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Archive for December 27th, 2008

Echo Chamber Fail for Twitter With Authority-Based Search: Let Them Eat Cake!

Posted by Bob Warfield on December 27, 2008

Loic LeMeur wants authority-based search for Twitter where your number of followers will skew the results.  Michael Arrington agrees.

And why not?  Arrington has 36,000 plus followers and LeMeur has 15,000.  There tweets will zoom right to the top of most searches.  What about the rest of the Twitterverse?  Hey, Loic’s French, he understands the phrase, “let them eat cake.”

This is a seriously good way to make Twitter search Fail big time.  No better way to amplify the Echo Chamber.  Is that all Twitter is?  The Follower haves talking while the Follower have-nots listen?  Have nots are to be seen and not heard?  “Let’s move the riff raff aside, this is our conversation,” seems to be the message.

As Arrington says, this is ugly:

The way he argues isn’t pretty (“We’re not equal on Twitter, as we’re not equal on blogs and on the web”) but what he says has merit.

Scoble, fortunately, is a Follower Have who understands a little better what the ramifications will be.  As he puts it:

# of followers is a useless metric. Everyone is gaming that. What I’d rather see is tweets presented in order of most retweets to least. THAT is a metric that is hard to game and very useful.

Interesting idea to use retweets.  It is essentially the Twitter analog of Page Rank where web pages with more links to them get more play in the search results.

Here’s a bold idea:  What if the reason Twitter is so successful is precisely that it doesn’t let the top gamers win?  What if it succeeds through promiscuity at all levels and precisely because it is not trying to be the Techmeme-style Echo Chamber that LeMeur’s suggestion leads to?

If you want diversity then you need to increase friction.  LeMeur’s original issue that there were 7000 Tweets from LeWeb and he didn’t want to read all of them is a manifestation of friction.  If you’re done talking about anything new and interesting, and just want to spread the word of a few, then knock out all the friction.  The Echo Chamber will be alive and well.  I wish there was a knob for all of my different Internet feeds that let me smoothly vary the friction to go from looking at the Echo Chamber to looking at the most diverse fringe elements of the Internet.   I’d like the Anti-Techmeme that finds for me those things off the edge of the radar but within my sphere of interest.  Shiny new things I haven’t seen before.  People I haven’t heard from.  I’m guessing Scoble is on the same kind of mission, given the potent news network he has built up.

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Check out Scoble’s response at the trackback below!

On Twitter Tim O’Reilly says (what’s the right way to mix Twitter into a blog?):

@Scobleizer I’m with you on dumbness of ranking tweet search by number of followers. It’s a naive understanding of pagerank.


There probably is a good way to do pagerank for tweet search, but simple ranking isn’t it! Google uses hundreds of factors in search quality.

Posted in Web 2.0 | 12 Comments »

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