What exactly is Twitter for? The majority of people I know still have no idea, but the site's new "Game Timelines" could make Twitter's appeal a little more obvious. For the upcoming NFL football season, each game will receive its own Twitter homepage (pictured below) filled with tweets, videos, and scores. The company has experimented with similar pages in the past, notably for the World Cup, which aim to make some sense of Twitter's massive stream of live data.
What makes these game timelines interesting is that they subvert how we've come to understand hashtags. Instead of showing every single tweet tagged with #SeahawksvsPackers, for example, Twitter is curating all the tweets that show up in order to highlight the best content for users. Visiting the aforementioned hashtag page doesn't show a stream of raging fans — it shows tweets from sports reporters, the NFL itself, and from a Seahawks cheerleader. Twitter might still have more work to do, however — some lewd tweets seem to be sneaking in every so often, as you can see in the following picture.
These pages aren't quite the "real-time tailgate parties" Twitter says they are in its announcement blog post, but they go one step further towards making Twitter's incredible stream of data accessible to new users. But at what cost? Curated timelines hint at a future where Twitter goes even further to customize your feed, either algorithmically or by hand. Just yesterday the company's CFO stated, as reported by GigaOM:
Twitter's timeline is organized in reverse chronological order... but this "isn't the most relevant experience for a user," Noto said. Timely tweets can get buried at the bottom of the feed if the user doesn't have the app open, for example. "Putting that content in front of the person at that moment in time is a way to organize that content better."
The world of live-streaming content is in fact only just getting started — even Snapchat has begun its bid to be your go-to source of live videos for music festivals — and Twitter doesn't want to get beat at its own game. Half the challenge, however, seems to be organizing that live content into an appealing, digestible feed that isn't chronologically ordered as Twitter has always been.