Should Twitter ask you every hour or two what you want to see?

The Silicon Valley religion is that robot software can figure out what you want based on what you’ve done in the past. The result is that Twitter shows you tweets that are a lot like tweets with which you’ve previously interacted. But what if you’re in the mood for something different? Suppose that you’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter condemning hate, ridiculing Deplorables for their refusal to wear masks and accept experimental vaccines, exhorting young people to get out and vote for Democrats, and demanding additional investigations of the January 6 insurrection. If you open up the Twitter app as you’re settling down for the night, the application will show you political tweets. But what if you don’t want to see the same stuff at 9 pm that got you riled up at 9 am?

Suppose that Twitter had a “laugh” emoji option for a reaction to a tweet. Then it would be possible for a user to click “entertain me” and see the recent tweets that other users thought were funny. Based on text analysis, the system could respond to a “teach me” click with tweets that were educational in nature and/or linked to thoughtful tutorials. With a bit of merging of ChatGPT into Twitter search, perhaps this could be done as freeform text rather than a set of predefined moods, but I think the moods/interests button would be better (less effort) for most users.

Note that this could be done without cooperation from Elon Musk & Co. as a skin on top of Twitter by a search engine that had ingested at least a significant subset of tweets.

How does it work now? Spectacularly badly. If I type “funny” into the search box, the results are mostly people fighting. “funny tweets” works on Google to find Twitter accounts that offer hand-picked items.

Here’s a site that tries to do the third-party skin… Some of the tweets were a lot funnier than people hitting each other, but they can’t take advantage of anything known about an individual user, e.g., that he/she/ze/they likes knitting or aviation or whatever. Examples:

Readers: What do you think about this idea? Twitter should track your moods and figure out your mood by asking you… What are you in the mood to see?

6 thoughts on “Should Twitter ask you every hour or two what you want to see?

  1. It was once recommending most of the starship coverage. Since Elon lost focus, it’s been a lot of gootubers trying to milk what they can out of the starbase weeds & politics junk.

    What a wonder it would be if it recommended porn. The high priest of the silicon valley religion isn’t going to allow that.

  2. Why not make it modal and configurable in terms of bluntness, softness, tastefulness, etc. Little buttons like: “Dry Humor”, “Black Humor”, “Trent Reznor”, “Beethoven” and translate that into humor suggestions, news to follow, current and past events, etc. Kind of like: “Mindreading Synesthesia”

    • I like this idea, for all social media + youtube, etc. Just ask us what we want, instead of guessing with a crappy algorithm. It’s so simple, why hasn’t this bee done already?

  3. I think they should work on it and build a beta, particularly just for regular day-to-day grind work, they could throw in things that you don’t like. Let’s face it, most people tend to follow fairly well defined paths in their thinking. They wake up with the same personality every day for the most part, and so stirring the coffee a little bit may not be such a bad idea. This is a loose interpretation of your observation that people tend to repeat themselves and repeat the past. This is good for making your personality seem stable, you’re not pathologically labile, but every once in awhile it might be a good thing. They should test it out. They should make it easy to turn off and they should tell you when it’s happening but Twitter could easily automatically do it.

  4. What if there were a “View Counterpoints” button, to allow people to hear varying points of view?

    • This happens automatically if they’re optimizing for engagement. People love arguing, hate-reading, and quote tweeting stuff they disagree with.

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