I still love Twitter. I’ve been using it since 2009 and it holds a special place. For reasons that I only recently learned to put in to place. Twitter is a protocol. It’s a (unique) way of communicating.
I’m also still a big RSS user. Which is a different beast. Very useful, but a much more isolated experience. On Twitter you are connected and present in a visible manner. The RSS experience is much more like lurking in a dark corner. Nonetheless, there is room for that too. For me, Twitter and RSS are complementary to each other.
Recently, there has been some unrest around Twitter. The stock is going down, the CEO has been replaced, and features are removed. That last part is what bothers me the most. It seems the new approach has been to dumb down Twitter as much as possible. I don’t like it. Maybe it’s going back to the roots of the core idea. Maybe it’s just trial-and-error management. I don’t know. But for me as a user I’d like to see new features. Features that don’t necessarily have to interfere with the core, basic Twitter experience, but that would improve and broaden the Twitter experience and time spent on Twitter. So if I were Twitter CEO I would add these.
1. Improved, more selective, search
I want to be able to search individual (including my own) timelines. I can never seem to find anything on Twitter.
2. Diary (News Archive)
I want to be able to select a date and see my timeline from *that* date. What did it look like last New Years eve, or when the MH17 went down? I think such a feature would be pretty great.
3. Favorite vs. “like”
I want to be able to acknowledge tweets that I enjoyed. Yes, there is the favorite button. But for me favoriting is the equivalent of bookmarking. I favorite things I want to get back to. So I don’t want to dilute my bookmarks with “likes”. So I’m strict with favoriting. I think there should be another/different button/heart.
To me it seems Twitter is struggling with this. I believe favoriting started of as bookmarking but people raised on Facebook took it for the Like button and Twitter just let that happen. If there was another way of letting people know that I enjoyed their tweets there would be much more activity. From me at least. Favoriting something is a big deal: because it is stored in my favorite timeline forever and for all the world to see. Liking, not so much. I believe this to be one of the reasons of the Instagram success. The way they implemented their “like” feature, it’s low key and I don’t need to see what it was that I liked again.
4. Curated feeds
Until recently Twitter had a special (Activity) feed that let me see what people from my timeline favorited. Even though I don’t use the favorite button like that myself (as explained) I loved this. That was a great feed and this is were I spent most of my time. That feed was like crack to me, because it is addictively more interesting to see what someone interesting finds interesting. For me, this is where 70% of the good stuff was. That feature is gone. I understand it might not be for everyone, but people like me lived here.
Part of this problem might be that a lot of people merely seem interested in talking/yelling on Twitter so they have no interest in listening to others.
Also, Twitter could use this like info to show me the best tweets for a certain period. Say I have been away on vacation without an internet connection, just let me see the good stuff for the last month.
And this same mechanism could also be used to filter the sense from the nonsense. I worry that a lot of (young) people seem to hit every follow button they come across, after which their Twitter timeline becomes an uncontrollable mess (bots with 100’s of tweets/day) to which they never return. Too much hassle. I’m very selective who to follow and to keep a readable timeline. Again: this is me. But it is part of a larger problem on Twitter to create a better experience where the better content sticks out more. Snapchat specifically and probably incidentally deals with this problem. Stuff is just gone after a certain period.
(By the way, the day Twitter decides what I see on my timeline and what I don’t (like Facebook) is the day I’m leaving Twitter.)
Yes, Google+ is turning out to be quite a debacle for Larry Page and friends. But I believe they got at least one thing right. Circles. Because of the (modest but) mixed crowd that follows me on Twitter, I’m sort of selective in what I tweet. If I could make groups and choose which tweets are visible for which group I would certainly tweet more.