I’m not Fred Wilson (who posts ideas and sees them built almost instantaneously) but I’m going to post about something I’d like to see as a Twitter application and maybe, just maybe … someone will build it.
Fred (and many others) are certainly right — the value of Twitter is in the links. We’re seeing real-time search engines like OneRiot put an emphasis on links, and sites like TweetMeme and MicroPlaza that help organize links by popularity. Twitter itself, through Twitter Search is supposedly working on indexing the content of tweeted links to improve its search results with more context. Ultimately none of these systems do exactly what I want.
So here’s what I’d like to see (and it could be a Twitter app, website, integrated into a desktop app, etc.):
- Ability to display a list of tweeted links based on interests. For example, I might want to see links for venture capital, startups, montreal and recruiting. So I want the links categorized by self-defined interests. The system would have to index the content of the tweeted links, otherwise I don’t think it would be smart/accurate enough to give me the best content just off keywords or hashtags in tweets.
- A URL shortener with tagging. Before indexing the content of links, I think we need a URL shortener that allows us to tag content, like del.icio.us. Hashtags are helpful (and could be used as part of the assessment of links) but there’s not enough space for real tagging in 140 characters. But imagine if you had a URL shortener where you could input a bunch of tags into a separate field. The tags wouldn’t be displayed in the tweet but they would be associated with the URL as a way of identifying the URL and its content. That would help my proposed system a great deal. I’d love to see tagging of tweets built into a URL shortener like bit.ly and then integrated into desktop apps like Tweetdeck. People are fairly comfortable tagging content, and this would add richness tweets and tweeted links.
- Ability to rank list of tweeted links by who submitted them. I don’t want to see every link within these categories, it’s too much. So I want to see the links ranked (or filtered) by people I follow, and then allow me to open up the firehose to everyone (which encourages friend discovery.) And ideally it would rank the people I follow as well – by some kind of reputation system (a measurement of the relationship b/w me and that person, how often their links are re-tweeted, etc.) This should bubble up to the top the best links from the best people in the right categories.
- Ability to rank list of tweeted links by other factors. Some kind of algorithm is needed to determine the ranking of tweets. Showing only links from people I follow is step one, and implementing reputation on those people is step two. But ultimately displaying popularity of links (based on retweets) and adding other variables could be useful too. But this isn’t the core priority, and this is where most other systems in my mind fail; they focus almost exclusively on popularity of links. That doesn’t help me find the needle in the haystack that really matters to me.
- The system has to learn. It would be great if the system learned what I liked over time, to improve the algorithm for displaying a sorted list of the best tweeted links by category/interest. This could include a favorites feature. It might also track how often I click the various links to recognize what content I’m most interested in, and from which person (which in turn could increase that person’s reputation.)
- Only show me the links. I don’t want to see the content of tweets – I just want the links (and the submitters’ names.) I find systems that display the tweets are too noisy and messy. The tweet content doesn’t really matter; if the system is smart enough to tell me this is a valuable link from a valuable source, I don’t need to see the message the submitter tweeted the link with. Just give me nice, clean links.
The goal is to capture all the tweeted links of value from the Twitter stream (both from people I follow and those I don’t.) And the secondary goal is to help me discover new people worth interacting with based on the links they’re submitting.
In the spirit of giving, I wanted to throw this idea out there and see what people thought. And maybe, someone will build it, or some element of it. I think in its initial form you would need a URL shortener with tagging + a site for displaying the links in some ranked fashion. The limitation in this system is that the only content that might get picked up initially is content from tagged tweets, which would require people to adopt a new URL shortener. There may be smart ways to overcome that though.
I’ve also got a domain we can use — http://linktwits.com. This was inspired (of course) from Stocktwits, which I think is a brilliant system. I’d be happy to use this domain name for the project.
And, I’m happy to help in any way that I can. I’d certainly be a user of the system, and maybe I can help with other elements of it…