Looking At The World The Way Someone Else Does
One of my favorite features of news.me, the iPad news reader from Betaworks, is that you can "look over the shoulder" of someone else and see what they are reading. Yesterday Twitter rolled out a simple feature that lets you look at any user's timeline.
I love features like this. They allow discovery with a little bit of voyeurism. Want to see what Ashton Kutcher sees when he logs into Twitter? Now you can. If you want to see what my twitter timeline looks like, here it is.
I just went to look at my friend Andy Weissman's twitter timeline. And in the process I added a couple of new people to follow.
These "looking over the shoulder" features are awesome. I'd love to see more services offer things like this. I think they will result in more engagement, more discovery, and ultimately more value to the user.
I believe this was a feature that Twitter had in its very early days. It would be interesting to know why they deprecated it, and then restored it.I think that is clearly something Twitter can do because all (almost) the data is public, but it’s not the case for so many services…
Are you possibly thinking of the original handling of @replies? If the first character of the tweet is an @reply it is only shown to those who also follow the person replied to, but this wasn’t always so. In the early days you’d see every tweet, and when this behavior changed people said it would harm discoverability.Friendfeed had a feature like this, to see the stream as another person. I like having it on Twitter now.
No, I meant exactly this feature: having the ability to see another user’s stream.
Julien’s talking about the “with friends” view that used to be available via the Web, where you saw both the individual’s tweets and the tweets of everyone they were following. It quietly disappeared a couple of years ago, during the feature pruning era.
the features that twitter took away mostly were due to inability to scale them
It’s a nice feature but (obviously) it doesn’t show tweets from protected accounts.When the feature was announced I tweeted that since my wife’s account is protected, looking at my “timeline” would be like looking through my eyes, but without color.
i’m not a fan of protected accounts. i try not to follow them
I agree, but she has to keep hers protected for professional reasons.
i figured as much.
Why is this not creepy? It isn’t, but it should be, in some contexts or situations, shouldn’t it?
I’ve always thought ‘Twitter Protected Account’ was a great oxymoron.
There is a use case for Twitter protected accounts which is to send it private info, and then follow it or allow internal employees to follow it. It becomes like a real-time competitive info channel that’s flowing inside your stream. Powerful. We have been doing it for a while.
Hmmm. Not sure how that play with the total market. That is why we are doing a more anonymous approach along with the recently met… where two parties can meet up virtual/live having the choice to take it to that level if so desired.This can be a good marketing tool using celeb to endorse something and/or build their name rec to gain more $$ for that.
bizarre, I just noticed this twitter feature this morning and I don’t usually dig into Twitter’s features and wondered how long it had been there. It’s a great way to discover new people to follow., the best feature I’ve seen Twitter incorporate for a while. There was a third party service that allowed you to do this at one time. Can’t remember the name of it. Just need filters now.This post falls nicely into “Feature Friday” for portfolio companies.
maybe i should formalize feature friday
for sure, if the portfolio co’s can push out enough new features 😉
Thnx Fred, I’ll check it out.After a period of Twitter malaise, I’ve rediscovered its contextual and conversational power recently with exchanges over everything from sparkling rose to Tumblr to curation.Getting to know people’s interest footprints will make it easier to make new connections around shared passions. That’s what the social web is all about to me.
Have you seen http://www.mirror.me ?Pretty interesting. Shows you an “interest community” based on your Twitter activity and gives some social network metrics.
Found mirror.me recently.Bill Tai (founder/funder) is friend from my Creative days and pinged me to look at it a while back.The big challenge/upside with curation and context-based interest communities is making them actionable. The holy grail of these niche communities is discovery. Solve that and you have something significant.
I love that Twitter (and others) are moving more and more into this direction. I think it’s a great way to do discovery and it makes a ton of sense for someone like Twitter to do it directly.We’ve actually had a view like this within knowabout.it since last fall (disclosure: I was working a contract gig at bit.ly when they started working in this direction for the news.me project and the potential conflict of interest I saw developing gave me the extra nudge to leave and focus full time on knowabout.it — which btw is just about to roll out a completely new design AND open up to a true beta in about two weeks)One thing I can say in watching the numbers on this type of feature within my own small sample set is that, it’s a really cool ‘sometimes’ feature but it’s not something people will do or remember to do all the time…still it’s a great little extra for those times you are just looking for ‘something interesting’.The ‘stumble’ feature that Twitter added is also another great feature in this direction as well.
I’d often wondered how many at-replies someone like Fred gets, and whether they could possibly keep up with them all. Search was a clunky way to find that out, I’ve used this feature for a few people to satisfy my curiosity.I suspect once the novelty wears off that I won’t use it often. Its nice to have, but not essential.
i run through all my @mentions and twitter search results at least once a day. search in particular is a pain because of many dups
Twitter’s new at mention emails will probably help some people manage this better (I have long used my pu.ly service just as a way to be very responsive on Twitter without having to be ‘on’ twitter or tweet deck all the time).
I don’t always get them….
Twitter or pu.ly emails? Twitter has a number of alert settings now for emails…you can get an email for each at mention by someone that you follow or an email for when you are retweeted…I don’t know if it’s for *every* at mention yet.pu.ly sends you an email for every at mention to you (regardless of following/follower relationship) and as it was partially inspired by disqus (Andrew Parker initially gave me the idea behind pu.ly because he liked what Disqus was doing with email), the *real* beauty of pu.ly is that you can just reply to the email and have your response directly posted to twitter (of course you need to remember to include the at mention if you want it to be a reply)…Anyway – if it’s my service that isn’t working for you def. ping me @falicon or drop me an email directly and let me know…and btw that goes for any of my stuff (ie. all the wow.ly tools, knowabout.it, or any of the other things I randomly mention that I’ve built via my grossly out of date blog -> http://blog.botfu.com )
Twitter- I’m not using Pu.lY. I’m in general very happy with most ofknowabout.it, it surfaces things I wouldn’t have found otherwise.And you really should get twitter to by that tech out, it would be so mucheasier for them (plus yet another avenue for advertising)
‘stumble’ feature? Point me to this pls Kevin.Not discovery per se, but Twylah is doing some tangential things with brands letting them aggregate their tweets based on traditional SEO keyword logic into a URL derived from the tweet stream. Still very early and very rough but this is me under a Twylah Twitter lens:http://www.twylah.com/awald…Actually a bit frightening to see oneself from this perspective 😉
There was a mention of the stumble feature here -> http://thenextweb.com/twitt……and the seeing yourself through others eyes is *very* interesting…I do hope to reveal that sort of information to users over time (not in my focus for now, but something I personally would love to dabble in down the road)…
Thnx Kevin…have a great long weekend.
Thanks, Arnold. That’s wild. Just signed up.
Yup, a bit unnerving to see how all over the place my tweets are 😉 A weird almost forensic view.It appears that I like the social web and natural wine and New York…what a surprise!Twylah is still early but the idea of a ‘fan page’ for Twitter is interesting once it is configurable.
You are a renaissance man with diverse interests, Arnold. But they pretty much captured the wine aficionado aspect — love how that is the first thing featured — even though I still think of you in terms of marketing and social media…well, before Anfora, I did.Speaking of which, still need to find that wine out here — the one I discovered at Anfora.
I’ll save my thought on the branding, labeling and distribution of natural wines for another time. I’ve been thinking of a project to solve this problem for a few years and getting closer. I’m starting the holiday weekend with a truly unbelievable floral and rich and vivacious Italian Organic Rose. Yummy and refreshing!
I would think it would be good for reporters and analysts of strategic decision makers, ie my inbound is less important than Fred’s. Trying to understand at least a slice of their inbound news may shed light on their decision making process.
I like the knowabout.it feature where you can see suggestions from friend’s collections. I’ve discovered some great material this way.Although I think knowabout.it has been snubbing me lately. 😉
heh…it’s not intentionally snubbing you…we are going through some early (but good) growing pains on the backend…I’ve been feverishly working on preparing to scale and we are also getting a SUPER awesome design put together…the plan is that we’ll be releasing major updates on both ends in the next couple weeks and moving into a true (and open) beta…at which point, we’ll be MUCH more stable for all our users (including the ones with larger amounts of content flowing through like yours) ;-)…oh and thanks for the kind words…it REALLY makes my day to hear people getting value out of what we are building! Thank you! 😉
Actually, this is a usable feature in a context of “herd following”, when you are deciding to follow (or not to follow) some person or brand, especially because someone else is her follower.P.S.Do you or (you partners) tour companies from your “European” portfolio (i.e. Zemanta), or they have to come on pilgrimage to NYC ?
many of them have offices in NYC now
Viewing things vicariously is eye-opening. Things look very different when seen through the filters of others. – A few weeks ago I was walking back, suited and booted, from a meeting in San Francisco. The meeting hadn’t gone well. I was feeling pretty low.An old pan-handler approached me and followed me down the street. “Give me some cash bro. You look so successful. Hook me up.” I told him he had got it wrong, wearing a suit didn’t make me successful and if anything, based on the days events, I was the exact opposite.He stopped me, took me by the arm, looked me square in the face and said…“if only you could see yourself through my eyes. try and look at yourself through my eyes”.- blew my mind.
yeah, that is mind blowing
That is a very touchy experience you had. I think you will remember that fellow’s face and words for long. One of my Dr. friend told me … whenever you feel low… go and visit a General Ward (where government treats people for free … no insurance etc.,) in a near by hospital you will know how gifted you are.I have told the same thing to many of my friends.
Liad, that is actually a powerful story. It reminds me long ago how my dear wife was bitching on how life sucks, I took her a train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv got into a Thai fast food joint I knew and showed her the two poor saps sweating their ass off 13 hours a day 7 days a week. Told her every time she thinks that way to put herself in these guys’ shoes. It was 15 or so years ago and still holds.
Coincidentally. Just landed in tel aviv. After your story, definitely having Thai tonight. Great place in ben yehuda.
I beat twitter to the punch on this feature 🙂 (Don’t just follow me, see the world through my eyes). I zero’d my “follows” and only follow lists which anyone can follow. Here’s my inbound.
your inbound is a lot like my timeline mark!
We’ve got good taste in sources. Hey the twitter mobile UI got a slickoverhaul. Rivals the Twitter App for iOS (except it doesn’t cachetweets).
I’ve also heard great things about the new mobile app for Twitter (a handful of people over on subjot.com were mentioning how great it was the other day)…guess I gotta check it out.
I think a conscious way of looking at the world through the eyes of others is valuable in education. I often wish sometimes that people could see how I am doing what I’m doing. And backstage is always fascinating as it gets us closer to the real = real equation. My innovation gift for today: I can imagine something like second life through the eyes of celebrities would make some fans go crazy. Depending what they are doing lol. The greatest advantage I see in that 2nd eye perspective apart from entertainment is education of all kind.
teaching is essentially trying to get others to understand what you understand
‘Good’ teaching you mean… 😉
now the question is: can the 2nd eye help others understand what we understand? how would a dynamic learning platform look like? i can imagine something like ustream where everyone can stream what they are currently doing.
i am a very late comer to twitter. I certainly see the stickiness but cannot quantify the value (social professional) that i get from it. I find the experience similar to taking a thoroughly unsatisfying bowel movement. best intentions going in…..mild case of “what was that all about” on the way out. oh well, i’ll keep trying.
push aside using it as a distribution medium or a ‘facebook’ wall for a sec.search under a keyword that is of interest…curation, seo, whatever. start a conversation and see if it works for you.
i learn a lot from the people i follow on twitterit’s a lot like reading blogs for me
i can sense that there is immense value there Fred, Arnold. this article was very well written http://bit.ly/imzjk4Its also very ADD if you get my drift – almost zero rentention.
Follow folks who share great urls. 140 is good enough for a link with context.
that’s the hard part though Mark, finding the person who shares a great url (once per day!!) and does not indiscriminately pull the retweet trigger.I’ll take a single shot over spray and pray any day!
You are exactly the type of person I built the ‘potentially missed’ and ‘recommended inside’/’recommended outside’ your collection views within knowabout.it for…if you don’t already have an account, use the invite code ‘alpha’ to get right in (we’ll be opening up without the invite code requirement as soon as we get our UI cleaned up and released ~2 weeks)…would love to hear your thoughts on if/how it works for you and if it gives you the freedom to follow more people, engage with more interesting content, and most of all…discover the great links you are currently missing out on…
will def sign up and give you feedback Kevin.Have a great weekend
An earthy but understood analogy. Here’s to, well, ……………………………………………………………………satisfying bowel movements?
its friday JLM – loose of tongue, loose of tongue 😉
You and @JLM:disqus need a good weekend. Try a Slim Jim (Diet Coke and Beam) for the health conscientous sort.
Was there a WARNING sign before entering the mind of @aweissman:disqus?I’m guessing 16-17 pages of B, C and D-list obituaries? If you aren’t following him, you should. Just a great follow.p.s. you’re right Fred this is a big deal and I can think of a lot of commercial applications for it. I hope news.me agrees.
no warning, just an enthusiastic suggestion (ie a link)
Fred. Great post. We designed Qwiqq based on the same premise: being able to discover great, local deals by “peeking” at a deals shared between two friends is much more interesting than being pushed an ad. http://www.qwiqq.me. We will launch in 30 days and would love for you to be an alpha tester around June 5. Jack
There’s no UI for it yet, but people interested in this topic here may like these views on Know About It. Just an example of two media types that flow through everyone’s social streams, these being videos and photos specific to Fred. We’ll have something for recommendations and other views soon.http://knowabout.it/fredwil… http://knowabout.it/fredwil…
Thank you, I didn’t know about this new Twitter feature. It may sound obviuos to you, but the “basic” twitter as it was already made for me this service, discovering new persons and new issues. This new one reinforces the change in the web search, turning from google, where you look for something you already know about or you think may exist, to twitter/facebook, where something you may know nothing about is brought to you by someone you follow.Do you think google should change something in its search method? In fact I guess I’m getting lazy in searching for information and news: they already come to me.
Personally, I’m far more interested in seeing what someone socially endorses vs. just what they see. In simple terms, we both could be reading the NY Times, that tells me very little about what you deem relevant or truly newsworthy.
Best point here
RT or reblog is all about that
Please illuminate how this cool feature does anything to generate revenue. I simply don’t get Twitter’s business model. I understand the usefulness for users but it, theoretically, is a business…sorry curmudgeonly- but my investors actually expect us to make money.And are they diving into a Facebook-style privacy quagmire? Can I block this feature?
Somewhere I heard that 1 in 5 divorces occured as a result of something found on Facebook. Can you imagine the implications of this privacy breach?
I know they make money but it seems incremental compared to their valuation. Compared to Facebook, I know very few normals who ever even look at it. But I’m certain it has a more global impact because of mobile. Facebook’ mobile options are awful. I’m seeing a lot more uptake amongst my non-tech world friends for Foursquare than Twitter. And though I mentioned privacy, I think it is a non- issue for most people.Time to put this iPad down and get outside!
this feature has nothing to do with revenue. they are doing just fine on revenue although everyone loves to suggest otherwise
Could be really interesting if facebook implemented this is well, however, not sure how users would react based on privacy issues it could create. Although, I could see facebook implementing this and dealing with the privacy issues after the fact which is what they’ve done several times in the past.
that’s why facebook isn’t twitter and twitter isn’t facebook
Is it the person’s timeline in real time? Clicking on your link it does seem to be list of people you are following but the timeline is in a random order (jumping around hours and days) and it’s just the last thing each of them posted? That’s a significant difference. For example, if there was a news event and I wanted to see the reaction in your twitter universe it would be hard to get a accurate real time glance into your world.
I would argue the algorithm being used is backwards. It is posting the comments of the last people you followed on Twitter first. The most accurate dekko into my Twitter world are the first people I followed.
I’m actually a little nervous about this stuff.Way back when facebook first started, someone ask me on a date. He chose the location based on something my profile said.* While said person and I are good friends now, I can’t help but wonder if my non-existent bf to be will know a slew of facts about me before meeting me, without understanding how I interact with these facts.I think it is so wonderful to try and be in another’s shoes. At the same time, we’re abstracting away that experience so I can’t say I fully understand their experiences because of this abstraction. And that bothers me quite a lot….*It was very tame – it was that I like Andy Wharhol.
http://www.Jawaya.com beta next Tuesday.
There’s a big difference between looking into someone’s windows and being inside their house. I like these types of features, but there has to be an easy way to control what people can see. I love publishing my likes, for example, or letting you see who I follow, but I don’t really want a public stream with my name on it that is my unfiltered dashboard, just like I wouldn’t want to publish my entire browsing history. The risk is that by publishing everything, you negatively impact people’s behaviors.
Big Brother is that much closer! 😉
I get a little confused about Betaworks… are they an angel group? a group workspace? an incubator? or all of the above?
all of the above
hmmm interesting ok so they fund the company, provide the space to build the product, and try to surround it with the right people. Smart philosophy. Does Techstars see them as friends of foe?
That new Twitter feature is a good one, but it boggles me how behind Twitter is in rolling innovative features. This feature existed already from 3 other apps, but am glad that it’s an official Twiiter app now & 3 other bitches are damming their future.That said, snooping serially unto others streams is an ok benefit, but not a breakthrough. The News.me feature totally underwhelmed me because it’s surfacing what’s popular and not what’s relevant.As Arnold implied, the value will come from finding the interests and engaging with people around them, not just following another fire hose.
twitter had to scale first. twitter apps developers don’t need to manage the backend. that is twitter. now that twitter has the back end under control, they can roll out features.
That would be great & looking forward to more innovation from Twitter.I’ve always thought they should own the user-client experience totally and give us the best one out there. Imagine if Google was accessible 10 different ways.Twitter should master Search next, given the ton of meta data they have. If they could give us contextual, relevant, social graph and serendipitous search- it would be a breakthrough. I don’t think it’s going to come from those playing with the likes of the Gnip API or Twitter’s API.You can’t build strong innovation on top of moving sands. But if you’re the sand maker & owner, you can. You know where the sand ends and the stability starts.
Rad that you can do this in Twitter. Wonder if Tumblr will be next?
Nice racist twitter feed you have there.You must be very proud.Mark
This new Twitter feature made my day yesterday.
Shameless (but related) plug, Fred: We *just* launched this feature on Daytrotter.com. You can now ‘look over the shoulder’ of other Daytrotter users to see what sessions they’re listening to.George
cool. i will check that out
Fred, this is what we do in Appsfire.com when you allow people to watch over the shoulders of their friends and discover the apps they own and use on their deviceWould love by the way to have you get “spied on” with your android device and allow your readers to share which apps you are using _ > http://getap.ps/appsfire4an…
i will do that
Cool feature but what would be even better is knowing which Twitter users are followed most with “tweets from this user are sent to your phone.” Ranked or shared lists of these users would be more interesting than # followers, verified, recommended, listed, etc.
As we spend more and more of our free time online, there is probably a convergence: the “poor” student in a 1 bed room dorm and the famous and rich movie star are probably doing exactly the same thing at 10PM on a Tuesday evening: reading Tweets, blog posts, Kindle books by the same people.
What I’m curious about is whether there really are that many varied perspectives on Twitter. (And I will try to test this more because so far, I’m not seeing it.)If you follow hashtags closely as I have to sometimes for my various jobs, you will be disturbed at how many people just mindlessly retweet other people’s insights or links without even commenting. There is an enormous amount of redundancy on Twitter. With Twitter’s annoying habit of putting the top-retweeted tweets on the top of the search for that hashtag, it’s like the annoying Google/Wikipedia collusion, often you can’t get past “the top link that people link because it’s the top link” problem to see what the fresher data is. This is particularly annoying when you are trying to follow a massacre, mass refugee exodus, etc. and the government comment retweeted about the event becomes the “top news” even though it contains no news but often lies.The problem of the skewing of our news diet by Twitter is something I have pondered deeply since joining in 2007 and seeing how it works.Ever since Ev and Biz first stacked the deck by having the beta testers be all techs from Silicon Valley with a certain perspective about “how this software and its features should be,” then stacking the deck some more by letting their special friends use scripts to pack their followers list (i.e. Scoble) with tens of thousands, and the rest of us have to cap out at 2,000 (until we get more followers), I’ve noticed just how much radio or TV Twitter really is.Twitter is basically the Gillmor Gang.Someone like Ashton Kutcher or for that matter PJ Crowley get enormous numbers of followers as “thought leaders” who in fact got their publicity from old-fashioned dead-tree or one-way electron media. So they leverage their old media to get their new media perch — so it’s not really a test of what new media really can be.Of course, there is the issue of the early-adapters who are then put in the “recommended” list by the devs, so that if you don’t have people to follow when first joining, you are skewed to what the devs think is “recommended” — which tends to be their tech pals, various lefty and liberal commentators, things they think “should” be popular. It’s not a varied diet; it’s not even the kind of thoughtful diet that a New York Times or NPR liberal would create, were he set the task.So take those three factors — a) the stacked list of “recommended” b) the early adapters who could pile up tens of thousands of followers without caps c) the mindless retweeting masses — and you have in fact a Hive Mind machine.For example, as much of a contrarian and dissident as I am on copyleftism and technocommunism, due to these three factors, I probably have a twitter stream little different than you, Fred, once you take out all the Second Life avatar people I follow just tweeting about SL issues, I probably have those same Scoble type people in the stream as you do (and I will check).In other words, if we were to pose the problem of how to get someone like you off your daily Bolshevik diet, it would really be a challenge, because it would likely not be accomplished from Twitter and its immediate environment alone. That’s the scary part. For example, you could start following Adam Thierer formerly of the CATO institute that has more of the libertarian (i.e. anti-technocommunist view) — a view that I find BTW as equally extreme and problematic as technocommunism).http://twitter.com/#!/adamt…But merely by following Adam, I don’t know if you would really obtain a new perspective, as much of the time Adam might be “on the same page” with a tweet like “Interesting, but makes sense: “Smartphones, not DVRs, are the biggest threat to TV #advertising” http://t.co/YKG2egn via @engadgetThat is, people tweet often not what they believe, but what they find interesting, or the tweets of enemies that they need to expose or counter. I find generally a retweet is in fact an endorsement, but sometimes it can be an expose, as if to say “Get a load of this!”
@fredwilson you don’t seem like the type who would follow @bigboi and @RealWizKhalifa. I thought your feed would be completely biz,vc, entrepreneur. I dig the “over your shoulder” view
i love both of them and their musici also love @kdthunderup
I’ll save my thought on the branding, labeling and distribution of natural wines for another time. Property for Sale
‘Social voyeurism’ was and is a powerful major driving force out there (sex/porn is the number one though). We (techies/entrepreneurs) now have tools to take it to the next level and reward ‘exhibitionism’ with 15 microseconds of fame. Privacy is not completely dead yet as there’s some more killing to do, and everyone will bitch and enjoy the new age 🙂
what specific changes are you talking about?
i guess if you want to listen to the tech press you can do thati choose to deal with reality