Since its inception, Twitter's format has been basically that of a long stream of seemingly random one-liners made by users. As the users found ways to interact with each other, Twitter began integrating their makeshift "system" into its own official one, such as the "retweet," and the "reply." Also, as users found ways to shorten their URLs to leave more space in their 140-character limit tweets, Twitter eventually began shortening the links automatically.
Well, without fanfare, Twitter is this week rolling out its most dramatic feature to-date - threaded "activity" streams. If this feature has been made available on your account, you'll see it when you sign in, both under a tab called "activity" at the top of your home page, and under the "mentions" tab, which is the one that looks like @YourUsername. TechCrunch has an example, and more information HERE.
In the new activity stream, you can quickly peruse who is now following whom (so you can more easily search for mutual contacts) and who has been replying or retweeting what since your last login. The "threads" are only one level deep, unfortunately, so they still don't have a full "discussion" capacity, which is a feature that has been missing on Twitter from the beginning. However the avoidance of long discussions and a format that just allows for quick updates is exactly the attraction for many users - particularly those wanting quick updates on a developing story.
Under the "mentions" tab are the threads that I find the most useful. It is now much easier to see what people are replying to when they mention you in a tweet. It's easy to see in one place exactly who has begun following you. From that one page you can click on that new follower's icon; his or her profile will pop up in the right column, and you can follow back, block, or do nothing right from that one screen. Very convenient. Oh, and if you really don't want the threaded stream, and prefer to revert to the older view, you can simply check "show mentions only" at the upper right of the stream.
I really believe that these new screens will soon be monetized by Twitter, as the company does not run ads, and is still relying on venture capital to continue its operations - a funding strategy that has its limits. These alternate screens provide the opportunity to offer additional services and/or targeted ad space that could help Twitter eventually become profitable. It remains to be seen, however, if this is their plan and if so, how they will go about it, exactly.
How do you like the new format? Do you think you'll use the threaded options more, or just rely on Twitter's traditional "timeline"?