December 28, 2020 • #

As little as Twitter has moved as a product in the last several years, the amount of time I spend on it clearly demonstrates that there’s gold there that no other product can replace.

If you curate your following list well, the quality level of the interactions you can have and people you can meet are incredible. I haven’t found another social network as good at finding interesting ideas.

A limiting aspect of Twitter is how biased toward “now” it is1. It’s inherently an ordered timeline. Algorithmic recommendations surface some recent things, but not from beyond a day or so. Much goodness is bound up in the Twitter archives, but it’s nearly undiscoverable. If you find an interesting new person to follow, you only get this extremely recent window into their interests.

I saw this new project from developer Geoffrey Litt, something he calls Twemex: a memex for Twitter. It shows promise to resolve this problem. It’s a simple Chrome extension that layers in some missing features for exposing the historical gems embedded in peoples’ timelines. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks and it’s an excellent addition to the product.

It adds a persistent sidebar for all of the pages on Twitter, which includes different things depending on context.

Firstly it has overhauled search. Since it lives in the Twemex sidebar view, you can live search while you’re drafting a thread, finding similar ideas (and filtering down to your past tweets or people you follow) to quickly link into past thoughts.

Second, there’s a fun “On This Day” feature that shows on the main timeline feed that resurfaces your own tweets from the same day in years past. Always fun to see what you were into. Sometimes it might even provoke you to revisit old ideas.

And third (my favorite), when you visit a user’s Twitter profile, you get a “Best Of” selection of their past posts. At a quick glance it gives you a sense of previous ideas, links, and material a user posts, which helps you select and curate your following lists better. I follow a lot of people on Twitter, but always first peruse timelines to determine if they’re worthy of a follow.

Geoffrey shows searching of likes and bookmarks, highlight curation, and profile notes (to let you annotate why you followed someone). All excellent additions that’ll make Twitter so much more useful. It’s still in private beta at the moment, but I’m sure will be available as a public extension early next year. Follow Geoffrey on Twitter to see its development.

Sometimes you run across extensions or add-ons like this that should just be native product features. Twemex should just be the “Twitter Sidebar.”

  1. Also, as it happens, one of its advantages. Twitter is the best representation of a global water cooler you can find 

Topics:   Twitter   tools