Twitter developer discovers what it’s like to use Twitter, experiences the developer-user gap

wow people on twitter are mean

In a series of unintentionally hilarious tweets that sound more like something from an Onion article than real life, Brandon Carpenter, an iOS developer at Twitter, is getting an object lesson in what Twitter is like for the people who actually use it on a regular basis.

A quick look at his Twitter stream shows that he’s neither dumb nor short on empathy, but that he doesn’t post anywhere near as often as the sort of users who aren’t all that keen on the announced changes to the way the timeline is going to work. He certainly doesn’t post as often as I do, and in my circles, I’m sure I’m merely a moderate user. Working on one of the most heavily-used mobile apps on the market is a big cognitive load to carry, and I suspect that along with being a husband, dad, and someone who has to pay rent in San Francisco, his Twitter experience is different from those of the people who make their day, their name, or their living using it. I call this difference in experience between the people who developer applications and its heavier users “the developer-user gap”, something captured quite well in the line from William Gibson’s Neuromancer: “The street finds its own uses for things.”

The fact that the developer-user gap exists highlights an oft-forgotten role that a technical evangelist can play. Companies try to make sure that their evangelists, community managers, social media people, and the like are sending out the right message to their customers and partners, but forget that communication can work in the opposite direction. A good evangelist will make sure that users get the message, but a great one will make sure that the users’ messages get back to the company as well.

Kudos to Brandon for taking this tweet sent to him…

…and responding with grace:

It’s often a thankless job, but as a regular user of Twitter’s iOS client, thanks for all your work, Brandon. I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!

But fire up your Twitter client and use it a little more, willya? It’ll help you make a better app.

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