Twitter in newspaper form? How quaint (and potentially brilliant)

I’ve just signed up to Twitter Times, a recently launched service which takes a ‘new media’ outlet (Twitter) and offers its users an ‘old media’ solution for sifting through their feeds for popular news and blog posts from people they follow, delivering it in the form of a personalised newspaper, sorted by recency (is that a word?!?) and frequency.

Project leader Maxim Grinev explains the basic principle behind the service, saying:

“From the massive volume of daily news the most interesting ones are those actively discussed by people you follow, your friends, respected persons and celebrities you admire.”

It is still in its testing phase, so some of the functionality is apparently a bit ropey, but I’ll happily forgive its teething problems if it manages to develop into an effective and relevant filter for interesting content. I only follow about 90 people on Twitter, but this equates to 250-300 tweets dripping through my feed on a typical day, which means I tend to skim my feed a few times a day and will only actually read or click through on links for maybe 20%. No doubt I am missing some hidden gems in the 80% I ignore, but life’s too short to carefully read them all and if Twitter Times can help me unearth these without having to spend the whole of my life physically attached to my phone/PC, then I’ll become a happy and regular subscriber.

(Incidentally, I read an article earlier this week that claimed the average Facebook user spends three days a year on the site. Okay, once you have recovered from the sensationalist headline and done the maths that’s actually only 12 minutes a day, but it’s nonetheless easy to see how easily and insidiously social media can take over your life – and how potentially valuable a tool like Twitter Times can be to help social media addicts reclaim their lives.)

Personally, I think Twitter Times is a great concept which marries new and old media to simplify our ever-expanding world. It’s a bit like the Ellis Island of Twitter, processing millions of entries and turning away the undesirables. Whether it proves to be truly effective or ends up being overtaken by better, more agile me-toos remains to be seen, but Grinev should be applauded for attempting to provide a much-needed service which addresses a growing issue for people like me, for whom there never seem to be enough hours in the day to keep our Facebook statuses up to date, or to catch up with contacts on LinkedIn, or to write our blogs, or – perish the thought – to venture outside into the big wide world every now and then.