In the wake of the Twitter flatline phenomenon (the company’s massive growth rate leveled out between July and December of 2009), it appears we’re seeing what is possibly the most change the platform has undergone since its inception. Their latest development? Digging up the most relevant Tweets rather than presenting them real-time.
We know, it’s weird. After all, Twitter’s *thing* is being real-time. The upcoming feature—still a beta project—is what Twitter Developer Advocate Taylor Singletary is calling “an important first step to surface the most popular tweets for users searching Twitter.”
Of course, your personal feed will still be real-time, but when you search for something your results will appear according to how “popular” they are. We’re not sure what exactly makes one Tweet cooler than the other, but it would make sense to assume that it'll have something to do with quantity of retweets, or the number of followers the user has.
Interestingly, it sounds like the development will not be limited to Twitter.com. Because the announcement is geared toward developers (see here), it's implied that third-party applications and clients will be able to support it as well.
Don't Stop Believin' --Er, Developin'
If this feature turns out to be a hit, that's certainly good news for all the developers out there who may have been worried about their future with Twitter. As we reported earlier this month, a cryptic Tweet from Twitter Engineer Alex Payne suggested that whatever Twitter's got cooking in the kitchen has the potential to make the need for developers obsolete.
Yes, the 140-character lovers have been busy. One other recent development was announced at this year's SXSW conference, and mimics the mega popular Facebook Connect feature. @Anywhere enables users to plug their Twitter credentials into popular sites and share information across platforms. Launch partners include YouTube, Amazon, Adage, Bing, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, and Yahoo.
"...imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo home page — and that's just the beginning," said Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone.
It's hard to imagine any combination of features yielding the same staggering growth Twitter saw in 2008, but we're glad to see the platform doing what they can to roll with punches.
Check out more information on the upcoming popularity filter here.