Quoting "Ken D." <k...@cimas.ch>:

Hey Rick,

It's the second time in a week that someone brings up the autofollow/
unfollow question (see also: http://groups.google.com/group/twitter-development-talk/msg/b7b1dfbf6500ab83)
and I would love to understand the "follow economy" once and for all.

First of all, you say that if someone is following you, you will
follow back, but if they are not following, you will unfollow. If you
are not yet following them, do you mean that you would block them?

What is the use case for auto-following, and why would it be so
important to unfollow users who do not follow back? Is there a cost?
Are those users' tweets less interesting if they aren't following you?
I mean, we can't all be followed by Justin Bieber! Personally, I'm
over that...

If one succeeds in building up an account that follows and is followed
back by thousands of users - as seems to be the goal - does one ever
actually visit the account? It can't possibly make any sense to access
such an account via twitter.com. Are there tools that can render such
an account usable or meaningful? Finally, why the pretense of
following if one will never actually read the users' tweets? Does
Twitter have in mind to adapt the system to this reality?

This is not a rant, I sincerely want to know!

There are technologies (primarily natural language / text processing and social network analysis at the moment) that would help a person or business manage an account of this size. However, most such technologies are "embedded" in "social media listening platforms", "business intelligence" tools, "web analytics" tools or "social CRM tools." In addition most such tools are broader than just Twitter - they connect to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other "social" sites, integrate with email and often connect with search optimization / marketing tools as well.

If you want to experiment with these technologies on Twitter, I've put together a virtual appliance containing open source research tools called the Social Media Analytics Research Toolkit. There's not much end-user application-level software there at the moment, but the platform is complete. It's heavy on Perl and R because that's what I know best, but there's a good bit of Python and Java code there as well.

You have to give your email address to Novell SUSE Studio to download it (for free) at the moment, but at some point in the future I'll be "selling" a version, probably on SpiderOak.

M. Edward (Ed) Borasky
http://borasky-research.net/about-smartznmeb/ http://twitter.com/znmeb

"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems." - Paul Erdos

Twitter developer documentation and resources: http://dev.twitter.com/doc
API updates via Twitter: http://twitter.com/twitterapi
Issues/Enhancements Tracker: http://code.google.com/p/twitter-api/issues/list
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