Twitter’s Big Week

In addition to hosting the first board meeting since we invested, Twitter did two really big things this past week that I think are going to make the service a lot more useful to me (and hopefully you).

They are both in the area of finding other people you know on Twitter. To date, Twitter has made it nearly impossible to find friends on Twitter. That’s a very big shortcoming of an inherently social service. It sort of makes me wonder how Twitter got any users at all.

Here’s the new "find and invite" tab in Twitter.

Find_and_invite

The first new service they launched last week was people search. You can now type a name, last or first or both, a location, a URL, pretty much anything someone would put in a twitter profile, in search of people you want to follow. I’ve added about 15-20 people this way in the past couple of days.

The second service was launched quietly on friday, so quietly that they don’t even have a post about it on the Twitter blog. It’s the gmail address book integration. Here’s what that looks like.

Twitter_gmail

I just tried it out and it worked great for me. I don’t really use gmail, but from time to time I’ll forward my mail to gmail and use it as a backup. So I have a small address book, certainly less than 500 names in it. Even so, I found three people in Twitter that I had no idea were users and I am now following them.

Twitter gets better and better as you follow more people. And now that the default is following on the web and not SMS, the signal to noise issues that plagued the service in the early days are much less.

If you tried Twitter early on and found it useless, I suggest you give it a second try. Upload your gmail address book (don’t worry you won’t spam your whole book), and search for a few friends. Get a following list of at least 20-30 people. Then get a desktop client like twitterific or a firefox plug in like twitbin.

My bet (literally) is that you’ll find following your friends on twitter to be habit forming. I certainly have. I know that Bijan just went for an exhausting run and Scotty is going out with friends in Vienna. And those are things I like to know.