Recently, Twitter underwent a major overhaul of the Suggested User List. Instead of having one big list of tweeps picked by the staff, there is now a directory organized by category, and no more mass following:
… now we let users browse into the areas they are interested in and choose who they want to follow from these lists
While facilitating the adoption of Twitter for new users, the SUL also offers an incredible followers’ boost for the “suggested ones”. A NYT article mentions the name of Mr. Johnson, a regular tweep who suddenly found his name on the SUL and saw his followers’ count jump from 5,000 to +600,000 in just a few weeks. Because of that boost, his Twitter name was also published on the cover of a TIME magazine.
By making celebrities overnight, Twitter has become more than just the technology provider in the Twitter game. Twitter also became a Kingmaker of some sort, propelling some users to the tip of the pyramid, hence influencing what people read in a big way.
Against that system is RSS-pioneer Dave Winer. Dave Winer often wrote about the SUL and how it gave Twitter too much information control over its own social network. Dave Winer also suggests that Twitter outcasts from the list any user that does not pet Twitter nicely.
Recently, Dave Winer fell head over heels when he realized that the microblogging company added his name to the newly-designed SUL. He seemed pretty pissed by it. Why? Because the same day he found out he was on the list, Dave Winer asked for his name to be removed from the SUL.
As we can see, on January 22nd, in a matter of a few hours, Dave Winer gained an above-the-average amount of followers. The guy would probably have gained influence power from the exposition of the SUL, but he decided that it was against his ethics, and so he took a stand for it.