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Twitter introduces Custom Timelines, Storify takes a deep breath

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Updated to include information from Storify CEO Burt Herman 

Just a week after its IPO, Twitter (s twtr) has announced a new feature to the social media site: users can now create “Custom Timelines” that are available for public viewing.

To put it simply, Custom Timelines are kind of like a cross between Twitter’s List system and a curating tool like Storify. The intention for Custom Timelines is to enable users to select tweets from a feed to craft a cohesive story about a particular topic. But unlike Lists, which operate like a custom grouping of users, Custom Timelines allow for hand-picked specific tweets to keep in line with a specific theme. For example, Twitter #music curates the best celebrity tweets by sifting through individual entries by superstars. It can also be used for more subtle (and hard to automate) parameters, like Vines only.

Custom Timelines are, at this point, only available via Tweetdeck. They’re also geared towards hand-curating only — automated Custom Timeline building requires a custom API that would need a more experienced programmer to deploy with any elegance.

The feature is a great concept, if somewhat late to the party. At this point, a Custom Timeline would be best used as an embeddable tool to bring a curated Twitter discussion to another website — something that Storify has managed to do very thoughtfully for years. But, the convenience of being able to stay within Twitter (or, more specifically, Tweetdeck) to accomplish the same task isn’t worth sneezing at.

However, it would be more usable if it was available via Twitter’s website and had a much more user-friendly automated system. At this point, the Twitter stream can run so fast that catching all the details on a particular issue requires power-use tactics of only the best users. Also, it would be a great way to jerry-rig a repository for Vines, which often get lost in Twitter’s system. But it doesn’t feel like Custom Timelines is covering any new ground, and that’s not a great sign for the long term.

Update: Storify CEO Burt Herman sent a short statement to All Things D, which has a strong emphasis on collaboration between the company and Twitter: “We are exploring how we can incorporate the Custom Timelines into Storify, which lets you collect media from all social networks and anywhere online, along with adding your own text to provide context for stories.”

5 Responses to “Twitter introduces Custom Timelines, Storify takes a deep breath”

  1. Spook SEO

    Twitter should really be serious with its moves today. They cannot be all too sloppy or too unnoticeable. They are already betting on stocks and this is the best way to boost their market appearance. If they can work with other able social networking sites, then, the better.

  2. Like you “Storify” was the first word that popped into my head when I read about timelines. What an oddball name. “Custom Timelines” have they been living outside the curation bubble?

    It does seem a little strange and a little non-committal from Twitter to release it only via Tweetdeck. Is this a hook to bring people to Tweetdeck? I doubt that.

    For sure it’s a sign that social network content is becoming more and more embeddable.

    Is Linkedin missing the game. Embeddable posts, embeddable people etc. They do have slidedeck to show them how.

    Will Facebook feel the need to let people curate their timelines?

    I read a post by Mike Isaac on AllThingsD taunting Twitter product management indecision.

    This seems to confirm it for me.

  3. Ang Kaji Sherpa

    This really nice to reaching people & communicate, introduce to each other easy way to make friends relation in world wide. so that i like to make this wide range relation between with Nice friends.