Image credit: Michael Hamburg.
Twitter introduced the concept of lists about 16 months ago to enable the manual grouping of people into categories.
If you visit Formulists or Listorious you can type a keyword and see the different lists that people maintain. Searching for the keyword apples, for instance, you can read Twitter biographies of the 491 people who someone added to a list about honeycrisp apples. You can either follow the list or follow its members individually.
Any Twitter user can create his or her own list, or follow an existing list — such as the above one about apples.
I used to love creating lists. I embraced lists with passion and for the better part of two years I followed few people by way of the “follow” button and followed everyone else by lists instead. Because I kept changing the names of my lists and the people in each list, I also kept following and unfollowing different people.
But the passion is gone. I still like the concept and continue to follow some lists around government and public relations, but I’m tired of having my own lists. And, in fact, short of a local community list and a humor list, I deleted the other dozen lists I’d managed.
Because I use twitter.com as my primary view (and not third-party tools like Tweetdeck or Seesmic), it was time-consuming and unproductive to click a different list’s link every time I wanted to view its members’ recent tweets.
Which leads me to announce a new tactic in my ongoing quest for internet enrichment and resource productivity: I am once again following people outside of lists. It’s a tactic I once employed. I count 700+ people today (up from a mere 12 only two weeks ago). I don’t care about Klout scores and I don’t care if anyone I follow chooses to follow me back.
Do I look at twitter all day long? No.
Am I more productive since following people outside of lists? Yes.
Am I seeing more people’s names flow by quickly? Yes.
Will I see everyone’s tweet? No.
My purpose to tweet today has not changed since creating an account on day one. I tweet to enrich myself, to learn, and to share. Twitter lists, as helpful as they are to showcase people around categories, are less effective (to me) as a means of following and conversing with people.
But these are my thoughts about lists. How do you use lists?