So I'm puzzling how to make Twitter more useful to me. Up until now, it's been the equivalent of a school science project. Interesting, but random.
Random in terms of what some twits tweet about. The good stuff is quite good. The bad stuff is a waste of time. Twitter's good, but there's a way to make it great. All we need is a smart developer or two to take it to the next step.
Over the course of any 24-hour period, the dreck outweighs the interesting feeds by a 70-30 margin. Of course, this is all subjective and nobody wants a hall monitor to decide what's worthy and what's not. Some people really find it useful to know that so-and-so had a useful business lunch or is off to get interviewed by a TV reporter. My preference is to let a thousand Tweets twitter.
But in Twitter's current incarnation, I'm reduced to passively watching a computerized version of Internet TV. Whatever comes over the transom, I consume--whether it's something I passionately care about or is utterly uninteresting. And as I continue to add names to "follow," it's only a matter of time before the noise-to-signal ratio heads off the charts.
As an aside, I recently added names on the Twitterholic.com Top 100 Twitterholics to expand my Twitter circle. That's only making things worse. I'm interested in following some of the people on the list, but the grouping is pretty much a popularity contest based on the number of followers. It would be a big help if I knew ahead of time what each of these folks liked to twit about.
But that's not asking for the moon. What about finding a way to allow Twitter users to subscribe to followers based around interests or profession? I'd love to go up to Twitter and select individual channels where the odds are that most of what's under discussion is relevant to me.
If there are technical reasons why this is asking the impossible, tell me. Sure, it's a different animal, but technology already lets us get a handle on the daily information flow via subscriptions to RSS feeds or through smart aggregators like iGoogle. So, for instance, I read a daily blog operated by Juan Cole, who is a professor of Middle Eastern history. Cole may publish the occasional post that leaves me flat. But over time I've come to trust his judgment about what's important, and most of his writing appeals to my interests.
Even if he's only off to a business lunch or to do a TV interview. :)