Saturday, February 06, 2016

And There Was Much Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

Twitter seems to be all a twitter this morning about Twitter's supposed plans to launch a new algorithmic feed.

I am one of those active Twitter users myself—I far prefer it to Facebook, Instagram, and anything else, and it's the place I turn first to see what's going on out in the world.  And I think this algorithmic feed might be a good idea, and the reason is simple: it's sort of how I use Twitter today anyway.

Which is to say that I use Tweetdeck, not the regular Twitter browser application, which lets you have multiple columns open at the same time with different filters and lists determining what tweets they show. In the left most column I have a list that's filtered to a select group of people I follow whose Tweets I don't miss, to the right of that my unfiltered "Home" feed (that is, all the tweets from everyone I follow unfiltered as they roll out into the world), and to the right of that multiple columns filtered to search for various terms I'm interested in.

I find it very useful to have an algorithm (albeit a very basic one I created myself) to filter tweets for me because that main feed is just too damn crowded and I'll miss the good stuff if I just read it. I read through  the "can't miss" list first, then once I read all those (and clear the column), I'll dip into the "main line" to sort of see serendipitously what the moment brings.

If what Twitter comes up with can replicate this experience—ensuring you see the tweets you don't want to miss while also maintaining the randomness and serendipity of the unfiltered chronological feed, then it might make Twitter appeal to more people.

Or it might be the end of the world as we know it and won't we all be sorry . . .

(By the way, does Facebook have an alternative application that power users use to interact with it? Plenty of 3rd party social media utilities, but I don't think Facebook actually owns one, do they?)

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