Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why I love Twitter's 'People Similar To You' feature

I've only just noticed a Twitter feature which I think is a very healthy development: People Similar To You.
Click through to your twitter profile page and you'll find a small collection of people Twitter has run an algorithm against and decided are people 'similar to you'.
On further investigastion I find it's been trialled quietly since the summer - but only with limited numbers of users. Please check and let me know if you are seeing it on your profile?
If I had to stab a wild guess I'd say it was using similar matching technology as found in @MrTweet - which always had a pretty good hit rate for me.
I have to say the first four 'People Similar to You' delivered to me (and it was just four on the evening of November 25, 2010) were all people I'm comfortable with being described as 'similar to'.

Whether or not the others are we shall see. I'll tweet them all to ask for thoughts shortly...

In the meantime - I really like this development. I like it because it suggests Twitter is taking much more seriously our interest in people very similar to us (not just who, for example, use the term social media marketing from time to time - clogging up the twitter arteries with 'internet marketer' spam).

I've never thought much of Twitter trends. They reveal only the lowest common denominator and smack of a broadcast approach being layered on to a seriously adhoc network play.

Which is why I shouted out for Trends Among Friends - revealing what is important among my friends seems more valuable to me.

People Similar To Me seems like exactly the kind of building block that can make Trends Among Friends work.

While I'm really not too fussed about how appalling Gillian McKeith has been on this evening's I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (ITV 1 in the UK) I am concerned about the metadata being expressed by Tamara, Tony, Neil and Mark.

It could prove to be another wonderful way in which twitter enables us to discover people who care about the same things we do, right now.

And if they are wise they will use this not to message us, but to bring us together to help add value to the thing we care about through intelligent and scalable co-creation.

I have my fingers crossed for it. Though I will note, because I expect others so to do, Twitter will be wise to throw in a little serendipity. The role of the publisher is often to introduce us to things we didn't know we needed to know. The risk of a sealed silo of similarity  is clear and one I'd expect any org with the clear understanding of group forming network theory that twitter appears to have to be very careful to avoid.

I mean, it doesn't want to be Facebook, now does it?


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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?