Twitter email digest a 'whiff of desperation'

Attempt to grow networks will also lead to inbox noise, says social expert Suw Charman-Anderson

Twitter's differentiator from the likes of Facebook has always been streamlined elegance. Whereas Facebook's news feed is now a jumbled mess of status updates, Twitter's strict reverse-chronological feed has been a breath of fresh air for many. It's therefore curious that Twitter now plans to spam users' email with the 'best of Twitter'.

Othman Laraki, Director, Growth and International, said on the Twitter blog that the weekly email digest would summarise the "most relevant Tweets and stories shared by the people you're connected to on Twitter". Anyone who's seen Facebook's similar attempts to figure out the most relevant messages in a feed will no doubt hope Twitter's algorithms are more successful (and, indeed, better than its attempts to combat spam).

Clearly, Twitter is trying to increase people's usage of the service and encourage them to expand the number of users they are following. However, social software consultant and writer Suw Charman-Anderson told .net that "like a lot of things Twitter does these days, there's a subtle whiff of desperation [about the plans]". She said it will be interesting to see how accurately Twitter predicts what people find interesting or relevant, "but given that I often am more interested in the links and Tweets that don't get widely shared, I don't find myself feeling hopeful. And if they can't make it relevant, there'll be a lot of people turning the feature off on the site." (Twitter notes this, at least, will be simple enough, managed via your Notification Settings.)

Charman-Anderson said she'd prefer it if Twitter spent time working on features users have been demanding for years: "Access to their archives and tools for managing business accounts could be valuable revenue sources if done inventively. Instead, they seem focused on what they think will be populist, and this is often a recipe for failure."

Are you looking forward to Twitter's digest, or would you prefer the service concentrated on other features? Let us know in the comments.