On Twitter, trending topics offer a glimpse into the behavior and common interests of everyday users – as governed by time and attention. Prevailing themes represent the culmination of popular focal points that unveil characteristics of varying groups of users that transform and scale with events and trends.
The question is, do trending topics symbolize the topics that are relevant to you?
If trending topics collectively represent the state of conversations on Twitter, then perhaps “the wisdom of the crowds” doesn’t necessarily reflect the topics that might interest the disparate groups that form Twitter’s diverse community.
At the time of this post, Trending Topics included:
Trending topics and those driving their percolation contribute to their manifestation. Sometimes, many of us take to Twitter to share what has captured our interests or attention prior to realizing that they are also shared by many others within the community. But many times, the themes that capture the attention of those to whom we’re connected, don’t always make it onto our attention dashboard.
At the very least, Trending Topics create real-world “Conversational Networks” that allow us to study and graph user behavior, profiles, and the contextual lineages between people representing disparate groups of age, gender, and backgrounds. But when it comes to channeling relevant trends that match the interests of specific users, Trending Topics continue to fall victim to the noise that may threaten to pollute the very thought streams that serve as the lifeblood for Twitter itself. While Lists help to some extent, we can only benefit from a layer of intelligent filtering integrated into the stream to further personalize and improve the experience – not unlike what FeedHub and AideRSS attempted to do for RSS feeds.
As a result, Twitter is now taking a proactive role in filtering trends and evaluating what’s spam and what’s genuine as it struggles to reverse the downward trend in visitors to Twitter.com.
According to a recent post on Twitter’s blog:
We’re starting to experiment with improvements to trends that will help you find more relevant tweets. Specifically, we’re working to show higher quality results for trend queries by returning tweets that are more useful. The improvement won’t be very noticeable at first, but this is a small step toward unearthing more value in search and getting you more relevant results.