April 16, 2009

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Twitter Re-Educates Me On "Value"

Twitter is currently teaching me a valuable lesson in - er - value.

Whenever I try to log into the service at the moment, be it via the web site, from my mobile phone or via TweetDeck, it's 50/50 that I'll actually get a response from the site.

If I am successfully logged in, when I submit an update it's 50/50 again that it'll actually get successfully posted.

Add to that some "logic quirks" with the functionality itself and some very dodgy AJAX nonsense going on, and we have one demonstrably flakey Web 2.0

And yet current speculation from those in the know (though the crisis in our financial markets maybe suggests that these people know nothing) values Twitter at some ridiculous, astronomical figure. We're talking the GDP of a small, but developed, economy here.

I am still convinced that a team of 4-6 good developers could deliver Twitter pretty much as it is on the Google App Engine in less than a fortnight. And deliver a far more reliable and robust implementation at that.

But how does the relationship between reliability and value work in this case? It calls into question the simplistic predictable relationship - a commoditised version of "value", if you like - that we've been assuming when we talk about things like "value streams" and "sustainable delivery of value".

If Twitter runs on just a few thousand lines of code, and I suspect there's very little under the bonnet in reality - then, if the service is valued in the billions, each line of code could be carrying the weight of millions of dollars in equity.

Imagine writing a line of code knowing that! How much time and effort would put in to making it right, and into making it scale?

Except, of course, Twitter's developers had no idea when they wrote it. And neither, I suspect, do any of us when we're writing code. No idea at all.

Posted 9 years, 2 months ago on April 16, 2009