When Twitter launched, the obvious way to see what was going on was to follow people. For those who were looking to promote something on Twitter, they needed to mingle with whales to get the @tention of their surrounding jellyfishes. Quite frankly, the platform was kind of a pain to use, to understand, and to keep track of. Today, it’s the other way around. Through search and RSS, no need to follow some arrogant prick just because everyone else is and that’s the way things go. Simply target the keywords around which you are interested to meet other people, wait for those words to be pronounced, and jump instantly on the neck of the user who used your keyword. This is exactly what we expected of the Web: Say something, the whole world can hear you now.
The problem with Twitter clients such as Thwirl is that nothing is filtered: It doesn’t matter what someone you follow say, you will receive it, read it, and realize you deeply don’t care. The consequence is that you lose 5 seconds just to read and process a tweet. Multiply that by the number of useless tweets you read in a year: It translates into hours of lost productivity.
To increase your productivity with Twitter, grab the stream of the people you follow, take it to any kind of feed manager that allows filtering by keywords, chose the keywords you want to track, grab the output feed and chose where you want to receive it. But instead of doing it with a restrained number of people, why not monitor the whole Twitterverse for those keywords, and meet someone new everyday?
So do we still need followers on Twitter? Alas yes, for the simple reason that someone with no friend is a freak in our societies. You can jump at anybody’s neck on Twitter, but if people check your profile and see that no one follows you, they think “spammer”. Your friends are your seal of trustworthiness. Where having friends on Twitter was a way to grab more discussions, it has regressed to a more basic function of showing your social authority and trust capital. Interesting trend, don’t you think?