Twitter has begun the rollout, or at least a significant spot test, of the Activity and @USERNAME streams it announced in mid-August. The @USERNAME stream replaces the @Mentions and Retweets streams, combining those with stories about new followers, people favoriting your tweets, and more. The Activity stream shows the follows, favorites, and retweets of the people you follow.
The rollout will convert information previously delivered through email notifications or only visible by expanding tweets into streams that can be viewed from the home page. It will also help Twitter increase the interconnections in its social graph by highlighting who the people you follow are following and giving you the chance to do the same.
Some users including Sean Parker have seen the features roll back and forth, indicating that Twitter may still be tweaking a few things. There’s a chance it’s a spot test, but there have been tweets about it spread over the last day and we’ve received multiple tips, so we though you should know.
As MG Siegler noted in his breakdown of the feature announcement, some users might not want their mention and retweet streams combined and mixed with other content. Those who receive lots of retweets and new followers may have a harder time picking out @replies they want to respond to.
For most users, though, the Twitter home page will now serve as a more comprehensive dashboard. They’ll no longer have to check tweet by tweet to find people favoriting their content, and can spare their inboxes the follower alerts while still being able to find out if someone special starts following them.
I’m most excited about the Activity stream turning the new connections of the people I following into real-time, implicit social recommendations of who I should follow next. These suggestions seem urgent compared to the Who To Follow sidebar section which doesn’t indicate when the people I follow started following that account. The Activity Stream could keep users from getting stuck with the set of people they followed when they first joined.
In the time since the announcement was made, Facebook has rolled out Ticker, its own real-time activity feed. Ticker pulls less compelling action stories such as people friending each other out of the primary news feed. Thankfully, Twitter never cluttered the tweet stream with those dry actions. They’re still valuable, though, and soon all users will have a parallel stream in which to view them.
Once the rollout completes, Twitter will feel less like broadcasting in a vacuum and more like a true social network where your actions, not just your content, influence the people who care about you.
[Thanks to Bill Snitzer and Chris Lubin for the tips]