There's no doubt that Twitter has been revolutionary. But for the uninitiated, logging into the microblogging platform can be a bit like getting hit with a firehose of news, social commentary, hot takes and Friday Lizard memes.
To help cut through the cacophony, Twitter launched Moments -- curated feeds of tweets that bring together all the news and discussion around the big topics of the day into one stream of tweets. The platform was launched in the US last year, followed by Brazil and the UK. Now Moments is coming to Australia.
Moments will appear from today as a new tab (marked by a lightning bolt icon) on the desktop, Android and iOS versions of the Twitter app, right next to your notifications tab. By clicking on the lightning, you'll be directed to the top stories of today in the worlds of news, sport, entertainment and "fun," the last of which being where you'll find things like hashtag games and "Cute ways the Internet celebrated Bieber's 22nd birthday." #bless
We might have missed the big moments around the Super Bowl (like Eli Manning's man-child disappointment face) and the Oscars, but Australia will get its own geo-targeted Moments that are shaped around Australian interests.
Twitter is also partnering with "contributors" such as the AFL, NRL and ABC News who will curate Moments to share their own content with Twitter users. While this is an unpaid arrangement, you can expect sponsored Moments in the future.
According to the head of Twitter Moments, global curation lead Andrew Fitzgerald, Moments are designed as a "complement to the core Twitter platform" rather than a way to replace your regular feed.
"Moments is a wonderful solution if you are not already following the right accounts," he said. "It's a direct response to the feedback that there's a tonne of great stuff on Twitter, but it's hard to find it. We know, as Twitter employees, incredible things are happening on Twitter everyday...But for my mother to find those things is difficult."
You might think that creating a Moment is as simple as opening a bottle of wine and putting on some Barry White, but for Twitter's team of Moment curators, it comes down to the mix of "smart human judgement and algorithmic filtering." The Moments algorithm tracks "volume, acceleration and novelty" of tweets, following trends and measuring which tweets and hashtags are making an impact in real time.
That might be watching a celebrity feud unfold on social media, or it could be watching the Aussies cleaning up at Hollywood's biggest award ceremony.Mad Max dominates at the Oscars
But the algorithm doesn't have everything covered.
Twitter's Australian curation lead Luke Hopewell said the local team will be able to anticipate trends, know that particular stories are coming and then understand the value of that to the Twitter audience, before machine learning has caught up.
"Keep Sydney Open [the anti-lockout law protest in Sydney] is one example," said Hopewell. "The algorithm wouldn't have known that Keep Sydney Open was coming. It would have known that there was some disparate talk around it...but our curators knew about it days ago."
As Fitzgerald says, there's only so much an algorithm can track before the event has happened.
"It turns out the Oscars happen every year, and the algorithm is still like, 'What?! The Oscars?!'"
The Rio Olympics, Australian Federal Elections and US Elections will all be big topics that get their own Moments this year, but there are a few topics that can always be relied on to trend.
"Anything Kanye," says Fitzgerald.
Sometimes, the machines and the humans both know when something makes for good crazy reading.