Chris Messina on Twitter ‘Tracking’ and #Hashtags

It looks like Twitter has been quitely upgraded, and includes a new feature:

[from Tracking Twitter]


Today we’re releasing a tiny feature to do just that, and we’re calling it “tracking.” If you’ve set up your phone or IM on Twitter, you can send a command like:

track NYC

When someone (anyone who updates in public) mentions “NYC,” you’ll get it on your device in real-time. From there you can send “whois username” to find out more about that person, or “follow username” to follow his or her updates. Don’t want to receive anymore about NYC? Toggle it off with:

untrack NYC

You can create as many of these as you want, so send “track drinking tea”, “track iphone”, “track walking san francisco” and you’ll receive matches for all. Want to get a list of what you’re currently tracking? Send “track” alone (or “stats”). Turn them all off by sending “track off”.

We love this technology, and hope you do too. We’re continuing to refine and play with it, so please send your feedback!

What will you track?

So this lines up with Chris Messina’s #hashtags, in a way, since I could track interesting #hastags. But, a few questions:

  1. Why not on the basic interface? Why only on IM or SMS?
  2. I don’t necessarily want to be alerted, I want a place to go look, or an account that I can subscribe to.

#Hashtags are declarative and imply a community. If I tag things with ’#travels’ I would expect there to be a place where I can see the aggregated stream of all people’s posts with ’#travels’ in it. But I don’t necessarily want to see every post with the word ‘travels’ in it, do I?

I think they need to rethink this a bit.

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