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Filtering Information & New Idea for

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Robert Scoble (who’s on Twitter about 24 hours a day) did an interesting post about how he uses Twitter today – after he unfollowing a whole lot of people and shutting down his autofollow-bot he still follows about 2k people (about 1300+ that he met and 600+ that he’s interested in). This is one of his accounts that he uses for the “filtered information flood” as I’d call it. All people he follows are from a certain area of expertise that he’s interested in most or people that he’s met and therefore might be interested in their tweets. These people he met are also followed by Scoble on another account.

Scoble tells us that he switches Twitter clients pretty often, and therefore can better filter information by following a certain target group with different accounts. And he also tells us that its pretty impossible to read the tweets of 90000 people anyways.

I must say that I think the same way. But I don’t have time to be on twitter everyminute of the day (as Scoble and some other “Social Media Guru Expert Evangelists”), so I even have to filter some more. First, I took my ithoughts_de account and only followed people I like to read and who tweet interesting stuff. As I don’t have too much time and don’t want to clutter my timeline with people who tweet way too often (like Scoble) or only tweet a lot of completely pointless stuff (like Ashton Kutcher or Tila Tequila), those get removed rapidly. Following 250+ people is pretty easy to keep up with, if you look for the filtered information of the day. This is the source of knowledge, that will always instantly tell you important stuff – much earlier than official magazines or websites. No matter what, I still get a lot of information in there, so I can’t always be on that account when I want to use my time effectively.

Therefore I set up a protected account for myself, where I only follow people I know personally (one exception). Here in germany Twitter STILL didn’t break through to the usual webuser, so these are only six people (if you leave out doubleaccounts). That I’m pretty sure that only friends can read it lets me also dump my own pointless stuff without much information value there AND I can use it for communication. I also use this account with my iPhone, so if I make a pointless TwitPic I won’t scare away my ithoughts_de followers (that I believe are there for the good links I find and share).

After all, I also set up a follower-bot thats nicely working in the background to build up followers slowly with 3.4k followers atm. You never know when you wanna have that audience around (that might mainly be bots, but who cares – sometimes also numbers count).

New Idea for

I think if you know about Twitter you could also drive this to the extreme and make different accounts even for different topics of interest. Every account could follow some special breed of people and you could tweet your links to the group of people who follow your account dedicated to that single topic. In facts, this is one of the features that twitter should integrate into (premium?) accounts: using their REST approach they could let you divide your stream into topics and also let you assign your friends (the people you follow are called ‘friends’ on twitter) to that topic. This topic-centered URL would look like instead of just and you also wouldn’t have to set up 100 accounts then. A nice drag-and-drop webinterface could let you customize your topics and sort your friends in there and you could decide if you follow a person or only one (or more) of his or her topics. Some microsyntax like “§topicjava I found a nice Java-related article that I want to share” could work for older twitterclients while Twitter expands their API by one more parameter called ‘topic’, so updated clients could directly post messages into topics.

If you like this idea, please share it on Twitter … lets hope someone at Twitter sees it. They could also do this thingy for their premium accounts. *cough cough … I didn’t say that you must be mistaken*

4 thoughts on “Filtering Information & New Idea for

  1. So you basically want to tag the people you follow and you want to be able to send a message to all people tagged in a certain way?
    I guess the problem would be simplicity: People use twitter cause it’s simple. If you give people too many options that defeats the purpose and most people don’t have the problem you are talking about.
    Just say you follow 200 people. Do you really want to spend all the time to tag them in order to sort their posts? And whenever you add a new tag you have to reconsider all the people you follow again to see if they fit into it.
    So I think for twitter’s usecase this idea isn’t feasible. does it the other way around: you can add yourself to a “group” (say “Java”) and you can send groupposts (with “!java”) to reach all people that tagged themselves with a certain word (cause groups are kinda like you tagging yourself). It’s not exactly what you suggested but I think it’s simple enough for it to work: You just pick a few groups that you are interested in and get filtered content on those topics.

  2. @tante: Not really. I want to be able to tag my own tweets with a topic. Not using #topic, but one of the topics that I can set on twitter. When you’d follow me, you could click the follow button or the small “only topics” button. That would open a small form with all my topics and checkboxes for it with a button like “only follow these topics”. Therefore I could tag my own tweets with a topic so it only goes out to people who want to have it – or who want my entire feed. Untagged topics would fall into some “no topic”-category, so you can also get the usual blahblah while leaving out the unnerving Java-stuff that you don’t want to hear anything about.

    After all, Twitter’s business is broadcasting A LOT OF information. Using a good way to tag your post besides using #topic would really help like everyone who uses it more than once a day. It also wouldn’t be too unobtrusive and would give at least these additional advantages:

    1. you can set your topics as you can now set your bio. Everyone can see it and better understand what you like to post about. This is more straightforward that reading the bio.

    2. You could better filter what you really want to listen to. Better filtering = more fun with microblogging.

    3. You could get the feed of the topics of one person without having to search through his whole tweetwaste. If you see like “Whoa very interesting python-stuff he tweets about every 20 tweets” you could browse through his python-topic.

    4. Nobody had to use it. Everyone could use Twitter the way it works now. Even the API-usage wouldn’t change if you only want the old function. Say: It degrades gracefully.

  3. Ok, so if I just listen to 4 of your predefined tags what happens if you create a new one? Do I get those or not? Do I get a message every time somebody adds/deletes/renames a tag?

    Do those “I tag my own message” things count towards the 140 character limit?

    Can I also “Listen to everything from X except for tagY? If so, why not just use normal hashtags and allow people filtering their whole content based on it?

    Do “@replies” override those tags (as in if I block everything from you with tagY can you send me “@teetante look at #taxY!” and I get it)?

    If I block all things of you with “tagY” but listen to everything with “tagZ” will I get the message “#tagY #tagZ” ?

    And finally (though you might disagree on this one): Isn’t part of the value microblogs bring the fact that you get some things that are not directly in your interests but that are from people you generally find interesting? It’s kinda how works: It suggests music to you that people listened to that have something in common with you, but the suggested music might be something you would have never dreamed about listening to yourself. That is part of the value.

    Just a few thoughts.

  4. Well I’m not part of Twitter-TheCompany, so this idea is not production-ready … but I’ll try to give my solutions to these ;-)

    1. No, you don’t get a message. If you visit his page you can just look it up or the Twitterclients implement their own customizable understanding of what to do when something in the Tags changes. I bet if this would become available, you could get E-Mails about such changes from external services.

    2. Yes / No. Yes if your client doesn’t use the new API-element. No if you use the Twitter-web interface, where you just select from checkboxes which topic the tweet belongs to. And no if your client uses the new API-parameter for describing the topic.

    3. @replies in Twitter always override unless you really block a user. But I guess it wouldn’t make much sense to block a topic, it would be unintuitive and contraproductive as blocking effectively means that its a spammer you block, so that option shouldn’t exist. So you’d get a Tweet from a topic that you don’t follow as you always get tweets with @replies, even when you’re not following a user.

    4. As under 3., yes.

    5. Its only an option. You’re free to follow anyone as you did before. BUT IF you realize, that someone talks about very interesting stuff about a certain topic that interests you – while talking a whole bunch of crap in between – it gives you the option to filter. If you’re interested in the crap too, you can just follow that person.

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