Home Comment of the Day: All We Are Saying is Give Twine a Chance…

Comment of the Day: All We Are Saying is Give Twine a Chance…

Today Marshall Kirkpatrick posted a less than favorable review of Twine, the semantic web knowledge management system that is currently in private beta. Marshall made some great points; and ultimately his post will serve as both excellent feedback for Twine’s developers and a wakeup call that this Semantic Web stuff is hard. However Twine should also be encouraged that a couple of their early beta users jumped to the product’s defence.

One of them, David Scott Lewis, pleaded: “Marshall, don’t give up on Twine. Just watch it, pledge to write another review in July and then another in December. You’ll become a true believer over time.”

Congratulations David, you’ve won a $30 Amazon voucher – courtesy of our competition sponsors AdaptiveBlue and their Netflix Queue Widget.

Update: David, please contact editor at readwriteweb.com with your real email address 🙂

Update 2: Twine founder Nova Spivack has written a response to our post on his blog.

Here is David’s full comment:

“Marshall, Marshall, Marshall. You’re a great writer, generally right on top of things. Matter of fact, of the Web 2.0 A-list bloggers, you’ve demonstrated the most knowledge of the Semantic Web. You even get — which few do — that recommenders are an important part of a comprehensive solution.

This being said, you’re way off on Twine. First, you’ve been on Twine only since March 7th. Second, you have only three connections, Rafe, Nova (their CEO) and yours truly. As a result, you haven’t had a chance to explore Twine for social knowledge sharing. Third, you’ve subscribed to only three Twines. That’s it!! You did choose two of the most active Twines, but you didn’t explore how Twine can be used beyond geekdom. In contrast to what Gabe has tried to do, Digg, et al, Twine has a lot of value when exploring broader topics. See the China, Public Policy, and Futures Twines as three examples. Honestly, you need to get a lot more engaged before you can really comment. At this point, you’ve had minimal engagement. And, as you know, I’m the MOST engaged private beta tester, so I believe I’m in a good position to make an objective observation. (Remember, I was a VP-level analyst at META. So I have the street cred for making objective observations on emerging technologies; I’m not just some blogger or the like.)

In fact, here in Qingdao (China) we’re starting to use Twine as a combination social network + social bookmarking site + threaded online discussion group + wiki. We have two groups that are slowly getting engaged with Twine. One is a local ecumenical Christian fellowship for expats, the other (which is much more active at this point) is for the de facto Chamber of Commerce for Westerners living in Qingdao. Although we haven’t rolled out Twine for the general membership, the “Chamber” Executive Committee has adopted Twine as its key communications and knowledge sharing tool. Matter of fact, the head (yes, THE head) of one of the largest U.S. operations in China is getting addicted to Twine … as is his wife!! We’ve even had the 17 year old adopted daughter of one of our local Kiwis start a Twine which already has among the most members. Started four or so days ago, it’s already among the top dozen or so Twines. (It’s the Connecting People Together Twine.) And I’ve even created a TUG (Twine Users Group) for Qingdao which I’ll officially launch after we’ve had a chance to roll out Twine to at least a few hundred fellow expats … and we’ll likely follow with a TUG in Shanghai, too.

To be very frank, I was personally concerned about rolling out Twine to media types such as yourself. It’s not ready for prime time, but nobody ever said it was. It’s in PRIVATE beta. Hand holding helps … and I’ve done a lot of hand holding. But I’m also dealing with a crowd that has NO IDEA what social bookmarking is, what a wiki is. Yet, I/we have demonstrated that Twine has a great deal of utility for newbies; it’s not just for semweb geeks.

Unfortunately, you entered Twine just when the UI changed. This was bad timing. The new UI should have been rolled out to the existing private beta testers BEFORE (and NOT concurrently) with letting in selected media personalities. I concur that the UI needs some work, as does the daily e-mail Digest. Hey, it’s a work in progress.

But, Marshall, the core tech underneath Twine’s hood is what really matters, is the power (and competitive advantage) for Twine. The UI can be improved. I’ve already seen a lot of improvement in the UI; it will get a lot easier to use.

Without being modest, I can tell you that there are two power users of Twine: Myself and Hrafn Thorisson. (If you check the Explore page, you’ll see this.) Both of us are extremely active in two private Twines, the Product Community and Evangelism Twines. We also have a lot of direct discourse with Nova — “direct” as is by private e-mail. I can tell you first hand that Nova and his team (Peter, Scott, Chris, Jim, James) are highly responsive to our suggestions. Don’t be too concerned: When someone needs to piss on Twine, we do the pissing. But they clean up the mess, make Twine better. And they respond in fairly short order, too. Hey, not everything can be changed overnight. Changes, however, do happen on a fairly frequent basis, more so than in any other beta I’ve been part of.

Marshall, don’t give up on Twine. Just watch it, pledge to write another review in July and then another in December. You’ll become a true believer over time. BTW, feel free to contact me if you want to toss around any ideas, need uber user feedback. My contact info is on my Twine profile page; don’t use the e-mail address that I provide for my R/WW comments. Thanks!!”

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