Friday, October 17, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Twitter's timeline is changing

I've been following the controversy over Twitter using an algorithm, like Facebook, to determine what people see in the timeline. I don't mind them doing this, and recognize that most people I know disagree. They think the timeline should remain pure.


  1. The new-user experience for Twitter has always been confusing. It's totally understandable that the company wants to fix it.

  2. The timeline never has been pure. Even if they gamed the system only to give more followers to people they like, that still makes the timeline not-pure. Twitter does not have and never has had an arm's length relationship to the content.

  3. Most people who follow you aren't around to see what you post, when you post it. People post items more than once to make up for this. So they are creating their own algorithm, tinkering with the purity of the feed. Even if Twitter didn't change how it works now, it's still a highly artificial experience, based on people learning how to game the system.

  4. Why not have two modes. One for experts, and one for newbies. The newcomers get a highly algorithmic, maybe even editorially curated feed, so that Twitter seems more interesting to them. The old-timers can continue to use the system as-is. And newbies who become experts can self-graduate through a preference.

  5. Think of the expert-level system as the newsroom, where people work on stories, and entertain, anger and mystify each other with wisecracks, snorts and grunts, all of which are over the heads of new users, and likely over the heads of most experts too. Speaking from experience there.

  6. The kind of functionality people ask for would work if Twitter were an open system, subject to competition. Then we could have all kinds of choices of how to sample the news, a market would develop for different methods, and we'd see better news reading systems develop. But Twitter is a closed ecosystem, only one company can try out new ideas. Okay, so why complain when they try something new? How many years do we have to wait to develop new interfaces?

  7. The people who want Twitter to be pure really want a platform without a platform vendor. The web already is that. If you want a commercial and centralized system like Twitter, it can't work like an open system, and it's unreasonable to demand that it does.

Last built: Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 5:50 PM

By Dave Winer, Friday, October 17, 2014 at 7:30 PM. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.