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Posts tagged with ‘Twitter’

Twitter’s New Favorite: I Want Groupings, Instead

Farhad Manjoo probes Twitter’s new model for favorites, and never quite gets to the heart of the matter. But he tees it up well:

Farhad Manjoo, Save the Fav, Twitter’s Digital Body Language

There’s a kerfuffle at the moment on Twitter about what should happen when you fav something.

Until recently, when you pressed the “favorite” button on a tweet — that is, the little star below a Twitter posting — almost nothing happened. Other users, including the one who originally posted, might see that you’d starred the tweet, but Twitter’s “favorite” was different from the “like” button on Facebook. It wasn’t taken to mean that you actually liked or were interested in the substance of that tweet.

This made the fav one of the few forms of online speech that were mostly disconnected from consequence. When it wasn’t being used as a bookmark to help you remember links for later, pressing “favorite” on a tweet was the digital equivalent of a nod, a gesture that is hard to decipher. The fav derived its power from this deliberate ambiguity.

But now Twitter is slightly altering what happens when you press “favorite.” In what may or may not be a short-term experiment, the service is beginning to use faves as signals in deciding how to arrange users’ timelines. Under its new policy, if Twitter notices that a lot of your friends have faved a tweet, it may show you that tweet, even if you don’t follow the person who posted it.

The reason this feels odd is that it breaks the convention we’re used to, and replaces it with something that doesn’t follow network connections. If Twitter changed the rule so that all my followers would see my favorites it would follow the retweet model. But in that case, why have both retweet and favorite?

The new model is a popularity-oriented approach, but what about something more semantic? What if twitter allowed us to tag ourselves in our profiles, and then would direct tweets to us that matched our preferences? This is the concept of groupings, or Chris Messina’s Channels concept, inverted (see Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings). A grouping is a collection of people related through the use of a tag. You don’t get invited to a grouping, like a group: you invite yourself by tagging.

So when someone in my social scene (like friend of a friend) tags a tweet with #postnormal or #hashtags I would see that in my feed, because I am a member of the #postnormal and #hashtags groupings.

Of course, Twitter could simply develop the new favorite algorithm in a way that does the same as self-tagging and groupings would. I’d be happy with that.

First sighting of a buy now button on Twitter.

First sighting of a buy now button on Twitter.

Twitter and the Oxford English Dictionary | OxfordWords blog →

Richard Holden of the OED (@rchrd_h) credits me as the first twittered use of ‘hash tag’ and #hashtag, but I’ve been left out of the OED citation itself. Odd, especially since Ben Zimmer came to the same result a few years ago).

COO Rwoghani out at Twitter, but that’s just a symptom of greater ills

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo apparently decided that the tug-of-war that had been apparently going on between him and COO Ali Rwoghani was a waste of energy. Rowghani is out, and Jay Yarow has the deets:

Jay Yarow, Why Twitter’s COO Is Out - Business Insider

According to a person familiar with the situation, Rowghani leaving the company is “really about product, and the speed of the product.”

All product decisions had been flowing into Rowghani. CEO Dick Costolo wanted those decisions to come to him directly. Cutting a management layer between the product leader and the CEO will help Twitter make faster, more efficient changes to its products.

This description — if accurate — reflects a serious cultural problem at Twitter. Should the CEO — or the COO — be making product decisions? Yes, Costolo recently hired Daniel Graf from Google — only the most recent product guy to be tapped to goose the sluggish development culture there — but the legacy of past product regimes led by Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Mike Sippey seem to hang around, and no one person may be able to fix that.

In a healthy company of Twitter’s size, people much closer to the platform are experimenting with product features and capabilities. 

For example, shouldn’t some product manager — someone working with a small team of developers — build a version of the curated topics that Tumblr has? Why would that have to be decided by a C-level executive? Do the experiment, look at the results — what works or doesn’t — rinse and repeat, right?

Twitter feels like a company that has become lumbering, slow, and timid, where bias toward action has been suffocated, innovation prohibited, and the product is the sad result of design-by-committee.

They have been fumbling the future, and if it keeps on, it might be Costolo that will be leaving next.

Twitter Muting

Twitter is adding a much-needed feature: muting. This will allow me — when I eventually get access to the slow-to-roll-out feature — to mute people when they are at a conference and I can’t take it any more.

The best use case is when someone I do want to listen to retweets someone I don’t want to hear from. Apparently, if I mute the loudmouth, those retweets won’t reach me. But I guess I will have to first follow the people I am trying to avoid to avoid them by muting? is now a Zombie Company

As I predicted (see Announcing an audacious proposal by Dalton Caldwell), there really isn’t enough interest in as an alternative to Twitter. The company have announced that there is enough money in renewals to keep the lights on but no one will be home.

The company has announced that there will no longer be any full-time employees, including the founders Dalton Caldwell and Bryan Berg, but those two will continue to be responsible for the service, which is still online and available.

An interesting side effect of Twitter’s inability to articulate their core value prop is that anyone and everyone has advice for how they might improve (including me!). Combine that with the fact that Twitter serves so many different use cases – real-time news, de facto RSS reader, public chat, just to name a few – and you have a paralysis of choice not only for new users but also for Twitter’s marketing and onboarding teams.

So why not embrace the complexity? Instead of trying to teach new users how to built a curated follower list, build the lists for them. Don’t call them lists, though; embrace Twitter’s TV connection and make them “channels.” Big basketball game? Go to the basketball channel, populated not with the biggest celebrities but with the best and most entertaining tweeters. Build similar channels for specific teams in all sports. Do the same for Apple, Google, and technology; liberals, conservatives, and politics in general; have channels for the Oscars, the Olympics and so on and so forth. And make them good, devoid of the crap that pollutes most hashtags and search results. If the ideal Twitter experience is achieved with a curated list, then provide curated lists and an easy way to switch among them.

Now you have a value prop: easily join the conversation about what is happening in the areas you care about, without the months-long process of building a perfectly customized Twitter feed. Oh, and by the way Ad Person, here is a very easy-to-understand ad unit built around a specific topic filled with self-selected followers.


Let 360 degrees of hashtags, notifications, and updates swallow you whole. - What It’d Be Like To Step Inside Your Twitter Feed


Let 360 degrees of hashtags, notifications, and updates swallow you whole.What It’d Be Like To Step Inside Your Twitter Feed

(via fastcompany)

Twitter Hints That At-Replies And Hashtags Are About To Be Streamlined →

Charlie Warzel reports on hints and statements of intent at Twitter about moving the ‘arcane’ language of microsyntax (@, #, in particular) down into the infrastructure. He mentions a recent talk by Vivian Schiller:

What will Twitter look like in a year? Two years? A lot less like itself.

At least that’s the impression Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, gave addressing the crowd two days ago at the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference in Denver. During her talk, Schiller called at-replies and hashtags “arcane” and hinted that Twitter might soon move them into the background of the service.

When asked about the comments, Twitter replied that Schiller was echoing a similar sentiment that the company’s CEO, Dick Costolo, addressed in a recent earnings call:

By bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background, we can increase high-quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find this service as indispensable as our existing core users do. And we took initial steps in that direction with the introduction of media forward timelines and in-line social actions in October, and we’re already starting to see early signs that those initiatives are working well.

Unlike Schiller’s, Costolo’s statement makes no specific mention of hashtags and at-replies, suggesting that Schiller may have accidentally hinted at specific targets for upgrade. While it’s not immediately clear how this disappearance would work, it’s possible that at-replies will be auto-replaced by formal Twitter names, like they are on Facebook.

Hiding the # and @ characters would be like a city burying all the electric wires and TV cables so that people can see things better.

Twitter has already done away with explicit retweets (the old RT), and streamlined the way that URLs are handled, so why wouldn’t they want to clear out the unintuitive #hashtags and @mentions?

Hiding the # and @ characters would be like a city burying all the electric wires and TV cables so that people can see things better.

And this is coming from the guy that coined the term hashtag. I would be happy to drop the hash and just have real tags. But we still need to be able to tag tweets, even if we won’t be wasting characters with them. And by making tags real metadata, Twitter may finally get around to treating them as something more than just a # and a string of characters.

Here’s a picture of the explicit @mention being suppressed in an Android experimental app:

I Think Twitter Should Buy Nuzzel Immediately, Before Yahoo or Flipboard Does

I got access to Nuzzel today, and it is going to immediately join Flipboard as one of the few apps I religiously use everyday to make sense of my Twitter flow. Nuzzel cross-tabulates my incoming stream of tweets, and yields the stories that a whole bunch of my scene are talking about in Twitter. Nuzzel is the best social news feed I’ve seen, to date.


This is a much better realization of what I have been using Flipboard to do for me with my Twitter feed there. This aggregates dozens of tweets about a hot story — like Jennifer Bell’s Journalism startups aren’t a revolution if they’re filled with all these white men — and allows me to wander through aggregation from my friends — those who I follow directly — and from my friends of friends — which truly is my social scene. (I’m betting that swarm is something like a few hundred thousand to a million people, based on each of the 1500 folks I follow following a few hundred people each.)

Nuzzel also suggests stories I might have missed, and keeps track of what i have read — just that last feature along is a product I need regularly.

Check out my public Nuzzel feed at

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