Getting Listed

Image by mary hodder via Flickr

In the beginning, there was Twitter.  Twitter was good, and we used it.  However, you had to manually refresh it for the latest updates and once you hit 100 people to follow.  It quickly was becoming unmanageable.

Into the scene comes Twitter clients.  There are applications that reside on your computer that go out automatically and poll Twitter for the latest updates and then displays them on your computer.  The search became one of searching for the best client.  I toyed with Spaz, Twhirl, and a number of plug-ins for Firefox.  All of them were very good, and did the trick for polling Twitter for updates.  However, user management still was an issue.

Then, I played around with Tweetdeck.  This was a new experience.  Instead of a single stream of messages, you could have multiple columns to follow different conversations or people.  This expanded the functionality of Twitter enormously.  About the same time, Twitter added search to its functionality so that you could do a search for a topic of interest or one that was trending.  Into the fray, came Seesmic Desktop which is my current favourite.  Like Tweetdeck, it has multiple columns to track various conversations or topics.  It also has a really useful ability to create a list of people that you follow.  If you see my #FollowFriday posts, you’ll notice that I have a post that I send out called “Active Ontario Educators”.   As I start to follow a new Ontario person, I’ll add them to this group.  It’s a nice way to manage the messages from within our provincial borders.

That doesn’t mean that I ignore the rest of my followers.  They’re still in my home list for following.  I actually now have a couple of lists to follow educators from outside the province, and another for people who are just really interesting and worthy of following.

Of course, most contemporary clients have that built into them.  Hootsuite, Seesmic Web, and Brizzly are a new breed of Twitter browser.  While they have the ability to include search and list, they are web services.  So, you don’t need to download a special client to do the deed.  It happens right in your browser.  No need to stay up to day with the latest for Adobe Air which is typically the platform for the clients.  It adds more functionality to Twitter since you have all of the search functionality without the need of an extra installation.  You can now stay in touch wherever you happen to be and with whatever computer is at your finger tips.

Now, Twitter has included its own way to create lists.  While watching the baseball game last night, I decided to re-create my list of Ontario Educators there.  It took a while as I scrolled through my list of friends and added those that I recognize as meeting this criteria.  It was kind of frustrating at times as you get a new appreciation for the client doing the work.  I had a couple of Fail Whales indicating that the success of this social media site is so popular that it’s overloaded!  I’m assuming that the spinning throbber and then nothing experiences that I had assigning people to the list was another indication that things were busy.  Sometimes, it took 3-4 attempts to get a user checked and then added to the list.

Eventually, I was done.  In my Twitter home page, I now have a new list that I called Ontario Educators and there are 54 people assigned to that group.  Like the client, a click lets me filter to find out what’s happening with just these people.  But, there’s more functionality that I’m liking.  I can create multiple lists for various areas of interests.  This is very good.  I can also see the lists that I’m a part of!  This is a very nice extension of the social networking concepts.  Since the idea of lists is new, I had to make sure that I included myself in my list so that I’m listed at least once!

It’s great to see this service evolving and becoming more powerful and functional over time.  I would encourage everyone to explore the listing feature of whatever means you access Twitter.  It makes the great service even better.

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