Last night I could not sleep. This happens to me every once in a while, particularly when I both haven’t been on a regular sleep schedule and am excited about something. Typically what will end up happening is I will lie in my bed for a little bit, have my mind race about whatever is on it, and eventually decide my mind is not relaxed enough so I will take out my computer or phone to do something. In this case, that thing was finally setting up lists on my Twitter account. For those of you who don’t know, including me, lists allow you to group the people you are (or aren’t) following so that you can read tweets specifically from that group of people. I will get back to this.
I’ve had an odd relationship with Twitter in the past. I first got it in high school when Brian Williams kept going on about it every night on the news. The day I got it I posted about a dozen somewhat satirically minuscule and unimportant posts. I quickly got bored of the app. This was probably because I had no clue who to follow and few friends committed to it. For the next couple years, ever once in a while I would be inspired to pick it back up. Eventually I had started following many different feeds; some news stations, some musicians, and some actual friends. Every time I used twitter though, I would get aggravated with it, because the news stations and musicians would post the same thing 15 times in hopes you would actually see one of them which buried the tweets from actual friends who I actually cared about.
I guess lists attempts to solve this problem, but I don’t get why Twitter makes this so difficult to set up and use them. This seems to me to be one of the most basic problems about Twitter, that I just get one huge feed with repeating messages which causes me to stop reading. This is insane! Am I the only one who wants to be able to easily choose exactly which type of posts I’m reading? There are times that I want news, it should be easy to get just the news. There are times I want to read my funny posts, I should get just funny posts. There are times I want to see what my friends are going on about, why can’t I choose just that! On top of this, I haven’t even found the way to access my lists on my phone, pretty much the only place I want to read tweets anyways. Online I have to go to my account, go to the people I’m following, go to lists, and then select the list before accessing the filtered feed.
Here is the icing on the cake for me, why does Twitter make it so hard to set up lists? I am lucky I only am following a little over 200 people right now. Last night, in my boredom, I went person by person, putting them in lists I created. For each person; click the more options about them, click add/remove from lists, select the lists, click out, repeat, repeat, repeat. It was one of the most tedious tasks ever. But why? Why doesn’t Twitter make placing people in groups easier?
- Make an “add/remove to lists” page, at least when on your computer, that has each person you’re following in a column on the left, and columns for each group next to them. That way, I can quickly go down the list person by person clicking which lists they belong in with out all of those extra clicks.
- Make the process somewhat automatic. Just like the iPhone knows that when you add camera, gallery, and photo editing apps together into a folder it will probably be named “photography” or something, Twitter should automatically create some groups for me. For example, once I have maybe 3+ news sources, a list called “news” should automatically be created and populated for me. Twitter accounts should already have tags (i.e. news, sports, single person, team…), so if I start separating let’s say Forbes and the Economist out of the news list which they might have previously been placed, into their own list, Twitter should see that news is not the tag in common that I want for them, but money/economy instead.
I know, you’re getting to some of the last paragraphs and I haven’t talked about Google+ yet. That is because it is exactly the same problem. Personally, I like the idea of Google+, that social networks should be centered around me sharing things with people instead of other people coming to look at my content as it is on Facebook. But, setting up groups is soooo tedious. Instead, why not allow you to identify yourself as members as certain groups (or better yet, import them from Facebook) so that when someone wants to create a circle of people in their life they have a nearly perfect starting place that they merely need to tweak.
Concrete example: I am a student at the University of Miami (the one in Florida). In the real world there is only one group of people who are current students at the University of Miami. If Google+ allowed these people (or the ones who cared enough about that social group) to identify themselves as being members, then there wouldn’t be a need for every single student to add every single other student to a group they made. Additionally, subgroups would be even easier to set up. In essence, I believe that the idea of groups making it easy for people to share content is great, but these groups in life already exist and are absolute, why can’t Google+ figure them out for me?