Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here’s What a Twitter Photo-Sharing Service Might Look Like (But It’s Probably Not a Twitter Photo-Sharing Service)

If you are a certain kind of sad person, then yesterday, in between your second serving of stuffing and first bout of regret, you learned about Magic Pics. It’s a Twitter account that promises to deliver “house-curated, artisinal [sic] pictures delivered directly to your timeline.”

This would be of interest to you, the sad person, because you would know that Magic Pics appears to be similar to Event Parrot, a Twitter-run experiment/service that delivers breaking news. It also appears to be similar to Magic Recs, a Twitter-run experiment/service that delivers recommend users and other interesting content.

It turns out that this may not be the case.

If you are a really, really sad person, then at some point last night, you noticed that Magic Pics had amended its account description to insist that is “a highly experimental bot by [Twitter engineer] @wm. Follow at your own risk!).” And that Magic Pics was now actively telling other sad people that “I am not a Twitter product. I am just a toy.”

This seems believable for several reasons. For instance, the photos that Magic Pics has been sharing have been highly … random, and not necessarily the kind of thing you would actually want to share with the world.


And Magic Pics’ arrival has not been accompanied by the kind of nudging and winking that sometimes accompanies Twitter experiments/services before Twitter officially acknowledges them.

Okay. But since we’re still typing here, let’s just posit that flagging interesting photos for people is certainly a reasonable thing for Twitter to experiment with. Just like it ought to be interested in flagging interesting videos, or songs, or … whatever.

Because pointing those things out could help existing Twitter users engage with the service. And, more important, it could help new users — the kind of users Twitter really needs right now — learn about the benefit of using the service: “Here’s the kind of cool stuff you can find when you use Twitter!”

And it’s also worth noting that Magic Pics’s delivery mechanism — “@ replies,” which appear directly in individual users’ timelines — is a much more effective way of distributing information thanTwitter’s Direct Messaging system, which is what Event Parrot and Magic Recs use. And which they will certainly move on from if Twitter is serious about turning them into mainstream products.

So it won’t be surprising if Magic Pics, or something like Magic Pics, ends up surfacing as an Official Twitter Experiment some day.

Maybe just not on a major American holiday.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”