Formulists For Automatic Twitter List Curation

Over the past few days, the battle between RSS and real-time social news sources such as Twitter has had a flare up, most likely brought about by the death of Bloglines. Much like the “blogging is dead” battle that occasionally pops back up to ignite the online community and divide the sides like a virtual Hadrian’s Wall, the Twitter vs. RSS grudge match has some pretty impassioned and diametrically-opposed advocates. For example, Louis Gray addressed the “difference of opinion” regarding preferred method of content consumption by concluding RSS or RIP, the Results Always Trump The Methods (completely agree). And a heated debate arose on Amplify (link here) regarding the Twitter camp’s recent assertions that Twitter is not a social network but an “information network” – this brought about an interesting and somewhat lengthy “which is better” duel between Twitter and RSS for news reading. Check out Collin Walker’s take on the debate and the downsides of social curation here.

Studio readers can probably guess my prediliction – I would take my news a half a second later if I had greater assurance that the news was coming from a trusted source and could easily verify its veracity – characteristics I generally don’t associate with the average of the Twitter stream. Additionally, I find it far easier to access and view the information in my RSS reader than I do in Twitter, which gives equal footing to the important breaking news tweets and the “this is what I had for breakfast” tweets.

As pointed out in the Amplify discussion above, you can impose your will on Twitter to a point and aggressively cultivate and maintain lists of the best news sources to improve the quality of your information. But Twitter has not made list creation and maintenance an easy task at all – take the inability to edit private lists, for example.

ReadWriteWeb tipped me off to a new tool to help you create and curate your Twitter lists. It’s called Formulists (link here) and will be launching in public beta mode on Monday.  Using algorithms, Formulists will create lists automatically that update daily. The lists can be created relative to your interactions and the interactions of your follows and followers. Create a list of the people you talk to most, the people your friends talk to most and people who are most similar to another user, for example. The lists will also update without manual intervention – a list of “people who RT me” or “people who list me” will update as people RT and list you.

Another interesting feature is the ability to track people who unfollow you (perish the thought). Formulists brings to the table additional filtering features that make Twitter that much more manageable to negotiate.

The upper limit of lists imposed by Twitter is 20. Formulists has to abide by this limitation. However, as you create new lists, your old lists in excess of 20 are not deleted, but are instead stored on the site, available for reactivation at any time.

While recent changes at Twitter have made me wonder why third party app developers are still working with this platform, I certainly hope that Formulists can weather Twitter’s fickle moodswings. Formulists is just the type of tool to persuade me to argue the other side of the RSS / Twitter news source debate.


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