For the past few days I’ve been playing around with TweetDeck, a free (donations welcome) downloadable app for Twitter users that’s currently in beta. (What isn’t in beta these days? My six-year-old is in beta. My four-year-old is in alpha.)
When I first downloaded TweetDeck I was a little overwhelmed with the interface. Compared to twhirl, the application I had been using (and still do, running side-by-side with TweetDeck,) there’s a lot going on. I enjoy twhirl’s stripped down but still nicely designed interface.
TweetDeck, by comparison, is dark and requires most of my monitor to display properly.
However, after some trial-and-error I was able to find the settings
(top right corner labeled "S", but not in the pulldown menu like in
almost every other Mac app,) and lighten the interface up a bit.
I also found I needed to adjust the alerts to be similar to how I
set twhirl: basically I want to hear a ping when I get a reply or a
direct message, but not every time TD checks for new messages which
happens approximately every time I exhale. I’m still looking for how to
reduce the requests it sends Twitter. (Help?)
It wasn’t as intuitive as twhirl, but the trick is to set the alerts
to "play notification sound" but to uncheck "include all tweets
notification." Not clear enough for us dummies.
Like twhirl and other 3rd party twitter apps, it has built-in URL
shortening (to fit those loooong URL’s into the 140 character limit)
and twitpic, the ability to upload images and point to them. However, I
didn’t see any geo-positioning tools, in case you wanted to find nearby
tweeters and yell at them to get a life.
The reason TweetDeck has such a bigger footprint compared to
twhirl is it’s multi-column approach. This is so you can better
organize your tweets. By default there’s a column for all your friend’s tweets, your replies and your direct messages.
You can also create a group, which is helpful when you get to a
critical number of follows (people on Twitter you’re following.) This
way, you can put your local tweeps (twittering people) in one column,
friends in another, business associates in another, etc., etc. This
allows you to follow many people while still only paying attention to a
You can perform a search, either locally (your follows) or globally
(everybody) and have the results fall into another column. (BTW, before
you think that 74 columns may be too much even for a 27" monitor, you
can delete columns as easily as creating them.) So, a search for
"Maine" locally brings up tweets from people I follow, where "Maine"
globablly brings up any recent tweets from everybody. A good way to
find new people to follow, for sure.
One of the coolest (read: time sucking-est) features is Twitscoop, which pulls in a tag cloud from Twitscoop.com.
(I believe this to be an unrelated service.) Twitscoop keeps tabs on
hot topics in the twittosphere. It’s interesting to watch during the
Republican National Conventions, as you can quickly see the
across-the-spectrum responses to such things as "the angry left" and
the "Reagan tribute." You can also see who’s NOT watching the
conventions as words like "90210" and "Brenda" grow in size.
It’s like attending the world’s biggest cocktail party and watching the topics float above the guests’ heads.
In the same way you can create a column for Twitscoop, you can create one for 12seconds.tv, a video-sharing Web site currently in alpha. (What comes before
alpha, I wonder? Placenta?) I didn’t yet have an account when writing
this post, so I guess you’ll have to use your imagination.
It’s interesting that a simple app (tell people what you’re doing
in 140 characters) like Twitter now has so many bells and whistles via
3rd party apps. Some may argue that this is application bloat and
it ruins the experience, others may argue that Twitter is it’s own type
of operating system and it’s only natural that programs would be
created to run on top of it and enhance it’s original function. Still
others might argue that I spend too much time thinking about things
like this when I should be reading or picking up after myself. Only
time will tell.
TweetDeck may be overload for the new Twitter user, but as you
continue to add people to follow, it’s a great tool to separate the
signal from the noise.
Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!