Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

Twitter becomes… IRC!

I am a keen Twitterer (@Memset_Kate), and was very dissapointed to learn this morning of their announcement that they would be removing replies to people you do not follow from the timeline. In my view, and that of just about everyone I know and follow, that is highly undesirable and eliminates a large part of what was unique about Twitter.

They announced it as a “Small Settings Update” – pasted below:

Small Settings Update

We’ve updated the Notices section of Settings to better reflect how folks are using Twitter regarding replies. Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it’s a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option.

The Importance of Discovery

Spotting new folks in tweets is an interesting way to check out new profiles and find new people to follow. Despite this update, you’ll still see mentions or references linking to people you don’t follow. For example, you’ll continue to see, “Ev meeting with @biz about work stuff” even if you don’t follow @biz. We’ll be introducing better ways to discover and follow interesting accounts as we release more features in this space.

The beauty of Twitter has always been that it is like a chat room where you are not necessarily listening to the same people who you are talking to. That may seem a bit odd at first, but when you think about it it can be rather cool. Take me for instance; without sounding too egotistical, I have time to follow about 100 people, but more than that are interested in what I have to say. Some of those people might mainly use Twitter to talk about personal issues that are not relevant to me, so I don’t follow them.

Equally, I like hearing replies from people I do follow to people that I do not. That way I can “listen in” to conversations of the people I follow and if it sounds interesting I can link through and look at the other side of the convo, but I don;t have to have the other person in my feed / timeline.

@monkchips is a good example; he is a great Twitterer and a strong voice in the IT community. He follows about 800 people, and is followed by >5,000. I like hearing his side of conversations directed at people I do not follow, since then I can cherry-pick interesting sounding ones. I follow him because he is interesting, not because he is a personal friend or we share friends.

In effect, this change is turning Twitter into a ‘normal’ chat room just like the ones I was using 13 years ago at University. We used a system called Internet Relay Chat.. or IRC as it is commonly known. Such a shame to see a great innovation in online comms take a massive leap backwards.

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