Could an ad-free Twitter replace the original?

Tweet stream looking extra noisy? Entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell is building a new pay-service that elevates the quality of conversation
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Ready for a better Twitter? Dalton Caldwell, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur, is trying to build just that. looks a lot like the original with a few key differences. The service features zero advertising and users are allowed to drone on a bit more: Twitter's 140-character limit has been expanded to a more verbose 256. What's more, the service is completely open, meaning third-party developers are free to build new services on top of it. Caldwell, whose resume includes music site iMeem and the Instagram-like Picplz, originally floated his idea in a blog post called "What Twitter Could Have Been," which outlined his disappointment with Twitter's attitude towards outside developers and the obtrusive presence of sponsored tweets. He's funding with a Kickstarter-like donations page, offering new users the handle of their choosing for $50 a pop — and his plan seems to be working. Though he originally hoped to raise $500,000 by Aug. 15, has already acquired 12,000 enthusiastic backers, amassing over $800,000 in initial funding. Could a minimalist new ad-free Twitter be the next big thing?

It's incredibly promising: I still find Twitter rewarding, but the concept of appeals, says Harry McCracken at TIME. A community built around people willing to pay "can keep the focus on users rather than trying to please advertisers," theoretically elevating the level of discourse. reminds me of BIX, one of the best social networks I ever joined (in 1988). It cost $99 a year, and was a dial-up, text-only creation. And yet, "the quality of discussion was very, very high." If approximates BIX, "I'd be thrilled."

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