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Why Is Twitter All the Rage? | Mining the Social Web

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A few philosophical thoughts about how Twitter satisfies some fundamental human desires, which has largely contributed to its success. ( An excerpt from Mining the Social Web, 2nd Edition - )

I liked this insight:

As humans, what are some things that we want that technology might help us to get?

  • We want to be heard.
  • We want to satisfy our curiosity.
  • We want it easy.
  • We want it now.


<In other words, whereas some social websites like Facebook and LinkedIn require the mutual acceptance of a connection between users (which usually implies a real-world connection of some kind), Twitter’s relationship model allows you to keep up with the latest happenings of any other user, even though that other user may not choose to follow you back or even know that you exist. Twitter’s following model is simple but exploits a fundamental aspect of what makes us human: our curiosity. Whether it be an infatuation with celebrity gossip, an urge to keep up with a favorite sports team, a keen interest in a particular political topic, or a desire to connect with someone new, Twitter provides you with boundless opportunities to satisfy your curiosity.>

I *like* the firehose.

Do you ever wish Twitter would filter the good stuff out of the firehose for you?

I might miss some serendiptous event.

So it's worth wading through a lot of junk for that one delightful hit off the crack pipe?

I've often felt as though there are some huge opportunities here. One of my hobby interests that I've noodled on for the *longest time* is in using machine learning to recommend content, and it has always seemed to me that an ultra-simple app that essentially provides you with a ranked list of the "top N" tweets for you in (near) real-time would be killer. Now that Mining the Social Web, 2nd Edition and some other projects are winding down, I'm considering putting some effort into a little MVP prototype of sorts. I mean, let's face it, Twitter's "home timeline" is a total disaster and large curated lists are still pretty unruly. What you really need is the equivalent of a "personal assistant" that has read all of the tweets for you that you might be remotely interested in and just filters out the "good stuff" that is personalized for you. As your interests change over time, it tunes itself to reflect that...and it also would still incorporate an element of serendipity as well so that you can discover new things. To my knowledge, nobody has nailed this yet. Do you all think this would be valuable, specifically tailored for the Twitter domain? An ultra-simple UI/UX that just provides ranked tweets from the people you are following, people you have listed, FOAFs, etc.

Yes, it would be valuable.

Flipboard has tried hard to curate Twitter but their magazine metaphor is unsatisfying for tweets.

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