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The other day I made some predictions about twitter lists and after a week or so of using them I thought I’d report back at least how I was using them and how that was working for me. It’s taken a few days of use for me to sort out what works, in theory anyway, so I’ve changed thing up a lot.

Initially I made a bunch of lists like “People who I am sitting next to on the couch right now” which contained one person. This was kind of a joke, but funny enough some people started following those lists. So I did the only reasonable thing and deleted them.

Next up I made a ton of public lists. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Art, Music, Tokyo, Bikes, etc.. and started sorting my friends. This made sense because now I had some context for the peoples tweets as they’d roll up with out thinking about them. What I mean is, when looking at my “Art” list I know the people who were on there I’m following because they are in the artworld somehow. This puts some of the things they say, and some of the things I look for them to say in a different category than people who I put in a “Business” list. It’s subtle, but when you sort tweets that way you start to pick up on it.

I did this for a few days and then realized that I had a ton of lists cluttering up my twitter page for really no reason. Why does my “NYC” list need to be public? It’s just a handful of my friends in NYC who I keep up with and hang out with when I’m there – opening them up for browsing by the general public just seemed a little odd. So I went through and made my lists private.

But then I started think that was a little selfish and doesn’t really help with the discovery aspect of lists that is actually pretty valuable. But there are millions of people in NYC, and millions more people with NYC lists so that just seemed to be added to the noise. I decided that a valuable public list might be for something more niche, maybe things that people might not think of on their own.

So I created a list of vegans and made it public. This includes people I know who are vegan, people I don’t know who are vegan, celebs who are vegan, and some feeds and resources from vegan sites. It does not include vegetarian or animal rights tweet streams that are not explicitly vegan. It doesn’t include accounts I found that were named vegansomething but only had 2-3 tweets and still had totally default layouts. I hoped that would create a useful list for myself, but also for others. And people started following it right away so I think that did the trick.

This also was the first list I made were I added people I wasn’t already following, and you know, that was AWESOME! I can monitor the general overall discussion from a bunch of people without it clogging up my main page and getting in the way of people I’m friends with and know in real life. Over the course of a few days I started thinking in the same terms with my other lists – if I was only following an account because they had bike news, and I had them on my Bikes list, now I didn’t need to follow them anymore. Likewise when someone said something interesting about music or I cam across someone from a band I like, I could add them to my Music list but not worry about following them or not. It’s been pretty liberating.

Obviously this is still a new thing, but I’m really excited about where it might lead.

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