Friday, 6 November 2009

Some Thoughts on Twitter Lists

Lists. A great way to organize the people you follow and discover new and interesting accounts.

So says the banner appearing at the top of my twitter page on So, I decided to give lists a try and see what use I could make of them.

A twitter list allows you to create a group of people that you can follow all at once, without necessarily following each person individually. When you look at the twitter page for that list, you see all the tweets from only that group of people.

My first thought was that it might be useful to create a celt09 list, containing the participants from our Learning Technologies module in the Postgraudate Diploma in Academic Practice. (You can find this list at sharonlflynn/celt09.) Until then, we had been using a hashtag (#celt09) to filter course-related tweets. Having used this list for a week, I can now observe:
  • This is great for following members of the group with locked (private) Twitter accounts. Their tweets, even using the #celt09 hashtag, don't appear in the search, but do appear in my list.
  • Sometimes participants forget to use the #celt09 hashtag, but I still see their tweets in the list. That's another thumbs up for lists!
  • Most of the class participants are new to Twitter, so most of their tweets are currently course related. Thus, most of the tweets in the list are related to the course. But this is not always going to be the case.
  • Sometimes other Twits (no offence) reply to the class using the #celt09 hashtag, making a (potentially valuable) contribution. These don't appear in the list. That's a disadvantage of lists!
So, I'm still unsure about the use of lists, apart from using them as a way to organise people you follow. Grouping people together around a theme doesn't result in a twitter stream on that theme. It might prove a useful starting point though.

For the moment, I'm going to combine my use of the hashtag with the list, so that I can see everybody and see what everybody is saying about the course.

One area where lists might give added value is around the participants in a conference. Here the list is a short-term artefact, and might result in something close to the theme of the conference. It couldn't replace the conference hashtag though, which has become such a useful backchannel, allowing those not at the conference to follow and participate.

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