People who hang out on Twitter a lot know that quite often big news breaks there first. A recent example – when Chinese hackers took down SportsNetwork, the news was on Twitter well before we covered it.
But so far, unless you’re lucky enough to be following the right people, and online when the news breaks, you aren’t going to necessarily see the breaking news. Services like TwitLinks have launched recently that utterly failed to solve the problem, despite excitement from bloggers.
Other services, like TweetMeme and Quotably, are useful for tracking Twitter messages themselves. But the key is finding the useful links – Twitter messages are really too short to have much news value for the most part. And figuring out if two Twitter messages are actually related is very difficult, so the matching doesn’t work very well.
Today, though, Orli Yakuel pointed me to Twitturly, a service that holds some promise. It aggregates URLs linked in Twitter messages and puts them on the home page based on overall popularity, calculated simply by determining the number of times the URL was in a Twitter message. Like TechMeme, the more people who link to an item the higher it appears. As time goes on, the story deteriorates and drops in the rankings.
The result is a page of very fresh and interesting links that users can go to and see the most popular current URLs being linked to.
Of course what’s beautiful today is spam hell tomorrow. If this gets any traction (and I believe it will), it will have the same problems that Digg saw with people creating multiple accounts and linking to stuff just to bump up the votes. There are ways of dealing with this, such as giving more weight to Twitter accounts with a lot of followers, but it will be a constant battle against the bad guys.
Some of the results are also a bit questionable. One of the current headlines, for example, is to Twitter.com/login, which isn’t new or useful. My recommendation would be for the service to track URLs and only show “headlines” pointing to new stuff that hasn’t been shown in the service before.
We’ll see how it evolves. But for now, it’s a place to check out what’s interesting right now, according to the Twitter universe.