Friday, March 28, 2008

Underwhelmed by Twine

Twine Back in October, I wrote about the press launch of Twine, the semantic web application which was going to conquer the world. I finally snagged an invitation to the beta (thanks Tony), and have been playing with it for a few days.

Twine is young and it needs time to grow. At present, it's underpopulated and lacks content. But there's a more serious problem. Twine was touted as a web 3.0 application. But it isn't, it's just another social network. Frankly, I'm underwhelmed. Call me Mr Thicky, but what does Twine do that StumbleUpon doesn't? Yes, Twine has some wiki-like functions - but who needs another wiki? The people who seem to like Twine say things like "I never really liked", and that's fine, but for me, is where my social network is, and my network drives, in exactly the same way that the networks will eventually drive Twine. Web 3.0 (when it arrives) is going to be so much more than this. Whatever Twine is, it's not web 3.0 - more like web 2.1. To be really useful, Twine would need to aggregate rather than Balkanize social networks, and link Alun's archaeology stuff from Ma.gnolia with Pownce with JayJay's comms stuff from and Twitter. I can do that with FriendFeed, but it's not "semantic". So what is Twine adding?

If Twine is going to survive (and the web 2.0 crash is coming, before the end of 2008 - November, if not before, would be my rash guess), it needs to come out of invitation-only beta, and quickly, so it can bulk up. But frankly, I don't care, because I have some better and more semantic than Twine right now. That's the networks I have been cultivating, fertilizing and pruning on and more recently on Twitter. I'll reserve my final judgment on Twine for a while to see how it develops, but frankly, it looks like an uphill struggle to me.

(I have two spare Twine invitations if anyone wants one)
All gone!


  1. I would love a Twine invitation if you still have one. :)

  2. Response from Nova Spivack,
    Hey Alan -- saw your review. Sorry you were not that impressed. You raise some good points about where Twine needs to improve -- particularly around adding support for external data and accounts (we are working on that). However I'm not sure I agree that StumbleUpon does everything Twine does. For example, have you tried post by email in Twine and the ability to add document attachments, the auto-tagging, and semantic search? Also did you try bookmarking an Amazon book or product and looking at what you get in Twine? This is really just the beginning for us as you point out but we have a lot planned (including del.ici.ous and Facebook and Friendfeed integration among others). Stay tuned and I hope you will be suitably impressed this summer...

  3. Thanks for contacting me. I'll be keeping an eye on Twine - good luck with the site.

  4. I'd like to try it, if you still have the invite available

  5. Hi AJC,

    Yeah, I'm prodding Twine with a stick at the moment.

    I think two separate, orthogonal, technologies that can help with information discovery are collective intelligence and semantic intelligence. The semantic stuff is very nascent. I'm interested in Twine due to it being based in a triple store. If they made that available and traversable through an API that would be cool.

    The issue you raise about critical mass is a good one, but I think that talks more to the collective intelligence side.

    To have both of course would be the best option, and indeed Yahoo! are working towards the semantification of their search results, and I am sure Twine will work towards the extension of their network.

    I am non-plussed by the term Web 3.0, for too many reasons to write here, I don't see any significant paradigm shift. I think the next paradigm shift will be when computers are no longer our main interface to the information on the web, and I don't even mean handhelds, but rather what were before non-digital artifacts. Everything else is going to be much the same until then.

    - Ian

  6. Thanks Ian. If you get the blogging from Twine sorted out to your satisfaction, please could you write it up somewhere as I'd be interested in taking another look, as I'm sure many people would.

  7. Will do,

    though it might take a while, as I don't post that often, that's why my personal blog is called "partially attended" ;)

    - Ian