Big changes coming at Twitter

3 Jun 2010

Micro-blogging site Twitter is implementing important new changes – the ability to see who else is following whom else and a new annotations capability to add metadata.

These changes will add a new richness to the Twitter experience and could fundamentally change how people use the service but also give fresh impetus to how it competes with sites like Facebook.

Twitter is testing a new feature that allows users to see how many other people are ‘following’ the same people. The feature, which can be termed ‘you both follow’ allows users to see if their friends are also following other friends.

The feature should turn Twitter from being a one-way communications tool into a more robust social networking service with context.

Another big change on the horizon is the ability to annotate your tweets with metadata about location, music, films, products and reviews so long as the data doesn’t exceed 512k per tweet.

The goal of the annotations feature will be to bring more structured data to tweets to allow for better discovery of data and richer interactions.

In a technical overview of how the annotations system will function, Twitter said: “Annotations will be a community-driven effort, but we aim to offer some initial guidance to hopefully create a critical mass of data that benefits users and developers.

“We want to lean towards loose-typing and minimal requirements while balancing that with enough structure to determine some semantics about the content or expression.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years