Recently, Twitter launched its list feature which allows users to create lists of people one follows so that they are grouped and their updates can be viewed without the noise of others one follows. Some client applications have already done the same thing. Now the game changer is that lists are officially supported by Twitter. I guess, many hope that these lists can then be used in the clients as well.
Many people have already written about Twitter lists and how they are not quite sure how they will be used (Steve Wheeler), or how they think lists will change the social economy (Dave Troy), or where the dangers lie within public lists (Mark Trapp).
I know that categorizations help me. Heck, I do it every day by tagging resources in Diigo to be able to hopefully find them again when I need them, though the search is most often done in Delicious as I prefer their bookmark panel. Putting things in categories is neat and I know where something belongs. I don’t have a problem with it when I call it tagging because I can give the resources any number of tags / keywords.
Lists and groups, however, seem to have a different connotation. They are stronger categorizations and identifiers that can have lots of impact as Mark Trapp’s and Dave Troy’s blog posts indicate. I have not heard complaints about tagging resources with the “wrong” tag or a defamatory tag (maybe I haven’t looked close enough?). It always happens that people disagree on categorizations and be it only because they come from different backgrounds and contexts in which they encounter a thing or a person. Of course, it is not nice to be publicly be labeled “douchebag” list, but except for blocking this person on Twitter I couldn’t really do anything else.
Would the Twitter lists be as discussed if the lists were called tags? Is the list feature so hotly discussed because it categorizes people and not their blogs / websites / articles / videos etc.? Are the lists thus more personal?
I had set up groups when I checked out Mixero and ran into the problems of not being able to classify people in just one group. However, to avoid seeing tweets twice (the whole point of creating groups for me was to reduce the noise), I did put everybody in just one group which was hard. As these groups are entirely private, it did not matter and I couldn’t hurt anybody’s feelings publicly. Currently, I am still debating whether I should replicate these groups in Twitter itself or whether to find a different classification system and which groups I want to make public and which ones to keep private. I will keep an eye on the Twitter lists and see if I can get comfortable with them.
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