Taking Control of Twitter
For better or worse, Twitter has become the de facto information exchange hub for some of my favorite communities (developers and bootstrappers). While I long for the day when blogs and personal sites make their triumphant return, I am taking a more pragmatic approach to how I interact with Twitter.
Twitter makes sharing small pieces of content highly efficient. Unfortunately, it lacks tools to make consuming content anywhere near as efficiently. Since it relies on your eyeballs to get paid, it does its best to keep you within it as much as possible.
Over the last couple of months, I have been using the following tools to help keep me informed, without the time suck that Twitter can often become.
As the name implies, FeedBin is a tool for consuming feeds (RSS/Atom for young readers). However, in addition to feeds, it posses secret weapons for following specific user accounts on Twitter and subscribing to mailing lists. These features allow me to accumulate information from a variety of sources and then consume it when I am ready. The setup for Twitter is a bit manual (you add each account individually), but I view this as a speed bump to ensure you only add what you need.
Making this even better are two great Feedbin features:
- With a single click, you can see all the replies to a given tweet.
- If a tweet contains a link, Feedbin will show the contents of the post after the Tweet.
Feedbin does cost $5 a month, but it is certainly worth it.
What truly makes Twitter great (at times) is the ease of sharing. Anyone can share something at any time without a lot of fuss. Unfortunately, every time you log in to Twitter (or open an app) is a chance to get sucked in. Enter Twizzle!
Twizzle is a small application that lives in your menu bar that enables you to send tweets (even tweet streams) without the full Twitter experience. (It also handles DM's, but I rarely use that functionality).
When it was first released, it cost a wapping $5 but is now free and open source.
Edit.app is my favorite new(ish) app to come to iOS in a long time. It provides a simple screen you can use to write just one thing and makes it easy to copy that into another app. You can use it for much more than Tweeting (I have mine set to be a blog client as well), but similar to Twizzle, it lets you write/share without getting sucked into the full Twitter experience.
It is important to point out that this Twitter experience does have it's drawbacks. The most noticeable is interacting with the community in real-time. Keeping Twitter at arm's length at all times is undoubtedly good for your mental health and productivity, but it certainly comes at the expense of some of the Twitter charm.