Screen shot 2009 11 02 at 00.21.03 300x187 The Brilliance of Twitter Lists and Suggestions for ImprovementIn my opinion twitter is the best tool we have today to engage with others, spread a message, network, meet other like-minded people, and stay on top of the news, in any industry. The only aspect I’ve always found problematic on twitter was the impossibility of organizing information. This is something that’s changed now with the new twitter lists which allow you to organize people in any sort of list you like.

So how have you been using lists? What sort of names have you been giving your lists?It’s quite interesting to see what lists people have put you under and how you have been “categorized”. With twitter lists, I can put people I am following into specific categories. So for example, I have created lists of “bloggers”, “social media”, “brands”, etc.

Twitter lists are going to change the way we network and socialize. No longer are we going to have a list of journalists’ emails to send a press release to but rather we will have a twitter list of all these journalists with their twitter handles. Patrick Kitano writes in his post entitled Twitter Lists will Organize the social graph: “It takes an individual an hour to build a 200-person Twitter List in comparison to the days / weeks it takes to attain a 200-fan FB page. This will make Twitter Lists the prolific standard for organizing the social graph.”

Each of us is organizing his/her own “following” or rather social graph is basically helping twitter organize its database for them. These lists will become invaluable to us both professionally and socially. However, please note that one twitter account can only create 20 lists and each list can only contain 500 members, so choose your lists carefully and who’s in them even more carefully. Robert Scoble wrote an excellent post describing the limitations, bugs, impact and brilliance of twitter lists.

The feature itself I think is revolutionary. The interface and usability? Well, not as great. So here is my top 10 list of suggestions for improving twitter lists:

10) Include a “Featured Lists’ section each day/week, based on the user’s interests/preferences

9) Ability to invite people to a private list

8 ) Ability to combine lists

7) Ability to search within specific lists

6) “Ability to build lists by search across following/followers and automatic list creation. For example, I could build an instant list of Berkeley real estate agents by searching “Berkeley real estate” across my following, and clicking a presumed button called “Automatic List” (Credit: Patrick Kitano)

5) Allow special features for lists, for example: Being able to send a message to all the members of a particular list

4) Allow the ability to decide which lists will display on your sidebar

3) Allow to easily search for people while adding them to lists

2) Ability to add more than 20 lists (perhaps a premium feature?)

1) Ability to add more than 500 members to a list (another premium feature?)

As Scoble writes, what will be the impact of this brilliant feature? “You’ll follow a lot more people. Why? Because you’ll find someone who has done a really great list, say, of programmers, and you’ll add the whole list. I’ve already done this a LOT and found that Twitter has gotten way more interesting because of it.” Barak Hachamov, founder of My6Sense, a startup that learns users’ behavior over time and prioritizes their information streams for them tells me: This feature is so simple and yet has the potential to have such a huge impact on how people consume and discover real-time information.

I tweeted this week: “It’s no longer about how many followers you have. Now its about how many twitter lists you’re on.” and I stand behind what I said. It doesn’t matter anymore if 100,000 people are following you if you’re not on any one’s list. LindsayT tweeted me saying: “why does this matter? why isn’t the question-how many friends you interact with through this social medium? quality over quantity”. So I answer LindsayT in the most personal of ways: The more lists you’re on, the more you interact with others. People put you on a list because you specifically interact and made yourself a name in that particular category. Twitter lists are the new measurement these days. Twitter lists are awesome. We will soon enough ask ourselves how we ever lived without them.