The flurry of IPO news isn’t stopping Twitter from releasing new features. Today, the network announced a handful of updates, most notable among them being custom timelines. Up until this point, there were really just a few “types” of timelines: a user’s, the general feed, or timelines from any lists you’d created. Now you’ll have much more control with a custom view.
“You name it, and choose the tweets you want to add to it, either by hand or programmatically using the API…” Twitter explains via its developer blog. “This means that when the conversation around an event or topic takes off on Twitter, you have the opportunity to create a timeline that surfaces what you believe to be the most noteworthy, relevant tweets.”
These custom timelines are public – and from the looks of the initial examples, they’re being sold as complementary pieces to TV and Web event coverage. For instance, Twitter says Carson Daly has a custom timeline as a companion piece to tonight’s episode of The Voice. The Guardian is planning to host a Q&A session soon, and a custom timeline will be created from the most notable content from the discussion.
One of the biggest surprises in all this is that Twitter is not killing off its nearly-forgotten music project. “Twitter #music has created new timelines that present the very best tweets from superstars, best songs with tracks you can play right in the tweet, and the best music Vines.”
The launch is the product of Twitter’s TweetDeck acquisition, and the option will roll out slowly to TweetDeck users – for now, it might expand to the regular Twitter client depending on how intial use goes. Make no mistake, this is definitely a power user feature; media types and Web publishers will be able to access Twitter massive firehose of tweets in order to create sidebar conversations to their own content. Think the Super Bowl, NBA Playoffs, American Idol finales, government elections, presidential debates, the Olympics; these are the types of events that media will take advantage of custom timelines for.
This might bring Storify to mind. Custom timelines may have effectively just displaced the popular topic-focus tweet collecting service (although Storify does pull in content from other social networks, so it’s not Twitter specific). Twitter is allowing users more and more features within what’s traditional been a rather simple service, and definitely catering these tools to the marketing and media types that have become the pulse of the platform.