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If you follow a large number of people on Twitter, the volume of tweets you have to sift through can quickly become overwhelming. You can organize the list of people you follow on Twitter into groups using many of the third-party Twitter clients, cutting down on some of the chatter, but until now there’s been no way to do it using the service itself. Well, Twitter has finally acknowledged this need, and is currently testing a new feature called “Lists” that will finally build groups into the service itself.
Accompanying the new feature will be a Lists API that developers can then use to integrate the new tool into their client and web-app platforms. Strictly speaking, Twitter Lists appear to be more of a discovery and networking tool, at least as intended by the developer, than something that helps you organize the people you follow, but it should work both ways. Here’s how it works, as described by the official Twitter blog:
The idea is to allow people to curate lists of Twitter accounts. For example, you could create a list of the funniest Twitter accounts of all time, athletes, local businesses, friends, or any compilation that makes sense.
Once you’ve created a list, anyone browsing your profile (the lists are public by default, but can be made private) can see your lists and follow every person within them with a single button click. Talk about a great way to acquire an entire potential client or collaborator list in one fell swoop! Also handy if you happen to have a secret paparazzi-style celebrity watcher account. Not that I know anyone with one of those…ahem.
You can also use the Lists feature to filter the people you follow, so that you can drill down to relevant content and cut through some of the chatter if you a have large and unwieldy Twitter base. As of right now, I use multiple Twitter accounts to accomplish this, something which works, but is clumsy, and sometimes leads to me tweeting accidentally with accounts no one is watching.
There’s no word yet on when we can expect this to go live, but Tweetie developer Loren Brichter recently confirmed via Twitter that support for it would be included in upcoming versions of the newly announced Tweetie 2 software, and I suspect all other major clients will follow suit.
How do you currently manage Twitter groups, or do you live without? How important is this new feature to you?