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Twitter adds another way to keep score: lists

Last Friday, Twitter rolled out a feature it had been testing for a few months: the ability to sort the people you follow on the popular micro-blogging site into lists, much like how Facebook lets you create multiple friends lists.

My initial concept of lists was no more sophisticated than that: They'd help me keep from being overwhelmed by the volume of new postings on Twitter. But this site's public nature -- by default, anything you do on the site is visible to the rest of the Internet -- quickly ensured they would become a new social currency.

When you log into Twitter, you not only see how many people follow your updates but how many lists include you -- a higher number, as ever, being better. You can then check out lists created by the people whom you follow; if one looks particularly interesting, you can click to follow it. Finally, you can create your own lists -- start by viewing the people you follow -- and then see how many people choose to follow those.

(You can keep your lists private, but that's not the standard setting.)

That's exactly what this San Francisco company intended: "We believe Lists will be a new discovery mechanism for great tweets and accounts," co-founder Biz Stone wrote on the site's blog when lists debuted.

So far, I have shown up on 108 lists. Of those, 36 have "tech" somewhere in their title and four incorporate "geek" or some variation thereof. I've also made one person's list of people who "mademelaugh2xormore." So far, I've yet to appear on any lists with titles like "hacks," "scribblers" or "fanboys" -- but I'm sure that will happen at some point.

I've set up a dozen or so lists to spotlight some of the people I follow -- for example, I have one for current and former Post staffers and another for tech-industry analysts I think are worth quoting. But since I didn't get around to creating most of them until this morning, none of them has drawn its own group of followers.

This feature seems to be taking off in a hurry -- Twitter users' collective lust for lists has yielded a site devoted just to spotlighting good lists, Listorious. But I'm not sure how interesting this curatorial effort will seem a month from now; one of my favorite things about Twitter has been its utter simplicity compared with the likes of Facebook. If you're on Twitter, have you played around with lists? If so, please list ... I mean, enumerate what you like or don't like about them in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 5, 2009; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , The Web  
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