First Week of Twine Beta Phase II Report

This week we began letting the second wave of beta users into the Twine invite-only beta. It’s been a very busy and exciting time for the Twine team. I’ll be providing more detailed stats on an ongoing basis in a few weeks once we have more data to analyze. For now, I will just provide some qualitative observations.

Twine is still in the early beta process, but already we are seeing a rapid increase in adoption and scale. We have only let in a few hundred more users to get the process started, but we will be letting more and more in every week as we go forward.

It has been really exciting to watch Twine grow. I find that I am increasingly glued to my Interest Feed watching the fascinating information that is flowing through from all the new members. There have been many new twines created around a wide and growing range of interests and large amount of content added. The recommendations are also quite interesting — I have already discovered a wide range of new people, twines and content that I didn’t know about.

As of this writing, I now have 157 social connections in Twine. My social network in Twine has doubled in size in a week and is rapidly approaching the size of my Facebook network. That’s pretty impressive considering this happened in a week (it took about half a year for my Facebook network to grow to that size).

We also had our first outside Twine client app, called "Entwine," written spontaneously by a beta user — it browses through the RDF data from various items in Twine. That was very cool and unexpected! It really got the team jazzed to see this happen.

Twine is now full of active discussions around interests, questions, ideas, suggestions, current events, technologies and products. I have been pleasantly surprised to see so much interaction among users develop so quickly. As we had hypothesized, discussions are turning out to be a very key feature.

We have received a lot of great feedback from beta users within Twine, as well as many suggestions for how to improve Twine, streamline the user experience, and integrate Twine with other applications and services. This is exactly what we had hoped for from our beta. The team is hard at work analyzing this and prioritizing our next development sprints in light of what we are learning from our users (we do minor releases every week and major ones every 3 weeks).

Most of the press reviews and user stories point to Twine being very exciting, useful and full of potential, which has been great to hear after so much work — they also universally agree that we still have room to improve the user experience and we need to work on making Twine easier to learn and use. That’s not unexpected — we opened the beta well before the app is finished in order to understand user priorities better. We are really focusing on usability and bug fixes for the next several sprints.  All this feedback has been incredibly valuable to the team. Keep it coming!

Another interesting observation. The quality of the users in Twine is distinctly impressive. It’s a very smart community of leading-edge thinkers, builders, and technology adopters. Kind of like having your own TED Conference, 24/7 around the world. We will be inviting in a wider range of users in later phases, once the app is further along. In the meantime it is really great to see so many of my colleagues in Twine, and to be making so many new contacts and friends here. For this initial phase this is exactly the audience we need — people who will really roll up their sleeves and help us make Twine into a great application.

Twine is also rapidly aggregating most of the leading minds in the worldwide Semantic Web development and research community into a social and collaborative interest network. It is great to have this global community of people interested in building and using the Semantic Web come together in Twine, an application that is built using Semantic Web technologies on the Radar Networks Semantic Web Applications platform. I look forward to beginning to share Twine with this worldwide community, and to collaborate with others to extend it and integrate it with other semantic apps and data sets. This is definitely our goal.

It’s been a great week. I haven’t slept much. I’m having too much fun in Twine!