Directing the chorus of twitters: Finding the relevant news
Oct 22, 2009, 16:18 GMT
Hamburg - Barack Obama uses Twitter. A follower of the Dalai Lama does as well, thereby giving the world the impression that the real Tibetan spiritual leader is behind the aphorisms.
Ordinary people, of course, use Twitter, a real-time short messaging service that people all over the world use to receive and send tweets - concisely written bursts of information relevant to them. Scads of tweets are sent day after day and around the clock, including a lot of nonsense and expendable information. But there's also interesting and exciting material on Twitter that can't be found anywhere else. How does an average user find diamonds in the rough in the million-voice chorus of Twitter? A number of services offer to help.
'How do I find relevant info in new tweets sent every second?' asked Sven Wiesner, a Web-2.0 expert, speaking about the dilemma at a recent event in Hamburg. Wiesner provided a few solutions, saying a variety of search machines are available to users who are able to narrow down their interests in the subjects and news they would like to be informed about. One of them is offered by Twitter itself: graphically minimized and found at www.search.twitter.com.
Another example of a real-time search machine is Twazzup at www.twazzup.com. The name is a play on words blending the name Twitter with the greeting 'What's up?' As with www.search.twitter.com, the user doesn't have to come up with the current top key words being searched. They automatically appear next to the input box. At another site, www.tweetgrid.com, users input search queries and the system returns the latest relevant Tweets.
People who prefer to be supplied with exciting news from the network rather than to find out what people are tweeting about based on defined key words can use services that employ an established Twitter practice known as the retweet. Many users forward tweets that appear interesting to them marked with the letters RT for retweet. This is how news can travel around the world seemingly at the speed of light.
This doesn't make the retweet into a relevant bit of news for large numbers of people or even hot news. But the chance of a retweet being something really interesting and new is greater than the chance of a tweet that hasn't been forwarded being interesting and new. There are a lot of services linked to this idea with specially designated channels set up to forward Twitter news sent by other users.
These services, such as www.tweetmeme.com, acts as a sort of director of the huge Twitter chorus. The user can define the number of retweets on a news item the system should deliver to his screen. When a user requests three, that's how many he'll get. But if he wants 50 he will receive a stream of Twitter news briefs. Users can also have the service suggest photos posted at the related service Twitpic. Available at another channel are You Tube video clips most commonly linked in internet blogs.
Users who have no use for such websites can have Twitter show them relevant tweets under defined subjects such as sports, lifestyle, gaming and comedy. And it doesn't matter whether they come in little batches or in long streams: The user can send news reports that appear interesting to him to his followers with a click in his Twitter profile and thus make a report that has been widely read into a broadly distributed message.
The service that carries its principle function within its name, www.retweet.com, looks not only optically like tweetmeme.com, but also functions according to the same principles. As a bonus there is a URL shortener that shrinks band worm links to the Twitter format and a retweet button that users can make available in their own blogs. This allows readers to forward them on the spot.
Another portal at which users can get informed about relevant Twitter news is www.dailyrt.com. There's little modesty in its subtitle, which attempts to define the service as having 'the most popular tweets in the web.' Especially interesting at the site, which like Twitter has a bird in its logo, is a list of Twitter users whose messages are the most retweeted.