Today’s top story in tech? Microblogging site Twitter has bought Summize, which was until today a separate company which offered something that shoulda been part of Twitter itself from the get-go: real-time search of the gazillions of brief messages from zillions of people that make up the surging sea of information that is Twitter. At the moment, Summize has morphed into search,twitter.com, which isn’t really integrated with the rest of the service. But it seems a safe bet that it won’t take long until a deeper melding happens, and that Twitter will be vastly better for it. (Here’s Twitter’s own blog post on the acquisition and the thinking behind it.)
Without Summize’s search, Twitter was sort of like a gargantuan party that was such a mob scene that you most likely ended up hanging out only with folks you already knew or who you encountered through pure serendipity. With Summize search, it’s going to be a cinch to find conversations you want to join and people who share your interests. Already, searches such as iPhone battery life and Iraq news make for good reading, and after I blogged about my new Humanscale Freedom chair, I idly searched for it–and was startled to discover that the chair has been the subject of lots of Tweets.
As a Twitter fan–I am, by the way, harrymccracken over there–I’m looking forward to seeing search become a big part of how I use Twitter. But I’m also thinking about other ways I’d improve the service–aside from the obvious hope that its days of frequent outages are behind it. So herewith, a short, highly personal wishlist.
I wish Twitter had…
1. Threaded conversations–real ones, I mean. The most interesting Tweets are part of discussions among two or more people, but the current form of threading on Twitter is a kludge that doesn’t work very well. It’s often hard to tell what a reply’s replying to, and impossible to read a conversation all on one page. A service called Quotably attempts to address these issues, but it only works some of the time…and who wants to go to a different site to experience what should be one of Twitter’s core features?
2. Threaded permalinks. Speaking of threading, I often want to point people to Twitter dialogs–sometimes ones from the distant past. I’d love a way to create a link to any snippet of conversation I chose.
3. Photos in Tweets. TwitPic lets you share photos via Twitter, and for what it does, it works quite nicely. But I wish that there was a way to make images show up in Tweets themselves. Maybe Twitter could even use MMS to push those photos out to folks who follow Twitter on their phones. (My take on Twitter is skewed by the fact that I mostly use it on the Web.)
4. More ways to find really worthwhile people and discussions. Right now, I discover new people on Twitter largely by accident or word of mouth, and I know that there are countless conversations going on that I might want to join…if only I knew they were happening. I’m sure Summize’s technology will help here. And maybe there should be a mechanism for rating Tweeters and/or the Tweets they produce.
5. Features that were just slightly more like e-mail. I say “just slightly” because it would be easy to ruin Twitter by complicating it. But I’d like to see something akin to an address book in Twitter; currently, your lists of people you’re following and those who are following you are separate and (I think) permanently arranged in the order they were added. And Twitter users have both user names and screen names, a distinction that’s fuzzy enough that I keep forgetting what’s what and when to use which one.
One thing I hope Twitter never does is allow you to create Tweets that are longer than 140 characters long. The fact that you’re forced into haiku mode when Tweeting is a huge part of the joy of Twitter…
So how would you change Twitter if you could?