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Twitter Lists – A nice addition – But how do you filter out the junk?

I have to admit that I’m not usually one to be excited about the so-called innovation that comes out of many of these larger internet companies. In fact – very few of the so-called “enhancements” really impress me. But I’ll give props to Twitter. The road-map they’ve put together is exciting to me as a user first, and as an application developer as well.

Perhaps the most exciting thing is integration of the lists experience into their API. As a developer, I can see where this will allow a more realistic way of integrating relevant Twitter’ers into content site. I can see where domain experts will build lists of experts in their field who, if they have something meaningful to say, could provide for some very useful and relevant integration into content sites. Like Robert Scoble’s list for Most Influential in Tech.

The missing piece of the puzzle
I wonder if Twitter has plans to give Twitterers the ability to categorize their tweets to allow developers to filter out the nonsense. If a domain expert is tweeting that he’s standing in line at the bank (or something comparably lame) – we as developers would rather skip the noise and get to the more relevant tweets. The noise is possibly OK for some applications (like celebrity stalking or fan-sites) – but for someone looking for meaningful micro-postings from experts in a particular field – it’s going to be increasingly more important to be able to differentiate the junk from the substance. I’m not sure exactly how they would do this, but if the stream of consciousness is ever to be considered relevant – I personally think this has to be an important part of their plans.

One possibility exists today – without getting Twitter to make any changes. It would be to have the Twitter’er use something comparable to hash-tags. For example, if a domain expert wants to tweet that their kid has a runny nose, then maybe they tag-it to be ignored by using an asterisk or an underscore. Like:

“_ Little Billy has a snotty nose today”

If there is an accepted standard for differentiating the noise from the normally brilliant bursts of genius – we developers could easily ignore these where it’s applicable to do so.

It’s important

Obviously, the reason Twitter has become so important is the fact that so many folks are engaged very actively in it. Many very influential folks use it as a very big component of their day-to-day communications about the world they live and work. I’m a big believer in capturing the important nuggets that come out of this. I think at the heart of it will be very useful and engaging content. As a developer, I want to bring that layer out and present it to users!

As a Twitterer myself, I like being able to use this platform to communicate about my world. But if anyone were to ever consider me someone they’d like to listen to about Technology – I want to make it easier for them to do so.

Anyways – that’s enough rambling for now. Let me know what your thoughts are.

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  1. Follow Friday: Techie Twitterers to know | December 21, 2009 at 8:29 am | Permalink

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