What is this obsession techies have with leaderboards. Everything we do gets rated. Everyone needs to be reassured who is most influential, who gets the biggest audience, who has the largest (whatever). Come to think of it, it human nature to try and figure out who is in and who is not. Not just a tech thing. But it really isn’t a big deal.
Marshall KirkPatrick of ReadWriteWeb writes about the importance of Tweeterboard:
On Tweeterboard you’ll find not only a list of the top 100 most influential users on Twitter – you can also look up any of almost 2000 users and see who they are conversing with and get some idea how much influence they carry in the Twitter ecosystem. Only a small portion of Twitter users are being tracked so far – but if indexing can be automated (!) then this could become a very important service.
Jeremiah has a much better angel at it:
Why is understanding who talks to me and vice versa important? Because you can see who influences me, and who I influence.
I like that argument already much better, because it isn’t about who has the biggest. It is about who influences you and who do you influence. Making it a personal tool. I actually have written a similar suggestion before in the blogosphere. Instead of Techmeme leaderboards I would like to see Newton’s Universal Law of Blog Attraction getting implemented.Now, lets think about this for a minute. Twitter is a tool that helps people to get into on-line conversations, although in probably 50% of the cases it is more a 1-way publishing tool of thoughts no longer than 140 characters. I like Twitter as much as I hate it.
I like it because it is a whole lot of fun getting into 140 character conversations with other people. I like it because it allows free flow of thoughts no longer than 140 characters. I like it because the people you interact with are likely to say smart or funny things when they have little space to use.
I hate Twitter because it isn’t opt-out. I want to be able to interact with the people I follow on Twitter, but if I follow a person, he doesn’t automatically follow me. That makes me a groupie instead of a friend and it sucks. Now this other person might just choose not to follow me (which is fine), but I’d rather have him actively block me (as would be needed in opt-out) than have him ignore me (which is now the case).
So why is Tweeterboard another useless tool? Because it helps you look at Twitter in a way it wasn’t meant to. Twitter isn’t about who is most influential, it isn’t about us all tracking the “whole”conversation. Tweeterboards leads to two unnecessary behaviors:
- It is narcistic for those who want to know how important they are (disclosure: I’m not important enough to be on it, I checked immediately ;-)). Fun, but useless all together
- It gives those that want to analyse stuff the false illusion that they have a grip on who is influential and what they are talking about
Forget it. Not interesting. The Twitter population isn’t representative of the Web community. It isn’t even representing the techie community. It is only a subset of geeks and other weirdo’s like myself that are out there.
If a popular soccer player in the Netherlands says something weird on TV it’ll have more impact than the most influential Dutch Twitter geek. If Mr Bush decides to go to another war in some foreign country he’ll get more attention than Robert Scoble, on of the most fanatic Twitter users. BTW, I like Robert better than any other influential Twitter user. Why? Because he follows everyone that follows him, and he actually responds to tweets I or anyone else sends him. He is in the conversation, not above it.
Before you know it we are all looking at the same “influential” people again and then Twitter becomes a room with a lot of echo in it. And that would be sad, for it is a perfect way to interact.
But most importantly. I really don’t care that much what “influential” Twitter users say. I care about what Twitter friends say, that is, the people I follow and that take the interest to follow me.
Tweeterboards, TechMeme Leaderboards, who needs them. If you are interested in me or the things I write, you can find me here onTwitter. And I always follow you back 😉