I’ve become quite a fan of Twitter, although I’ll readily admit I never really “got it” to start with. However, as I mentioned in a previous post, and also in a recent tutorial video, Twitter makes a lot more sense once you add a group of people to your network. Having a likeminded group of fellow Twits from which to tap into some collective wisdom turns Twitter from a curious plaything into a rather amazing personal learning environment.
Twitter has an open API (Application Programming Interface), which mean that programmers who can think of interesting ways to mash the basic Twitter feed into another service are able to tap into the guts of Twitter in order to get it to power their own apps. There are a number of interesting tools/toys that hang off the Twitter API, from useful local clients like Twitterific, Twitterroo, Snitter, Spaz and Twitterbox, to fun implementations like Twittervision and Twittervision 3D. And just to show how circular life is, I’ve just been alerted to Twitterposter, thanks to, none other than my very own Twitter network.
Twitterposter creates image grids of the top Twitterers’ icon files, arranged so that the more influential (most followers) are shown larger than the others – sort of a visual tag cloud idea. Two things struck me as I browsed the grid… one was the number of people whom I actually recognised, at least by reputation. @Scobleizer, @ijustine, @Biz, @Gruber, among others. Seems that despite its vastness, the Internet is still a finite place full of very real people.
The other thing was just how big some of these Twitter networks can become. There were several I saw with well over 4000 followers and the largest following I saw was @Scobleizer with 6893. That’s crazy enough, but he is also following 6923 people!! How anyone could manage that sort of volume is totally beyond me, or why anyone would want to. Surely there must be a limit to how many in your network is the “right” number? If you can believe Dunbar’s Number, the “right” number is about 150. I tend to agree, and imagine that things would start to get a little messy after that. Just doing the math, I’m following about 100 people at the moment and I get tweets popping up every couple of minutes (especially during the North American daytime), so I imagine that following nearly 7000 people would have tweets popping up every few seconds? That’s just crazy stuff, and I would think totally blows away any usefulness that you might be able to get out of the collective wisdom of the network. Maybe someone with a large follow list might leave me a comment and let me know how that works for them. I’m really curious.