Calming the Twitter Noise

A while back I discovered a great way to manage the noise on Twitter by using Device Updates on Twitter.

Now that I’m following a few hundred people, I’ve learned to manage the noise even better.  However, Twitter turned off the IM device update service that I’ve relied on.  I know they are going through some growing pains and need to turn off some things, but I think it would be nice to get an ETA on them turning it back on.

Anyway, assuming it’s turned back on, I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned about managing the noise of Twitter.  What I had to do was decide to be comfortable with the idea of following a lot of people but only catching some of what they say.  Then I found a way to get my attention when someone I want to not miss writes or when anyone writes to me.

  1. Install and run Twhirl. It’s easy to use and gives you a lot of features for interacting on Twitter.  What I’ve done is often keep it open on the left side of my screen.  When it grabs updates, it flows like a river down the the side of my screen.  If I catch something interesting then great.  If I don’t, it just keeps flowing by.
  2. Use Twitter IM Device Updates. Geeze it bugs that they turned this off.  The main reason is because now that I’m following and engaging with hundreds of people, there are a few that I want to make sure I read.  Some are breaking news, a couple of friends, and my wife.  When the IM is working, my gTalk window pops up just like I got an IM with their twitter update.
  3. Subscribe to Twitter Search.  This is something I’ve just recently started. What I did was do a search for “@orangejack” then subscribe to the RSS of the search results (example).  Now I’m sure to receive in my RSS reader notification if someone writes me directly in Twitter.

The system works great (when Twitter works fully).  As a backup I’ve subscribed to some of my friend’s twitter RSS feeds but it’s not very reliable either.  One thing I have discovered is I could subscribe to a search feed (like in step 3) for their name without the ‘@’.  But honestly, I’d rather wait until Twitter turns IM back on.  Or at least let me know when they plan to.

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  • For some reason, I’ve always had trouble getting pretty much any RSS feed from Twitter to work.

  • Wow. I would put an application that controls Twitter noise in the same category as a Diet Coke alongside a Big Mac. Isn’t noise the whole point of Twitter? Or rather, why would you want all that noise if your desire is the small amounts of valuable information? Read Facebook instead. Signal to noise ratio for Twitter is just too high for me to start with.

  • rob

    “Isn’t noise the whole point of Twitter?”

    @Jerry – Not at all. In fact, that highlights a gross misunderstanding of what Twitter is about. It’s not about creating or monitoring noise. It’s about connecting quickly with others and turning those into conversations and sharing.

    My point in this post is that when you follow a lot of people (because you want to be connected at some level), there can be a lot of information flowing. But there is some information from some sources I don’t want to miss.

    The Facebook ‘noise’ I’ve found to be just as loud though a bit easier to manage. However, saying that one should read Facebook instead of Twitter for less noise is to ignore a potentially completely different audience.

    The noise level for either is dependent on how often the people you’re connected with contribute to the noise.

    But of course neither is noise if it contributes. And I’ve found Twitter to have more contribution than Facebook. But I use both to connect. This shouldn’t be a Twitter vs Facebook conversation anyway. They are completely different.

  • Fair enough. I suppose I ignore most of the noise on Facebook myself. Maybe if the majority of my social network used Twitter I’d be there, too.