I read recently that the reason for "senior moments" - you know when you can't quite recall someone's name in an instant - is because the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information. And, while some research indicates this slowing down is often to the brain's long-term benefit, one wonders what the impact is of too much Internet information that comes through our RSS readers. Or rather, too much uncategorized, random, noisy information that comes from working on the social web.
About ten days ago, shortly after I finished presenting at the Share Our Strength Conference my mobile phone started to vibrate wildly because it was getting many incoming text messages. What's going on, I wondered.
As it turned out, it was direct messages from scores of Twitter followers thanking me for the follow. Due to some technical glitch, my Twitter account started to automatically follow the 4, 393 people following me. All of a sudden my Twitter stream exploded with a sea of tweets from people who were new to me.
The human mind craves order and categories, so while it fun to discover new people through a John Cage like exercise in randomness, I wondered how I might be more efficient at following a large number of people.
A couple of weeks ago at the New Marketing Summit, Chris Brogan did a 10 minute demo of his work flow to answer the question, "How do you keep up with all this?" (I captured it on Qik) He mentioned Tweet Deck.
It lets you have replies, all tweets, and twitter profiles in different panels on the screen. You can also create groups of followers. A few reasons why I'm finding this an efficient way to use Twitter:
- Replies: The replies panel not only picks up people who have used the @reply convention at the beginning of the tweet, but anyplace in the tweet. The Twitter web interface doesn't - so if you want to know who is talking about you, you had to do separate search on twitter search.
- Retweets: It does this automatically - rather than cuting and pasting. Also gives a choice of different URL shorterners.
- Profile View: You can click on the person's avatar/profile and it shows up in another screen. (See above). This is useful if the number of followers you have surpasses the dunbar number because I don't always remember people by name - and the visual helps. Another reason to make sure your profile is filled out too.
- Groups: This feature is awesome. I can group together people I'm following by topic or association. For example, I can group all the nptechers I know, and easy scan their tweets. This helps make pattern analysis easier. More here
When you first set up TweetDeck, it only imports 100 of your friends and then it takes time for the rest to be imported. Here's why. The founder of TweetDeck is on Twitter and he is listening and answering questions. If you want some good introductory instructions, do this. The interface cues were new to me, so if you all of sudden loose your three column view and can't find the icons, make sure Tweetdeck is full screen.
The software is still in beta - so it may crash on your or you may encounter some bugs. I've had some performance issues. Also, it meters your use of the Twitter API, so if you go over a limit, you'll have to wait a bit.
Now of course, I enjoy discovering new people and new ideas - so I do keep the ten minutes a day of dipping in the full unflitered stream to discover something - but I also now have the option to be focused.
So, if you love Twitter, Tweedeck will help you love it more and more efficiently.
Are you using Tweetdeck? How has it saved you time in your Twitter work flow? What other Twitter apps have helped you save time or be more effective using Twitter?