Twitter has struggled lately to build on its initial success as a rapid-fire microblogging platform and goldmine for data on real-time trends and events. That's probably a big part of the reason CEO Dick Costolo recently resigned, making way for co-founder Jack Dorsey to step back in as interim CEO. Following that big news comes Project Lightning, a feature designed to place curated videos, images, and tweets corresponding to big events and trends at the center of Twitter's experience.
The project is still a few months away from becoming a reality, but promises to plug a new button in the middle of the home row on the Twitter mobile app that, when tapped, takes users to a screen displaying various live events that people are tweeting about. Selecting one of these events brings up a list of largely media-rich tweets curated by an editorial team that decides which are most relevant and engaging, and thus worthy of inclusion in the stream.
This media won't behave like it does on regular timelines — each video or image will take up the whole screen and load almost immediately. However, you can choose to follow an event and have these curated tweets blended into your timeline, regardless of whether or not you follow the accounts associated with them. When an event concludes, these tweets disappear.
If successful, this new feature could do for Twitter what live events have done for Snapchat — allow users to follow along quickly and effortlessly, inserting themselves into the conversation however they see fit. The company has toyed with surfacing event-related content in the past without much success, but this approach, if employed carefully without disrupting the sense of personalization with respect to newsfeeds, could be a win-win-win for Twitter, its investors and users.
Cover image: Wikimedia