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The Future Of Twitter And News: Down The Algorithmic Rabbit Hole

The Future Of Twitter And News: Down The Algorithmic Rabbit Hole

January 23, 2012
In our Internet space, in this World Wide Web of information and news curation, we can't help but be overwhelmed. Most of us can neither narrow down the amount of news apps we have, nor can we seem to get a handle on how many RSS feeds we subscribe to. But will that change?

Twitter and the News: Present and Future

Although Twitter, in itself, is like a great RSS reader, there are tools that break it down for us even more. Twitter is a constant stream of what’s happening now, in real time, and with Twitter lists, it’s even easier for us to streamline the content we want, when we want it. But what happens when we need all of this information broken down even more? What happens when we’re following thousands of people on Twitter? We can’t possibly keep up with all of this information being thrown at us — can we? In recent updates, Twitter changed its interface, adding new features and messing up some others. They added “Discover” to its arsenal. Discover is the section of Twitter that helps you find more relevant tweets. As you use it, it becomes smarter, it learns what you want to see and what you want to read. This was the first step toward Twitter’s new direction: smart curation. With the recent purchase of Summify, and chatter of Twitter acquiring Flipboard, one can’t help but wonder how much more of a news aggregator, and simplifier, Twitter plans to be. Both of these services use smart algorithms to cater to users’ tastes, and it seems Twitter is pushing through, trying to use these tools more to its own advantage. Twitter has its bird’s eye view of these algorithm-based services, and they are swooping in to build something “greater” than what they have in their current state. It’s the snowball effect: Twitter is rolling atop all of these other services, the ones we already use and love, and adding them into their already massive toolbox.

How Will You Consume Your News?

So, what does this mean? Is Twitter trying to be more like Google? That’s a scary thought. But with their trends and promoted topics and users, the advertising is creeping in, so I wouldn’t put competing more with Google past them. These social networks have become social searches, social advertising. Not to mention Twitter’s main goal is to become the main news consumption source on the Web and everywhere else. They’re simplifying everything, bringing in more users and more content. It has become something that isn’t just about the personal tweets, or the community, but rather the breaking news and of streaming information. Is there anything wrong with that? Personally, I use Twitter for work and for play. I really value the community there, but I also use it to stay updated on the latest news and happenings around the Web, in real time. But, to me, both of these things are equally as important. Can we depend on Twitter, and the other services they are eating up, to provide us with an experience fit for us? Or do we want to toggle the algorithms off, and curate the content on our own? It’s a double-edged sword, really: If we choose to curate all of this information on our own, we’re overwhelmed; if we choose to allow Twitter and its robot army (e.g., algorithm-based services) to do so for us, it may not provide us with what we need. I guess my question to you is this: What does this algorithm-based news consumption mean for Twitter's future, but more importantly, what does it mean for Twitter's users?

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