Twitter, Without all the Suck

Twitter "fail whale" graphicMy initial impression of Twitter was unfavorable. It struck me then as a bad implementation of multicast IM. Maybe I should learn to trust my initial judgments.

(The term "multicast" means a single message is transmitted to multiple receivers. Most Internet applications, such as conventional IM, are unicast applications: they transmit to a single receiver.)

I remember when Twitter became a big, smash hit at the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive festival. I resisted joining for a long time. Early this year, I finally gave in.

I'm burned out on social networks. You invest all this time and effort into building your network, and six months later it's like living in the cavern of an abandoned ant colony. What a waste of time.

I originally thought Twitter would die a similar death, once the hyperventilated excitement wore off. But it didn't. In fact the popularity has continued to grow. Many of my friends are tweeting there. So, I finally resigned myself to joining.

Now that I'm there, I think I have a better idea of what I don't like about it. I see two big problems with Twitter. One of them is easily fixable. The other is endemic.

The first problem—the one that's easy to fix—is that the tweets (a single Twitter message) are displayed in a single stream. By convention, Twitter assumes that all tweeters are equal. They aren't. For instance, I'd prioritize messages from my wife @jettek way way way above @scobleizer. (Presuming that I wanted to follow Scoble, which I don't.)

Instead of a single stream, I wish I could organize my tweeters by source, just as I do with my RSS feeds. I may have one group that I want to monitor in real time. I could have a subset of that group that I want to direct to SMS. I could have entirely other groups that I'll check periodically for updates.

You could argue that in the earliest days, when Twitter was a way to communicate among friends, this wasn't needed. Now that Twitter has been taken over by the (air quotes here) social media enthusiasts, tweet prioritization is essential.

Since Twitter has an open API, I'd be very surprised if somebody doesn't implement this already. I'm using the native web page reader at the Twitter site, which doesn't.

So, that problem is easy to fix. Twitter's next problem, unfortunately, can be fixed only by throwing it away. Which I propose to do.

I'll talk about that tomorrow.

Comments

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twitter organization

I think you can organize twitter by using TweetDeck, but it does cost 30 bucks or something like that. And Scoble is a little obnoxious if you ask me.

My approach

I just keep my contact list short. I follow only two people who I haven't met in person and consider friends.

Twitter was a wonderful thing

Twitter was a wonderful thing to have to follow friends and family during Hurricane Gustav.

I have a friend in Iraq who keeps texting me to let me know he's okay. I told him he should join Twitter, but apparently the military don't allow it.

Thanks Chip for all your hard work on Holidailies. You and Jette have done an amazing job with the site and feel damn lucky to be able to participate in this project.

Conflicted about Twitter

I love the concept of twitter, but the reality is not nearly meeting it, especially since it's been around so long. A couple months ago there was a massive amount of spam accounts that were sending dozens of requests out. They fixed it, but finding help wasn't easy and there isn't a 'report abuse' feature. You can't even see a history of who you've blocked.

I would love to have a (free) means of filtering and prioritizing those I following and who gets on my homepage.

That being said, it's a great tool, especially if you do festivals. I like to be able to follow people as well as organizations, but I've stopped following several because frankly I couldn't give two figs about the 10 at a time band related tweets I've seen from some Austin orgs that I might otherwise follow. I'd follow more if I had an easy means of filtering and prioritizing.