide user base puts Deck.ly in a class all its own, and may have wider implications for Twitter users.
When Twitter was first launched, the 140 character limit was intended to make integration with non-smartphones easier through SMS text messaging. With the growth of smartphones and a robust web-based API, the limit has become less about text message integration and more about the poetics of a 140 character limitations. Reducing thoughts to 140 characters has become something of an artform for users, which can now be easily (almost accidentally) circumvented.
From a growth standpoint, Deck.ly stands to be areal boon for TweetDeck. The ease of reading and writing these longer posts for TweetDeck users will likely drive some traffic towards the already popular client. The Deck.ly URLs will surely raise further awareness of client among non-users.
The achilles heel of Deck.ly may prove to be how the pages are publicly accessible, which will certainly drive the more privacy conscious users away. However, ease of use is sure to go a long way for snaring new users. Also, extending past the bite-sized 140-character chunks might simply bore users used to having their messages in discrete tweets.
By removing Twitter’s character cap, it almost begs the question of who is actually running these social networks. Though the distribution network is still owned by the existing services, but by changing the rules and incentivizing the freedom of using their client, TweetDeck is making a bid to be at the center of your social networking universe. As alluded to in their blog post, TweetDeck sees a blurring of lines between social networks with TweetDeck as the great equalizer between it all. All messaging — Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.– all become one within TweetDeck. As Google has positioned itself to be the default portal to the Internet, TweetDeck is almost certainly looking to do the same for the ever-growing landscape of social networking.
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