In order to appease all of my reader, I’m writing up another blog post. Really, I should be doing it to appease myself, but whatever. I’ve written up, or at least started, a couple posts which I think should be interesting. However, in an attempt to only come out with (relatively) quality work, I’m trying to edit them a bit before posting. I think I’ll give you a hard deadline (and myself as well); I’ll post them by Monday night: one post on me complaining about myself, and one post on me complaining about militant/hardcore atheists. Aren’t you terrifically excited? I know I am.
Speaking of being all atwitter, it seems that they‘ve gotten around to providing a feature a lot of programs already gave: lists. Most people are excited, I know that some people aren’t. Of course, there’s a valid point: some people are using lists to correct for a flaw inherent in their own system. Information overload occurs for them because they don’t know when to stop clicking the damn “follow” button, or how to prune people that add nothing to their view of the global conversation. Here’s a free “Pro Tip”: don’t follow someone back just cause they followed you; statistically speaking, they’re probably a boring self-absorbed asshole (but then, likely so are you).
I think there are other possibilities for twitter lists, though. I only follow 80 people at the moment, and I have 9 lists. I view it as a way to figure out more interesting people to follow. When twitter nerfed the ability to see all replies (even if you’re not following the user being replied to) in your timeline however many moons ago that was, I was pretty pissed. I was just about as pissed as one can be about a free service that impacts virtually nothing in one’s real life. It removed a function of “serendipitous discovery,” or whatever phrase proponents assigned to it. I think this goes at least a little of the way towards mending that bridge.
Take a look at it from this angle: I follow a wide smattering of people because, like most humans, I find multiple topics interesting. Someone who follows me might share one of those interests, but probably not more than 3. With lists, they can see who I’ve grouped together as also sharing that interest. For instance, I have a list for linguistics, and a list of people doing work with PostgreSQL. The two lists have absolutely no one in common, but they’re both interests that someone following me might share. Now, rather than either clicking through my following list to find similarly interesting people, or just giving up entirely on finding interesting people (the more likely course), people can have a cherry-picked list prepared for them before they even arrive.
Of course, the feature is far from perfect. The navigation through lists is shoddy (every page seems to have a different set of links to different functions), and it’s not easy to find users in your following list without just clicking through every page (which, even with my small number of followees, is annoying). I’d also like to see a way to provide a brief description for a list, for those situations when it’s not entirely clear, nor could it be made clear in a brief URL-like description, why these people are grouped together. I have a list of people I’ve actually met in meat space, but I couldn’t figure out a good way to say that succinctly for my list name. A brief description field would be awesome to clarify that, so you wouldn’t have to wade through my bizarre version of comedic naming to “get it.”
Of course, I’m sure it won’t be long before I find that most people are using it to make worthless lists and somehow spamming becomes a problem.