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Monday, January 28, 2008

Segmenting the Twitterverse

GeekMommy makes some very good points in her rant. In fact, it's un-rantlike in that way.

Background: I have only recently gotten into Twitter but I've been part of online communities for many years. I was able to jump with without too much hesitation because I knew that I was experimenting with it. Reading the archives on her blog, it seems she's comfortable with jumping right in too.

Point: Twitter already has 'boxes' built into it's design. Time and Followers

Time: The context of the group is largely dictated by the time you have been around to pick up the context of the conversations. Especially in a place like Twitter that has so many things happening all at once. You can't try to go back and catch up on people's old tweets, it's both overwhelming and ineffective.

Followers: A first look at Twitter can be intimidating and demoralizing when you try to 'join the conversation' and only 5 people are listening to what you have to say.

Conclusions: I see Twitterpacks as an entrance for people that look over the Twitter landscape and see people with hundreds of followers having conversations that span long periods of time. While it's not difficult to get followers on Twitter (as most people will still follow back) the thought of putting injecting yourself that brazenly into a community doesn't seem like typical user behavior.

What Twitterpack made me wonder is if Twitter is needs more social capabilities. Like profile tags, built-in URL shorterner, categories for tweets, and other commonly used tools.

Update1: I want to clarify what I said above. I don't think that the boxes inherent in the Twitter design are exclusionary. They just create a barrier to entry for newcomers. (Personally, I stayed away from Twitter because I knew I would become addicted... I must really be an outlier.)

Update2: Chris Brogan made posted explaining his intention and asking for comments.


Ike said...

Profile tags are the answer. Join the boxes you want to be a part of within your profile, where YOU can edit it. Having it on a wiki is a little scary for me.

One other thing that's not a deal-killer, but a concern -- and that's the whole "me too!" notion involved. I'll wait for the edge to stop bleeding.

Chris Brogan said...

Love the idea of tags and self-labeling. But Flickr's tags are self plus "contacts" can tag one, as well. Would this build the same dynamic?

It's an interesting side question: would TAGGING someone be more "intimate" than NAMING them on a list?

linda.sherman said...

I like "self tagging" and I agree that I would prefer to have it searchable, editable and on my profile. I don't think it is necessary to tag or label others for them.

John Johansen said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who things Twitter-tagging is a good idea.

@Ike: I've been forced to agree with you on the bleeding-edge. I still haven't been able to edit the TwitterPacks wiki.

@Chris: I'm not sure if Twitter would be conducive to multiple people tagging tweets. And, since the goal would be to structure conversations to make them more accessible, I'm not sure how open you want the folksonomy to be.

To your side question, I think that incorporating it into the service does make it more acceptable, at least.

@Linda: Searchable would be an excellent benefit. But, I'd bee more interested in being able to subscribe to feeds of specific categories within a person's profile.

Doug Meacham said...

John, have you seen the new product from the Wordpress guys called Prologue? Very Twitter-like, but with with Comments and Tags.

John Johansen said...

Doug: Yes, I think that's a great idea. I wish I had a WordPress blog to play around with it.