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12/2/2009
11:31 AM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Taking Another Look At TweetDeck

What Twitter client do you use? TweetDeck is a favorite of many people who use Twitter for professional purposes. I've been an enthusiastic user of Tweetie for the Mac since it came out more than seven months ago, because I love its powerful, simple, and easy-to-use interface. However, TweetDeck now supports Twitter features that Tweetie doesn't, so I figured I'd give TweetDeck another try. And I'm liking it.

What Twitter client do you use? TweetDeck is a favorite of many people who use Twitter for professional purposes. I've been an enthusiastic user of Tweetie for the Mac since it came out more than seven months ago, because I love its powerful, simple, and easy-to-use interface. However, TweetDeck now supports Twitter features that Tweetie doesn't, so I figured I'd give TweetDeck another try. And I'm liking it.This isn't my first time with TweetDeck; I used it regularly before Tweetie. But after I gave Tweetie a whirl in April, I couldn't bear to use TweetDeck anymore, because TweetDeck looked ugly and cluttered.

However, Twitter recently came out with some powerful new features: Lists and a new way of handling retweets. Tweetie for the Mac doesn't support those features (although I expect it will soon), but TweetDeck does. So I figured I'd give TweetDeck another try.

I instantly started enjoying a feature of TweetDeck that I'd been missing since I switched to Tweetie: The TwitScoop "buzzing right now" cloud. It's a word-cloud of the top trending topics on Twitter. Keeping an eye on the TwitScoop cloud is a great way of checking to see if there's any breaking news you should be aware of, either world news or technology news. As I wrote this post late Tuesday afternoon, the top keywords were fil fotonauts fotopedia and nationwide. This tells me there is nothing happening in the world that requires my immediate attention.

On the other hand, a few hours later, during President Barack Obama's address, this was what the TwitScoop pane of TweetDeck looked like.

TweetDeck TwitScoop tag cloud during Obama address

And this is what the TwitScoop pane looked like when I got to my desk a few minutes ago:

TweetDeck TwitScoop cloud

Look at something like that and you know there's a breaking story, and you can even get a general idea what it is. When I worked for a daily newspaper in the 1980s, we had a police scanner going all the time--you could hear it everywhere in the newsroom--TwitScoop is like that, but it covers the whole world.

The integration with lists and retweets are where TweetDeck stands out. You can view and manage your lists from within TweetDeck. And retweeting works about the way you'd expect--click a button next to the tweet, select whether you want to retweet immediately or edit it first, and you're done.

TweetDeck's stand-out feature is that you can set it up to view Twitter in multiple columns across your monitor. Columns can include saved searches, lists, multiple Twitter accounts, or your status messages on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also use TweetDeck to access status messages on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, as well as MySpace and the 12Seconds video microblogging service.

I have three major complaints about TweetDeck:

- The caption line on individual tweets, where it states the name of the person who posted the tweet and the time it was posted, is a bit gray and hard to read by default. Fortunately, it's easy to go into the settings and beef the font up a bit.

- The caption on re-tweets doesn't contain the name of the person doing the retweeting (although it does name the original tweeter). That's annoying. It's doubly annoying because the caption does contain the name of the Twitter client the Twitter user is using, which is virtually useless.

- TweetDeck hasn't gotten any prettier in the past seven months.

I expect to give Tweetie another whirl when it upgrades to support lists and new-style retweets.

Tweetie also has an iPhone app, it's my favorite Twitter app for the iPhone (App Store link.) The iPhone version supports new-style retweets and lists.

By the way, what do you think of the new-style retweets? It seems most professional Twitter users hate them, but I like them. It's now easier for me to share content with my friends, and see content shared by other people. Loren Brichter, who developed Tweetie, defends the new-style retweets.

The big complaint about the new-style retweets is that it's harder to make a comment on the tweet you're retweeting. My solution: use old-style retweets for those tweets, and use the new-style retweets where you have nothing to add to what the original person said. They can co-exist.

Unified computing platforms promise to consolidate everything and anything into a single chassis. Read about that and more in Network Computing's second all-digital issue. Download the issue here (registration required).

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