Holy Smokes, It’s a Whole New Twitter


twitter_smallADOTAS – OK, so I’m a little bitter: late yesterday afternoon the word went out that Twitter was slowly rolling out a major revamp, starting with a small number of registered accounts this morning. Sadly, @Adotas was not one of the chosen — perhaps CEO Evan Williams is still mad that I always mention my favorite cheap bourbon alongside his name (tastes best from the flask!) or because I mocked cofounder Biz Stone’s comments at The Atlantic’s Aspen Ideas Festival….

Whatever the reason for this sleight (I hold grudges, Twitter — just ask Jenny Simpson, the girl who kicked me in the crotch in third grade), I have to rely on the reports and screenshots — though I do have access to the new mini-profile feature, which is pretty awesome. When a user mouses over a tweeter’s mugshot, a menu with retweeting and texting options pop up. Hit “more…” and the tweeter’s bio, website and latest tweet appear.

This is remarkably handy as on the Adotas Twitter we follow more than a thousand people (I know, it’s not that impressive, but I’m a leader, not a follower) and often I’ll be wondering “Who the hell is that?” when an unfamiliar face pops up in the stream.

In addition, when someone you don’t follow shows up in your feed because he/she has been recommended or heavily retweeted by your friends, you can easily add that person to your list via the pop-up menu, instead of navigating to the profile page. However, there isn’t a menu option to easily shift people into lists.

But those are just some basic functionality updates — let’s get to the meat. On the user homepage, the feed stream will sit on the left and now feature “infinite scroll” — no more “Click for more tweets” — while a “rich details pane” on the right will show embedded media such as video and photos.

How does this work? Well, Twitter has partnered with [takes deep breath] Brightcove, DailyBooth, DeviantART, Etsy, Flickr, Justin.TV, Kickstarter, Kiva, Photozou, Plixi, Twitgoo, TwitPic, TwitVid, USTREAM, Vimeo, yfrog and YouTube [exhales dramatically]. In addition, the details pane may show replies to a certain Tweet, other recent Tweets from that user, a map showing the location of a geotagged Tweet and more.

“The new Twitter will help people explore and understand the world in a richer and more immediate way,” the company writes. “Now you can get more of the info you want with less work.”

According to Twitter, the team has been quietly developing the site revamp for six months, but there is no timeline for a complete rollout to Twitter’s 160 million users. On the marketing front, advertisers will have more creative functionality for Promoted Tweets and brands will be able to offer followers a true multimedia experience from their Twitter accounts. On the FAQ page, Twitter ponders what the fantastic video-response Old Spice campaign “would have been like to see the video responses to Tweets without needing to go off the page.”

As Williams told The New York Times, Twitter ads are going to be far better “because there’s going to be more real estate and more engagement.”

I snorted when, at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Stone said: “We’re not a social network–that’s been a myth since the beginning…. We’re much more like an information network or a source of news.” Well, with these changes, it would seem Twitter is better fulfilling both roles — snort withdrawn, sir.

From a user standpoint, I’ve never really enjoyed using Twitter — navigating the original setup made me feel like I was being attacked by information. This is exactly why tweeters use readers like Seesmic — the feed is great, but the site is not. However, this rehaul could change many minds as managing the site will now be less akin to bull-riding — it could also be a huge threat to readers like Seesmic and Tweetdeck.

In all the talk of Facebook killers, perhaps I missed the most obvious candidate. Twitter already gets a huge thumbs up from me for always putting users first. Maybe I can forgive you, Twitter, for not including me in the initial revamp rollout — let’s not fight anymore, baby.

Check out these neat-o screen shots:

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And then there’s a pretty cute promo video — notice when the protagonist pulls out the wine bottle with the cardboard cutout bird, the label reads “Fledgling.”


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