Twitter lists, creators vs curators, and who owns the meta-data?

October 16th, 2009

Flickr is a creators’ community. This informs a number of the decisions we make. Including the question of “who owns the meta-data?” (where own is defined as who can operate on it).

On Flickr a photo tag can be removed by a photo’s photographer whomever added it. And a tag only has a single instance. This is profoundly different then del.icio.us which is a curators community. On del.icio.us I can make any statements I want about an object in the world, and all the curators voice can be conglomerated towards consensus. Flickr privileges the creator, del.icio.us the consensus.

Even when we launch curatorial features, like the recent galleries launch, the content creator has final say about how their work is described, including membership in a gallery. You can not only remove your photo from a gallery, it can’t be re-added once you’ve done it, and you can block that curator from operating on your photos again.

This is all been a fairly rudimentary discussion by way of explaining my biases.

I’m excited by the Twitter lists feature, it’s a great example of enabling powerful interactions by offering stripped down bare minimum organizational tools. (in fact its almost identical to galleries in that aspect)

But interestingly, and frankly surprisingly to me (possibly given my biases), Twitter is positioning itself as a curatorial community, not a creator community. This might actually make sense in the sphere of social media experts, and their endless re-tweetings, but its a fundamental mismatch with my expectations as a very early member, and someone who isn’t trying to shill a product (beyond perhaps a slice into my own routine life)

Thankfully I was saved from having to make the effort (via buzz and meowrey)

From the Twitter lists beta

11 responses to “Twitter lists, creators vs curators, and who owns the meta-data?”

  1. Rod Begbie says:

    An interesting design decision that I misunderstood with the initial announcement: You don’t have to follow someone to add them to a list. eg. http://twitter.com/RodBegbie/bozo-bit-set

    So a list is not, as I first thought, “Here’s a subset of my timeline”, but rather “Here’s a completely different timeline, which may or may not intersect with my regular one”.

  2. Rod Begbie says:

    Ooh… random thought: If user add all the people they’re following to a list, we can emulate the old “See someone else’s Twitter timeline” feature that got removed and was so fun.

  3. Kellan says:

    Ooh, that is a neat idea. The “SoAndSo in context” was great.

    Now you got me wondering if you can add folks to a list who’ve blocked you.

  4. You raised some good questions about Twitter lists. From my understanding, you can’t add blocked people – but please let me know if I got that wrong. Rod’s idea about seeing the timeline through someone else’s eyes is very interesting. Yes, I miss that feature too. Thank you for the example of the mornic lists already being made. I wonder if the creators of that list realize that the people they’d like to bang will see they’ve been placed on that list when that feature becomes public. Then again, if it’s a celebrity they may not care, nor bother to check which lists they’re on.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  5. I’m with you on the surprise at curatorial over creator-based. I just got the feature to discover that I was already on lists made by other people.

    Firstly, I hate that I didn’t know that. I can understand the logic behind rolling out that way, but it makes me very uncomfortable that there were interactions involving me without any way of making that known to me in the interface. Bad juju.

    Secondly, I want a way to remove myself without blocking the list author. I’ve been ‘bouncing’ followers for years now – blocking then unblocking again – but that doesn’t have the same effect. I may be perfectly happy to have someone follow me but not want to be on one of their lists (or any of their lists).

    On a positive note, I guess I’m intrigued that this may mean I can stop inflating my Following numbers with my obsessive following of staff members from Twitter itself. (but only if it allows me to see their replies to the ones I’m not following – which I’d guess it doesn’t)

  6. xian says:

    this also raises the question of to what extent adding someone to a list is like following them (when you’re not following them, that is) and to what extent it’s different. can that person direct message you? the weird rules on displaying mentions interact with lists how exactly?

  7. salaud says:

    It could be that re-mix and compilation (“curation” – negative connotation) is a very important creative aspect on the internet for a lot of people. I will argue that creation of original content is the BEST result, but not the only one that is important.

  8. I already know people who have been added to lists of company employees when they would prefer not to have their online identity closely associated with their work. It’s a definite problem.

  9. […] Twitter lists, creators vs curators, and who owns the meta-data? (Laughing Meme) […]

  10. […] the rest of this interview makes me wonder if there is really a clear distinction between curation and creation or whether the two are inextricably linked. I strongly suspect that behind every act of creation […]