People have been talking for some time now about things that Twitter could be doing to add value to the service (apart from just managing to keep the servers up for more than a day or two at a time, which they appear to have accomplished), including mini-hubs about topics that are of intense interest among the Twitterati. The newly-launched U.S. election site is just such a beast, and while it’s a nice effort, there is so much that Twitter could — and should — be doing with it that it’s almost more of an advertisement for what they aren’t doing than for what they are.
The page’s main feature is a scrolling view of Twitter posts that include the names of the candidates, updated more or less in real time. At first, it’s very cool — much like Digg Spy, which shows you things that are being dugg. But it eventually becomes almost hypnotic, to the point where you lose track of what the actual messages are saying. You can pause the scrolling by moving your mouse over the feed, which wasn’t clear until someone pointed it out (on Twitter, of course) and you can click one of the keywords at the top of the page to see a subset of messages with that word, and you can filter the messages by candidate. But that’s about it.
I was hoping for some added intelligence or filtering. What about some trend graphs that show the rise or fall of certain keywords over time? What about a table or a tag cloud showing the most-used keywords for each candidate — like McCain and old, or Palin and dumb, or something like that? I guess we’re just supposed to be amazed that Twitter can produce a scrolling list of messages with certain keywords. The only problem with that, of course, is that others such as Twistori have been doing something similar for months now (and now the site has also launched this).
Twitter founder Biz Stone even mentions some other tools that are far more interesting in his launch post, including Politweets and Perspectv. I’m with Josh Catone at Sitepoint, who says that “it feels like Twitter took the easy way out, when they could have done something really special.” (maybe something like this)