Read/Unread on Twitter

I’ve fought it, but I knew it would happen: I now have Twitter content I somewhat care about that has a “read/unread” state; the obligation I’ve been dreading.

At the moment, this is primarily @replies and direct messages1, but lists are going to join the party soon once support is cooked into the popular Twitter clients.

The problem now is that I have my read/unread status decentralized since I use Twitter on about a half-dozen devices (and each device/client maintains their own read/unread state). That means I have to mark something as read a half-dozen times for the “new” indicators to be meaningful. It’s an annoyance.

My current solution to this is to fall back to a platform where I do have a consistent read/unread state: feeds. With Google Reader (web) and NetNewsWire (Mac and iPhone), I’ve got a platform that syncs read/unread state for items. I can use my feed reader to receive @replies and DMs while tracking their read/unread state (hopefully Lists too in the future). I just need to train myself to ignore the little blue bubbles in Tweetie (Mac), or switch to a different client.

Perhaps in the future Twitter’s API will evolve to maintain a read/unread state and Twitter clients implement it (think IMAP for email), or perhaps other solutions will come along to solve the problem. I’m going to see how using my feed reader works for a while – hopefully it reduces the obligation to addressing items only once.

  1. Look folks, I don’t want to receive these, ok? Want to contact me, use old school stuff like email, SMS or the phone or… Hey! Hey you! Yeah you – get off of my lawn! [back]