Twitter Suggested Users: problem and solution

Plenty of swirl this week about the Suggested Users page that Twitter newcomers see after sign-up. Jason Calacanis (co-founder of Weblogs, Inc., which publishes Download Squad) made a splashy offer of $250,000 to be installed near the top of the suggested list for two years. Dave Winer refuted that ploy, and the list generally. But Winer's complaint with Twitter's list misses the mark.

Suggested Users is meant to be a starter kit for new Twitter users. It is well-meaning but misguided, and surprisingly, seems to misunderstand and misrepresent what Twitter really is. Dave Winer's complaint is that Twitter is misusing its network power by applying editorial discretion to single out a tiny handful of its users. But in my view, Twitter is exercising the same sort of newbie service that My Yahoo! and Google Reader do: give unsteady new users a toehold by recommending some content.

There is no problem in principle with Twitter lending users a helping hand as new consumers of Twitter content. The issue with Suggested Users is that it shines the discovery spotlight in the wrong direction, ignoring Twitter's rapidly manifesting future as a global information matrix.

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