Revisiting Twitter Lists

Back in May I tore up my Twitter and put everything in neat lists. When all was said and done, I had 10 lists with everyone in a neat little bucket. It was beautiful, I could turn to any list and have that twitter hose just give me what I was looking for. But 6 months later I have immense regrets, but not for the reason I though there might be.

When I did this, my big fear was losing connections with people and topics. I moved all my college sports accounts into one list and then I noticed I wasn’t always up on top of the news because there wasn’t any cross-pollination. That is, I would swipe between lists but there were days sometimes where I didn’t review a list and I would miss important things. It was clear, segregation was a bad idea because I no longer had a feed that just rolled everything I was interested in. A weird thing happened during this experiment, my want to be free of the noise meant I wasn’t exposed to any noise. A quiet room is comforting until you realize you are not part of the conversation.

Now the big thing that got me thinking of a new direction was Coleman’s “bestof” list. This best of is perfect because I can bring the best people into a list and let it quickly keep be abreast of the topics I care about. Then I can of course still drop into my baseball or BIM lists if I feel like I need a deeper dive. So while I was traveling back to Spatial Networks HQ on the airplane I created my “what matters” list which basically does exactly what Coleman did. I still have my niche lists but now I have what I was missing and for all the reasons why Coleman liked it too.

But I also realized there was something else I was missing. I got my Twitter follow accounts down below 100. Initially I liked this, meant that I was only following those that I really felt mattered and the rest got put in lists based on their topics (or even in the “what matters” list). BUT, this basically broke a part of Twitter that I didn’t think I cared about. The part of twitter that forces you content was in a way something that I actually used from time to time to find new voices. By giving the beast nothing to churn on, it in turn gave me junk back. So I went head and followed 500 people and what do you know, things are back to normal. While I’m not using the main feed as my way to read Twitter, I can always go there or the “For You” section and see things that I might have missed.

In the end, the change was simple, new best of list and follow the people that matter back. I’ve enjoyed working with twitter again, and I still can limit any list I wish when I don’t want noise. I may unfollow some people, add some more but this seems to be the best compromise. I’m no longer bankrupt was I was with Twitter in May 2019, but I also am not on my own island. Time will tell if this was a good idea…


Twitter Lists and Tweet Bankruptcy

With politics and hatred all over social media these days, it’s hard not to be nostagic of the Twitter we all enjoyed between 2008-2012. I look at my twitter feed these days and it isn’t focused. It’s probably just like yours, full of bots, yahoos, idiots and morons. I started looking through who I followed in the past few years and it’s not pretty. I really miss interacting with people on Twitter, rather than just posting memes.

So I thought about declaring tweet bankruptcy. Just delete the account and start fresh. But that’s not helpful. Sure I did it with my Facebook account but let’s be honest that’s just good practice. With Twitter though I don’t want to just blow away all my tweets (looks like over 41,000 of them), but reduce noise. Looking at my follows there are some basic groups:

  • Spatial Networks
  • Baseball
  • College Sports
  • Spatial/GIS
  • Programming
  • Humor
  • News

So then all I need to do is put everyone in lists (or multiple lists) and then I can segrate my twitter experience to my needs. I spent the weekend going through every follow I had (over 1,200) and move them into lists. But at the same time I culled my follows. I wanted to reduce it down to 200-400 follows. This way my main feed is what I consider value, but i can still enjoy conversations with people that aren’t follows.

It really has helped me get more value out of twitter. When I open Twitter on my phone I get only those accounts that I feel like are important enough to me that I should always see them. They all come out of those lists above. But then on my computer, I can use TweetDeck to have my lists always availabe and I can follow work related news or anything else with ease. The other nice thing is I can follow/unfollow people without worry that I’ll lose them. They will always be in my lists.

I can’t remember when Twitter had created lists but it has been a very long time. I resisted them because I thought the firehose was th best method for tweets but I’m enjoying this much more because I see tweets, especially in my Spatial/GIS list that I missed before because there was too much noise.