Now that twitter lists have been rolled out just about everyone, I’m going to actually agree with Robert Scoble and say twitter lists are teh awesome.
To be clear I haven’t gone as far as stopping to use my feed reader … but in the next few weeks I will be looking to move what I can out of google reader and into twitter lists. It’s not that RSS is bad, but RSS is too complicated for anyone but geeks to use, in fact I share Guy Kawasaki’s belief that if you can take the tech out of RSS and blogging it’s going to be better for everyone (shocking I agreed with Scoble and Guy Kawasaki in the same post, someone check for pods in the basement). It’s a matter of how simple it is to integrate into your life and workflow, twitter is a simple steak knife, an RSS reader is a complicated swiss army knife.
RSS is integrated into most blogging and a lot of publishing systems, it will still have uses, and will never die out. However if you are looking for social engagement not having a twitter account is probably a liability, especially when there are so many tools that make it easy to integrate the two.
That said twitter lists aren’t manna from heaven, and they aren’t without their problems, for example let’s look at the clueless Todd Ziegler. Todd showed his academic ivory tower mentality, with his post last week “using twitter lists to judge influence“, sorry Todd do not pass go, do not collect $200. Don’t feel bad you aren’t the only one who doesn’t grasp real world economics. Anytime there is something of value, and there is way to use it gain money, power, influence or sex from it, a black market economy will spring up around it. First people will create silly lists, then others will experiment to see if they rank in Google. Once that’s done, people will start trading favors to be on lists, systems will spring up making adding yourself to lists more efficient and scalable, and ultimately people will start selling placement on lists. Put it this way, once you are on 5,000 lists people will think you are important, and start adding you to other lists. It doesn’t matter that the first 4,950 of those lists where fake spam lists, once you have the 5,000 you are a self referencing authority and you are grandfathered in by your legacy status.
The really clever people will realize that twitter lists are also a powerful reputation management tool, used for good or evil. Because twitter is a pagerank blackhole, all you need to do is work the system to get enough high powered internal links, and you’re good to go. The problem is of course most people aren’t ready for this kind of power, it’s like giving a flame thrower to a 13 year old, no good will come of it. With great power comes great responsibility, and marketers have history of no self restraint and have elevated self-destruction to an art form. To put a fine point on it most of you don’t know when to STFU, destroying your own online communities in short lived blaze of glory, in an effort to gain a link or a bit of exposure.
photo credit: G. Rivas Valderrama