Twitter Features Wish List

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After returning to Twitter after a week-long break, I’ve had the chance to look at the service with a freshened perspective. Twitter needs to stay simple – that’s what drives its success. Nevertheless, I believe Twitter needs to mature and provide exploits of its service. While the basics of Twitter aught to remain, Twitter, Inc. can build a wider ecosystem around those basics which could make it a true contender as an important part of the Web.

Services like Posterous and Friendfeed offer features such as replying via email. Although third-parties could develop similar features via Twitter’s API, it’s time that Twitter mature a bit. If Twitter plays its cards right, it could offer itself as much more than just as the modern equivalent of a telecommunications utility (which it is).

  1. Email content, replies, DMs. We should have an option to respond to replies & DMs via email. There are services out there such as Topify but they don’t provide the most secure methods.
  2. Constraining tweets to certain followers. For example, if I want to tweet something that only interests a particular group of followers, I should have an option to limit a tweet to that meta tag. Twitter already offers meta data (it time stamp, the application the tweet was sent from, etc.). Such an option would help harness and focus Twitter’s connection engine.
  3. Geotagged tweets. Similar to constraining to tagged followers, Chris Brogan offers us a way to limit Twitter to location-focused tweeting. Chris refers to this as Geopocketing.
  4. Scheduling recurring tweets (to self account for reminders, etc.) Currently, Twitter restrains scheduling of tweets to prevent abuse. But as it gains better control over spam, options to legitimate uses of scheduling need to be incorporated.
  5. Autoreply feature (within limits). Automating Twitter isn’t always the best thing to do, but there are times when it’s needed. If I’m away from Twitter, an out-of-office feature would be nice for public replies.
  6. Pro accounts for Enterprise management should incorporate meta data for multiple users. I imagine as Twitter expands in its ubiquity, companies and other organizations will need multiple users for the same account. Metadata on tweets with the individual who sent the tweet would improve customer service. There are third-party clients like Co-Tweet that enable multiple users, but having user-specific metadata would offer better customer service options.
  7. List notifications. When a user is added to a list, there should be a notification. This is no different than a follow notification. It gives users more control and helps to identify and manage spam.
  8. Improved follow management – the email notifications should add much more data about followers. FriendFeed offers a great model.
  9. Return @ reply viewing feature. Twitter used to offer a “see all replies” feature which users could turn on. It allowed us to view all tweets, including replies to people you weren’t following. It added to the social serendipity of Twitter.
  10. Subdomain accounts to follow specialized tweets. For organizations which use multiple Twitter accounts, Twitter should offer sub-domains which provide more information about the organization’s Twitter presence: a page which offers TOS guidelines, all Twitter accounts, information on employees on Twitter, etc.
  11. Security – cell phone activation, verification (Twitter does have this, but I’ve noticed that it’s not offered consistently – could be a glitch).
  12. Twitter should also build sub-domains that help extend conversation. One of the things that made Friendfeed a powerful social aggregation was the ability to comment on posts and share those posts across one’s social graph. If Twitter could install a sub-domain where conversations around tweets could be consolidated, it would boost Twitter’s presence as a social medium giant. It could actually give Facebook some competition. Twitter needs to extend its Web real-estate – the basic service may not be best provided on its web site, but these additional services would bring users (and relevant advertisers) back.

Twitter could make improvements and refinements such as these without compromising the powerful simplicity of the 140 character cocktail party. Amateur hour is over for Twitter, Inc. It’s got more than $150 million of venture capital to recoup (actually more when you factor investor discount rates and time). It’s not going to get close to that if it just lets Google and Bing usurp its real-time firehose without building on its remarkable connectivity machine.

What do you think? What features would you like to see added to Twitter?

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How to Say No to Twitter – My Week Away from Tweet Crack

A little over a week ago I decided to take a break from Twitter and to heavily reduce my use of the Web in general. It’s becoming apparent to me that those of us who work heavily with the Web need to pay attention to how this Seventh Kingdom of Life influences how we work and play and connect. Here’s what I did and the insights I gained from a week away from Twitter.

Overall the experience was refreshing and gave me perspective on work-flows and presence of mind.

(Ironically, my blog was h*cked and Google removed me from its index during my break. Yesterday I ported my blog over to WordPress.com so my readers are protected. My database was affected. (I’ll post more details later.) So that’s why my blog has a new look. I just found some (painful) humor in timing: it sure is illuminating how much power Google can have: 75% of my online “brand” equity wiped out with the push of a button.)

CLOSING THE WINDOW

Starting last Monday I turned off notifications from Twitter. Except for a few direct messages with someone who I needed to moderate #RNchat last week and a few goodbyes to close friends, Twitter was off for me. No clients open. No visits to Twitter.com, Twitter Search or my RSS feeds for keywords. Lesson one: keep your monitoring to a minimum.

Cutting from the Web wasn’t as much as a challenge as dealing with email. What I discovered was email had heavily weighted down my productivity. I initially thought that Twitter was the productivity sink, but it’s been email. In fact, I think my productivity would be enhanced if 99% of my communications routed through Twitter. Why? Because Twitter has a shut-up valve: the 140 character limit. Twitter shunts business to essential need. You still need  to establish an efficient work-flow with Twitter, but it’s a lot easier to manage than email (at least for me).

The problem with email isn’t a technological one – email’s actually a great technology & one that will be with us for a long time. It’s a social problem – no offense, but some people still don’t understand how to use email effectively. The biggest mistake I think people make with email is thinking that it’s a collaboration tool. It’s an anti-collaboration tool.

FIGHTING TECH WITH TECH – GOOGLE DOCS AS HEALTH TRACKER

In order to ensure compliance with my “digital cleanse” or brain defragmentation, I created a form using Google Docs which I used to capture what I was doing at various points during the day. I took some inspiration from Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and set 4 times during the day that I would complete the form. The form included these items to track:

  1. Compulsion to tweet
  2. Compulsion to check email
  3. Compulsion to do anything Web-related
  4. Mood (on a ten-point scale)
  5. Stress level
  6. General state of mind
  7. A box to comment on what I was doing right at that moment.
  8. Are tasks that are due right now complete?
  9. Other than filling out this form, have you been online since last survey?
  10. If you were online, what was it to do?
  11. Number of minutes online since last survey.
  12. A text box for general comments.

I created a short-link for the form and added the link to my calender and had that notification texted to me (which was the only one I allowed myself to use). The nice thing with this technique is that it allowed me to collect information within seconds and it kept me true to my goal of staying away from the Web.

My use of the Web was very limited. I permitted myself one to two 15 minutes bursts of connection with people who matter. After all, connecting with each other (deeply and meaningfully) is perhaps the greatest opportunity the Web offers us. But investing in friendship is a long-term endurance. If you’re relying on only a few media like Twitter, you’re giving up one of the most important things in life.

SAYING NO TO TWITTER

How to say no to Twitter? Simple: just don’t use Twitter. 🙂

What I found out though, is what a fundamental and simple communication tool Twitter is, depending on how you use it. For me, Twitter is a convenient and multi-purpose Swiss Army knife of communications. It’s certainly a seduction, and its increasing ubiquity makes it harder to turn it off, but I don’t think that’s the answer. Moderation and monitoring the answer.

Should you do it? It’s up to you. I recommend it. You’ll gain an appreciation for Twitter’s role in our lives.

Right now, I plan to use Twitter as an important communications tool. But I’ve also decided that Technology is far more than just tools and our relationship with it something we must understand and appreciate and monitor very deeply. More on that in future posts.

One thing is for sure: I know now who my real friends on Twitter are now. Who pays attention and who cares. It’s a small number – but it’s the only number I care for.

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Just Saying No to Twitter – Defragmenting My Brain

The Web has me.

Twitter has me.

My Android has me.

I’m a control freak.

Ergo: I will be untangling and untweeting and untexting myself for a while. The Web has begun to use me more than I use it. That’s a problem for anybody – but painful for someone like me who prefers control. I didn’t set out for this. As someone who focuses on our relationship with the Web, I have over time become like an undercover narc who tastes a little too much of the naughty goods. Happens.

So this is what I’m going to do. Starting Monday January 4, I will pack the Twitter bird into a cage. I will be defragmenting my brain. I’ve been in need of a break for some time and now works out for me. I don’t care how much it costs me – a day offline for some can be a lot. I’ve got a problem. I got a solution.

I won’t abandon Technology – in fact I’m going to use it as part of my detox, which I’ll share with you when I’m back from the dark side of the moon. I’ll tell you what I did and didn’t do and how successful and useful my decision turned out. Hopefully I’ll be able to capture some insights with my methods. I also have the support of a good friend, which is always a wonderful blessing. Buddy systems are very important.

Yeah, I know what you’re likely thinking: it’s ridiculous to be addicted to the Web. Frankly, I don’t care what it’s called. I know what I have to do, I’m going to do it and that’s all that matters. You know what’s funny? Back in 2008, I wrote a post – mostly  jocular – about Twitter addiction. I look back at that post now and thank myself for blogging: I can now look back and see some things. :)

I’m turning comments off on this post: I generally believe in open comments, but I also believe in two-way conversation. I won’t be able to provide it, so if you want to you can email me and I’ll read later. If you’re new to this blog – you can follow me on  Twitter but I won’t check notifications for a while.

If you need to get a hold of me you can fill out this form and get back to only if it’s urgent.

The Web is a great seduction. It’s also very useful and is a permanent element in our lives. If you’re not plumbing the dark underbelly of what you’re passionate about, then you’re not passionate enough. Technology is something to be passionate about. But passion is wholly different from love.

I love you, readers and tweeters. See you soon.

Phil

P.S. Köszönöm, Pillangó!

Sorry We Won’t Be Putting Pieces Together This Year

In crazy, upending, fast-changing times, the world starts to fall to pieces. Our ability to cheaply connect at the speed of light is disrupting many game boards – newspapers, traditional marketing, customer service, even personal friendship. Puzzles that were once figured out last century are breaking up.

Not everybody is paying attention to the Web. Many businesses still struggle with the staples of today’s daily communications media: blogs, Twitter, FaceBook and custom social network solutions. And they are staples: Twitter and blogging are now nothing new or shiny. They’re old news. Some of us still talk about these things in order to help the late comers. But there’s nothing original to say about them.

We live in a digital age: which is to say, many things are all or nothing. Some companies will thrive in their business fundamentals and on the Web. Others: they just won’t get through the next few years. The fact is there are many organizations that simply are too dysfunctional in their cultures; short-sighted in their visions; fear-laden in their uncertainties; or too busy to notice the lights have changed.

This doesn’t just go for businesses. It applies to me. To you. To your children. The world always changes. But sometimes, once-in-a-lifetime changes happen right during your lifetime. If you knew ten years ago how the world was going to be today, what difference would that knowledge have made for you?

You don’t know how 2020 will look like. But it won’t look like today.  What are you doing right now to clear your vision? What skills are you learning? What do you think you should unlearn?

Will you be putting the pieces together? What will you say when chaos and change come thrashing through your door? Sorry, we won’t be putting pieces together this year – come back later?

When it’s clear that the world you know so well is breaking apart, it’s time to re-frame your view of that world and start putting pieces together which you never before ever connected. A picture is worth a world. Sometimes it can even save a life. Hope is the picture you must have in mind when putting pieces together in the dark.

Happy New Year my friends.