Twitter is preparing to roll out a fairly significant rethinking of the user experience for the microstreaming service. They are planning to bring the social gestures that users make out in the open. These gestures are the actions of following people, favoriting tweets, retweets, or adding people to lists. Some of that gestural information has been available in Twitter to date, but most of it hasn’t been found in the stream along with the tweets themselves.
The change will come by changing the ‘@mentions’ tab into two:
Specifically, the “@Mentions” tab on twitter.com is being replaced by two new tabs: “@USERNAME” and “Activity”. These two streams will add an additional layer to Twitter and to Tweets themselves, a layer showing the social activity around them.
The @USERNAME (obviously, USERNAME will be replaced by your Twitter name) stream will still show your @replies, but it will also show things like when someone follows you, when someone favorites one of your Tweets, when someone retweets one of your Tweets, or when someone adds you to a list.
The Activity stream will show you all of those things, but related to all of the people you follow on Twitter. In other words, you can see if a connection has retweeted a Tweet, or if they followed someone new, etc.
Siegler doesn’t say that the current Timeline tab — which shows the tweets from you and all that you follow — will remain unchanged, but that is my interpretation at present.
Surfacing social gestures in general — and making favoriting a social preoccupation instead of a not very robust bookmarking tool — is a great way to make Twitter a richer social experience. In fact, this shift feels like Twitter has taken a long hard look at Tumblr, and has decided to capitalize on that social networked blogging platform’s success, which is driven to a great extent by the richness of social gestures, which are presented in stream. Here’s a snippet of my Tumblr stream, showing gestures and a post:
I wrote a piece not too long ago, What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr, which focused on the efforts that Tumblr has recently put into its support of tags, and curation of tagged topics. (For those still not familiar with Tumblr, you might read Comparing Tumblr To Wordpress.)
But it seems like the social gestures of Tumblr — which are natively presented in the Tumblr stream — will be the first innovation to jump from Tumblr to Twitter.
I wonder if Twitter will take the ‘notes’ idea from Tumblr, as well? In Tumblr, all the social gestures associated with a post can be displayed on that post’s page (depending on the template settings). So If I post something that garners a great deal of interest — getting liked and reposted a great deal — there is a long series of gestures shown on that page. In a sense, the post has it’s own associated stream: all the gestures that it caused.
On Twitter this would mean that the page associated with a tweet — the one reached by clicking on the tweet’s timestamp — might show all the favorites and retweets tied to the tweet. Will have to see if this will be done.
And oh, there is still all that work to be done on tags, which Twitter still doesn’t seem to be very interested in, yet.