UPDATE: Be sure to see Alex’s comment below for his view on this.
I am a huge fan of Twitter, regardless of what I say or ever complain about. As a developer of Twitter apps, I want to see it succeed. However, I will sound the warning bell when I see things happen that could detrimentally affect the service. A post on his personal blog today by Twitter’s API Lead, Alex Payne, has me concerned. In the post, he announces that he’s writing a book, and ironically, the book has nothing to do with Twitter development.
In the post, Alex announces he’s writing a book on a new, JVM-based language called Scala. He did a presentation on it awhile back at C4, talking about why he was supporting it and why it was a good language. Alex is a smart guy, and it would seem he’s a very appropriate author for such a book, but in his blog post he mentions nothing about what is going to happen with his work at Twitter – what are his priorities after he begins writing this book?
In development for my own site, SocialToo, I’ve dealt quite a bit with Alex, so I know he’s a hard worker. He’s answered my e-mails in the middle of the night, and even over the weekend. He’s always talking to the Twitter development list and lately seems to be doing a great job interacting with developers.
As an author of 2 books, one of them O’Reilly, I’m a bit worried Alex’s priorities may be shifting. Writing a book is no easy task, and especially not an easy task to maintain a full-time job at a very time-consuming startup that still doesn’t have its API squared away. He should expect to spend several weeks in a row, full-time, writing, editing, and re-editing the book. It’s not very easy to write a book in your spare time – he should expect his focus at Twitter to diminish. There’s no avoiding it – that’s why O’Reilly gives authors an advance, so they can support themselves during the time they are writing the book. O’Reilly has tough deadlines to get books to print in time.
So, seeing perhaps the most important player in Twitter’s API development completely shift their focus after posts like this one last week by Alex himself, I can’t help but wonder where the priorities are at Twitter and who’s actually working. Does this mean we’ll never see them open the firehose? As a Twitter developer, I’m truly worried about this announcement.