February 02, 2009

Welcome To The Twittersphere

By Eric Berlin of Online Media Cultist (FriendFeed/Twitter)

As Twitter grows ever larger and more vibrant, so too grows the desire to extract meaningful data out of all of the conversations and information-sharing that's taking place.

Enter Twittersphere, a blessedly barebones service that comes from "Thomas Marban, the creator of the excellent popurls," according to Duncan Riley at The Inquisitr.

When you arrive at Twittersphere, there's a list of article names, and not that many at that. One or two at the top have very minimal, subdued red vertical lines to indicate "hotness", presumably, with subsequent stories trending from orange to yellow to green. The site tagline reads that "the current mélange of the most hyped stories from social messaging utility twitter.com, a screen into the greenhouse of worldshaking linkage and clutter."

And indeed, the feel of the site is clean and minimal enough to make you believe that this is a clutter-free zone. There are only three navigation links. The default view is "short," giving us the up-to-the-moment hottest stories being shared on Twitter, and then there is simply "medium" and "long term" links to see what is popular over relatively longer stretches of time.

The amount of time that those stretches represent, how the site collects its data, how "hotness" is determined, and how often the articles are refreshed are not indicated. Which, I suppose, is the point. There's nothing really interactive about the site and nothing to get in the way of simply seeing what links are popular according to the Twitter community.

I like the idea of Twittersphere, but fear there's not quite enough going on to keep people coming back in numbers. Personally, I'd go to a site more often that deals primarily with "RTs," or "retweets," those links that have gotten picked up from one Twitter profile and are passed around by others using the convention of RT. It would be fun to see not only which are the top links by RT, but which Twitter profiles share popular information, and which profiles are popular because they themselves are big sharers of information, or big RTers I suppose. This bit would go a long way in helping to measure influence on Twitter beyond mere numbers of followers. The metrics for how the site might be put together can be based on followers, number of RTs, link clicks, and some kind of algorithm that someone more technical than me could put together!

If this service doesn't exist already, I wouldn't be surprised if we'll see something like it quite soon as the array of Twitter-related services is growing nearly as fast as Twitter itself.

Read more by Eric Berlin at Online Media Cultist