Twitter Search: "Authority" versus "Popularity"

Interesting threads going on in the ‘sphere w/r/t "weighted" Twitter search results.

TechCrunch posted "Should Twitter Add Authority-Based Search?", linking to a Loic Le Meur post asking Twitter to add an "authority" filter to the Twitter Search. He suggests prioritizing of results weighted by the number of followers for the author, implying relative importance of the conversation.

From a pragmatic view, this sounds more like a popularity contest than a relevance indicator to me; Robert Scoble agrees, in his "Thanks Mike Arrington for taking us off the rails into Twitter Idiot Land". Of course, Robert is a bit more outspoken than am I.

The beauty of Twitter (and the Web at large): use it the way that suits you, and enjoy your usage (else don’t use it at all). For me, Twitter is a way for me to stay in touch with those for whom I care, but won’t sit down and write an email (nor will they). It’s a way for me to keep a finger on various Web pulses in near-real-time.

On a side note, my Twitter habits will never win me the popular vote:

  • I don’t auto- or random-follow (there must be programs that do this, as the oddest collection of people start to follow me).
  • I follow only those whom I recognize, or are relevant and / or interesting to me. I follow TechCrunch, O’Reilly, Hinchcliffe and a smattering of talented Web .Next folks .. along with some of my more colorful co-workers and friends.
  • I look at anyone who follows me (email alert), and if they’re not active, known, relevant and / or interesting to me, I block them.
  • I prune my follows / followers from time to time; their voice and recent activity are my primary constraints. It takes seconds to tell us what you’re doing .. don’t be shy!

I will never follow 1,000 people, and likely won’t ever have 1,000 followers. That’s too much management and risk of overload for me .. not from too much information: I can handle the incoming information I choose to read, but if I’m missing the bulk of the relevant tweets because of volume, what’s the sense of following all those people?

My Tweets overlap my blog post messaging; a bit more whimsy than my blog, and of course, far more immediate. Who else Tweets the "Pancake Shape of the Day", you might ask? 😛 As I point out in my blog: I have a voice. If my voice resonates with you, then I have an audience. Either way I still have a voice.

As with all things Web, there’s always more. TechCrunch posts: "Ask and Ye Shall Receive: Twitority Launches Authority-Based Twitter Search".

Memo to all: Get Over It. Use Twitter (and other Web 2.0 toys) in the way that suits you.

That said, I suspect we’ll be echoing about this for a bit.

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About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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