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Twitter for 'Really' Busy People

Written by on July 4, 2009

A number of people have pointed me towards "Twitter for busy people", to which I responded "Twitter for busy people is crap. How are mouse-over images an efficient way to read text? What where they thinking?"

Don't get me wrong though. BlueJava, the company behind ‘Twitter for Busy People', is actually on to something. Once you reach 50+ followers it starts to get really complicated to follow the constant stream of tweets.

There is a real risk of ‘missing' tweets from people you really care about (as opposed to people you are just casually following). And you will be wasting a lot of your time because you have to scan through everything, instead of just being able to read a specific type of tweets.

The standard Twitter stream is thus really inefficient.

What we need is a Twitter app that can:

  • Group people you follow into specific categories, and present them separately
  • Filter their tweets (e.g. remove duplicates or unwanted topics)
  • Is highly automatic
  • Can be used at a glance, meaning that you do not have to interact with it, unless you want to respond to something.
  • Is exceptionally efficient to use.

Sadly, Twitter for Busy People doesn't solve any one of those.

To see what Mashable wrote today, I have to move my mouse over the Mashable image. It will then display a pop-up showing the latest tweet they posted. But I am not interest in the latest tweet. I am interested in all their latest tweets since the last time I checked. To get that I have to move my mouse down to ‘more', click on it and then I can read the rest of the tweets.

And you have to repeat this process for every single person you want to check. It is a great idea and it is a great concept; but it is far from efficient.

I measured their interaction using my Usability Analyzer, and if you have 100 followers, and you want to check 15 of them, and you do it 20 times per day. You are going to spend 29 minutes 20 seconds just working the interface. And that is not even counting the time it takes to actually read the tweets. It is just the time it takes to ‘move the mouse around, and clicking on the right parts of the screen'.

That is a lot of time that could be used more efficiently on other things.


When it comes to efficiency, you can basically divide it into 3 levels.

1: Automation; which removes the burden from you to the system. For instance, my iRobot vacuum cleaner automatically cleans my floor. I do not even have to be home when it works it magic.

But you cannot automate everything. Just as you cannot automate reading a book, nor can you, in this case, automate reading tweets.

2: At a glance; which allows you to get what you need simply by looking at it. For instance, my thermometer will tell me how hot it is simply by looking at it and my iPod will read me a book, simply by playing it through my headphones.

But there are things you cannot do at a glance. You cannot drive a car simply by looking at it. Nor can you post a tweet simply by looking at your keyboard. So...

3: Doing something; which forces you to interact with the application and to get involved personally.

This is the least efficient way to use an application, and as such you must do everything you can to make the interaction as easy and efficient as possible. And you must create smart and intelligent interaction methods, that anticipates and reacts to what people are doing.

Twitter for *Really* Busy People

What we need is Twitter for Really busy people. We need an app that can do all of the above, and give you everything at a glance.

It turns out that this is actually pretty easy to do with either TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop.

They both allow you to create panels based on either a group of people, or a Twitter search. You can even filter the result to remove retweets or annoying ‘trending topics'. And, if you are using TweetDeck, you can even get a list of the most popular links in that group.

You can have one panel containing tweets from business contacts, another containing tweets from your friends and family. Yet another containing links about a specific topic.

This is how it looks:

With TweetDeck or Seesmic you can manage and stay on top of things in a far more efficient way. It does take a little time to setup and to create the groups. But once you do, everything is delivered to you ‘at a glance'. You do not have to move your mouse around. You can focus your time on the reading part.

Oh... and remember that ‘A better, and far more efficient way to make "Twitter for Busy People" is simply to unfollow the ones who creates noise.'

BTW: All I need now is for either TweetDeck or Seesmic to be able to handle RSS feeds too. That would really be something.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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