Mike Isaac

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Twitter’s Developer Event Will Deal With Cards

Like I said before: The future of Twitter’s platform is all in the cards.

Twitter plans to introduce a new set of mobile-focused features to third-party developers at an event at the company’s San Francisco headquarters next week, making it easier for outsiders to create and fill the Twitter-verse with higher-quality content.

The crux of the event is focused on Twitter’s “Cards” technology, according to sources familiar with the matter. Cards are essentially a way for third parties to incorporate rich multimedia — article snippets, video and images — inside of tweets themselves, instead of only including text-based links.

At the event, Twitter plans to announce additional types of Cards beyond the three that third parties currently have available, according to sources. The aim, Twitter will argue, is to help app developers incorporate their content into the tweets themselves, which will help drive traffic back to developers’ applications.

Since the company debuted the feature last year, Twitter Cards have slowly rolled out to select big-brand partners, and then subsequently to smaller organizations after completing an application and review process. Twitter will continue to encourage developers to incorporate the Cards technology into outside apps, and continue to ask developers to apply for the program.

I pinged Twitter to ask for more details, but the company had nothing to share with me.

The initiative is one of a series of moves for Twitter’s grand developer platform plan, as the company aims to create a full ecosystem of rich media content on the service. Over the past year, the company has moved beyond simply providing a stream full of text to users, making the service more visually oriented. The rationale is simple — people engage with and click more on rich, visual content. It’s true for Facebook, and it’s true for Twitter. So pushing outsiders to provide more of that content and push it into Twitter’s stream is definitely good for Twitter’s long-term engagement prospects on the whole.

As Twitter will argue next week, it’s not just good for Twitter. Developers who build tweeting options into their apps, and subsequently include the Cards technology in those tweets, have a much better shot at distributing their applications to a wider audience. Right now, small-time developers are stuck buried inside Apple’s App Store or Google Play, making it difficult to gain users.

Currently, I’d say Twitter isn’t necessarily viewed as the go-to social platform for app distribution. Facebook, on the other hand, has made a massive pitch to third-party developers over the past year, asking them to not only build apps atop the Facebook platform, but also to use Facebook’s mobile application installation advertisement products — basically a way of paying Facebook to promote your app — in order to increase distribution. I’ve heard those ads work fairly well for developers who are using them.

Twitter doesn’t want Facebook to be seen as the only social platform for app distribution.

So yes, it’s sorta nerdy stuff, and no, it’s not an earth-shattering announcement. But it’s still another small step for the company on the road to creating a more robust, developer-friendly platform.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work