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."

" Both Twitter clone and anti-Twitter"

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Sign up doesn't have a chance: "I hate to be the spoil-sport," but is better as an idea than a reality, says MG Siegler at Massive Greatness. Its problem is two-fold: First, Twitter already exists. Second, a user-supported service can never reach the scale of a free service like Twitter and so will never get a chance to challenge Twitter. Take a look at Google+, which is trying to be Facebook when Facebook already exists. " looks like the hero right now only because it hasn't had the opportunity to become the villain. And it probably never will."

"You either die a hero or you become the villain" wants to be bigger than Twitter: wants to be more than just an app or a Twitter alternative, says Mathew Ingram at GigaOm — it wants to be the next email. Of course, users can already send an email to anyone else on the internet using a variety of services, like Gmail or CompuServe email. doesn't want to simply be one of those service: It wants its form of short-burst communication to be the web's go-to. Good luck.

"Think is just a Twitter clone? Then you're missing the point"

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