Well, the issue of authority-based searching on Twitter is here to stay, even though Loic Le Meur, the guy who started all of this by asking for some sort of authority search feature on his blog, has amended his opinion. He points out now that “authority” was a poor word choice that resulted from the fact that he speaks French first and English second.
Given this amendment, I’d like to say that authority-based Twitter searching is nothing more than an academic exercise, debated by bloggers across the Web in their posts and in their comments on other people’s posts. But I cannot say that because at least two developers have come out with sites to search Twitter based on the number of followers that users have.
These two new sites are Twitority and Twithority. Twitority’s tagline says “Authority based twitter search,” and Twithority’s says “Twitter Search by — Authority.” Both of those sites are still sticking by the word authority, though I wonder how long that will last when the discussion hasn’t yet managed to come up with a solid definition of authority as it pertains to Twitter. (The comments in TechCrunch’s latest on the subject offers some good ideas, though.)
Of course, not everybody cares about Twitter and any authority its users might derive from their status as Twitter users. On TechCrunch’s , commenter Scott C. writes:
Because “twittering” makes NO SENSE. It’s somewhere between a text message, an instant message and an email…and there’s just no reason to have it. It’s sortof like “micro blogging” via Tumblr. You either write nothing or something. Anything inbetween is ultimately a waste of time and energy.
The commenters on that TC post, some of them at least, see Twitter as just another fad, a “mutual admiration society” within “the largest echo chamber in all of tech,” that is, TechCrunch itself.
Kara Swisher at the Wall Street Journal’s “All Things Digital” blog goes into a little more detail about the perceived importance of Twitter.
I think, though, the real story is the endless echo chamber of Silicon Valley that seems to persist in overestimating the meaning of Twitter, especially compared to so much more that is going on in the tech industry.
With only about six million registered users (with a much lower number of active ones), Twitter gets written about as if it were a mover and shaker extraordinaire, instead of just being what it is: An interesting status-alert start-up that makes zero revenues and turned down a very large buyout offer from another once-too-overhyped start-up (Facebook).
Well, after yet another week in the real world, I am here to tell you, precious few people still have any clue what Twitter is or how it works.
Is Twitter’s importance overrated? Maybe, but I think a larger and more culturally important issue is highlighted by one of the comments on Swisher’s post.