Twitterfall – a perfect Twitter interface for journalists?

Twitterfall has been around for a month now, and if you’re a journalist, this is a must-see – for about ten minutes. Then it becomes a must-use.

Yes, this is Yet Another Twitter Interface.


This is Twitter on crack…  

On rollerskates…

In a jumpsuit.

Here’s what it does:

You can choose to watch all tweets go by, or log in and watch the tweets of those you follow. Thanks to Comet technology (apparently) it is (apparently) faster than Twitter’s own search service when pulling the most popular terms (see comments for explanation).

You can alter the speed from 0.3 per second to a mind-scrambling 10 tweets per second.

You can see the most popular terms of the moment, and just follow tweets containing those keywords – or enter your own search term (a la Monitter) and monitor tweets that mention it.

You can combine keywords. 

You can also add a location to narrow it down to tweets that mention that word in that location (again a la Monitter). The words Mumbai and Chengdu come to mind. 

Unlike Monitter you can use Twitterfall to post tweets yourself, to favourite tweets, reply, and look at twitter users’ details – and just hovering over a tweet pauses the whole thing.

You can also follow a user with one click – a feature even clients like Tweetdeck lack.

You can filter by language and choose to exclude retweets.

You can save favourite searches.

And you can customise the appearance of the interface including the font size.

This is quite simply the best interface I’ve ever seen anyone design for Twitter – and I have seen a lot. It is fast, flexible, customisable, and web-based. And it’s only a month old. 

If they ever create a mobile version of it (and it does sorta work on an iPod Touch/iPhone) I’ll probably explode. One request, though – I’d like a Twitterlocal-style ability to just look at local tweets without needing a keyword too.

The fact that it was made by two students in York here in the UK also pleases me no end. You’ve just saved me 30 minutes every week convincing newspaper editors where the value lies in using Twitter – thank you.

UPDATE: Here’s a pic of Twitterfall being used on the big screen in the Telegraph newsroom (via @juliansambles):

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17 thoughts on “Twitterfall – a perfect Twitter interface for journalists?

  1. Jalada

    As it happens, we are working (slowly) on a mobile version. So stay tuned 🙂

    As for the Comet technology. That only is used for popular trends – our server does the searches for popular trends (the top list) and pushes the results out to people. This means that for popular searches Twitter Search is only hit once, no matter how many people use Twitterfall. This helps alleviate load on Twitter during events/situations.

    Custom searches query Twitter Search in a similar way to other applications (every few seconds).

    We’ll look into geolocation without keywords for you 🙂

    Thanks for spreading the word about us!

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  3. yajiao Ji

    Hi, I am a journalism student and just learned sth about the Twitter during the online class. In terms of using by journalists, I agree with you that the Twitter is an effective role to get the latest breaking news. For instance, during the Sichuan earthquake in China’s, word of it spread quickly from witnesses on the shaking ground via Twitter. However, in my mind, for ordinary people, there is no point for them to update what are they doing all the time.

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  5. paulbradshaw

    Thanks – you’re missing the point a little, though, which is that Twitter isn’t necessarily for saying ‘what I am doing’ despite that line on Twitter itself. It’s for having conversations and sharing useful stuff, apart from various other things. It’s like saying there’s no point people using the telephone just for telling people what they’re doing.

  6. Rachel Simmonite

    Twitterfall was so funny to watch when Gmail died last week, it was bemused and worried Tweet after another.

    It’s a good tool to use, definitely, I’ll use it again for sure

  7. Michael Mallows

    >>>However, in my mind, for ordinary people, there is no point for them to update what are they doing all the time<<< I agree wholeheartedly with Paul Bradshaw; I use Twitter to direct attention to interesting, exciting, useful sites, blogs, tips, youtube vids, and more.

    I can’t quite convince myself that anyone would be interested in the fact that, say, I’m making myself a cup of tea, or that I am changing channels, or my socks for that matter.

    Sadly, though, I have been – and might yet be – guilty of declaring my destination when I am about to tear myself away, even if it’s only to go to bed!

    Oh, well, go well!

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