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Twitter Finally Rolls Out Long-Promised Real-Time Activity, Username Streams On Twitter.com

Finally.

It was announced back in August, for Dorsey’s sake.

But Twitter has started to roll out the long-promised Activity and @Username streams on Twitter.com. I have it, and so do a lot of other users. And many of them are not happy.

Here’s a screen grab of how it looks. First, the @Username stream (which in my case is labelled @Sheamus), which now shows your mentions and retweets, new follows and also (nicely) when any of your tweets has been favorited.

And a bit further down, so you can see some examples of retweets, Favorites and follows.

And here’s the Activity tab, which has replaced Retweets, and shows “Favorites, follows, retweets, and more by people you follow”.

It’s Activity which has caused the most dissent with users, with many of them unhappy with the big change and the removal of the retweets folder (even though that’s now been integrated into @Username, which has mostly gone unnoticed).

A search on Twitter reveals a lot of mixed opinion.

For me, I like the changes. I particularly like the @Username folder – the Favorites highlights are very welcome. I know a lot of people use Favstar.fm and similar sites for tracking Favorites but I’m old school and like everything in one place. As I’ve said many times before, if you have to leave Twitter to get the service or feature you want, they’re inherently failing to deliver their product.

And, yeah, the Activity folder is very much a case of TMI (too much information), but it’s also oddly compelling, in a twisted, peeping Tom kind of way. I’m not sure I’ll be paying it too much mind – and one glaring oversight is you cannot remove people who generate too much Activity and continuously bog down your stream (you know who you are) – but it’s a quick and easy way to have a gander on what’s going on in your network.

As Lauren noted yesterday, Sean Parker (of Napster/Facebook fame) appeared to get an early preview of the new UI yesterday, and promptly flipped out about its similarity to Facebook, almost as if Twitter was ripping their rival off. I don’t really see that connection at all. Is the Activity stream a kind of notification feed? Sure. But that’s common on a gazillion websites. And even if this was a cheeky borrow, Facebook has ripped off Twitter numerous times. What I think is clear is Twitter isn’t afraid of Zuckerberg’s baby, and has far more to gain from maintaining differences than trying to emulate, and so any similarities between features are probably simply because they’ve been proven to work and have become established in the user consciousness. I mean, if we’re going to start pointing fingers, Facebook ‘killer’ Diaspora has Likes and hashtags. For reals.

Is this the best, smartest update Twitter could have made to their UI? No, not by some distance. But it feels like progress, at least from this writer’s perspective. Hopefully it’s just a small taste of some bigger things to come.

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