Twitter has just taken a step toward a richer social experience with its exciting new "lists" feature, which gives users the ability to organize individual accounts into groups. For example, a user can create and share a list of "celebrity" accounts that they follow. Twitter lists may be marked by their creators as public, or kept private for personal use.
In a move sure to be popular with developers, Twitter has added list manipulation features to their API (see our Twitter API profile). Last week, Twitter founder Biz Stone wrote about the significance of the Lists API on the Twitter Blog:
Lists also make it easier to curate tweets into meaningful real-time experiences on your own sites via the Lists API. Media companies are already taking advantage: for example, check out @huffingtonpost's use of the Lists API in their World Series coverage... We’ve been taking our time rolling out the lists feature to make sure things go smoothly and developers have a chance to begin experimenting with our Lists API.
The Twitter API's new list functions are still in private beta, and will be rolled out to the public soon. The List API uses the same familiar RESTful interface as other aspects of the Twitter API, and data can be returned in either XML or JSON format. Developers are also able to access data about the number of accounts and tweets associated with a particular list, and to find out whether or not a list has been made public.
The Twitter API allows developers to create and update lists, add accounts, and manage user subscriptions to lists. Developers are also able to include list descriptions when creating new lists and query if a user account belongs to a particular list. Another interesting feature of the API is access to the entire collection of a user's public lists, with the data returned either as a single array, or optionally, broken up into pages.
The Twitter API's new list features are likely to inspire tons of new apps that take advantage of grouped accounts. Several new sites have already been built using the Lists API: Listorious provides a searchable directory of interesting Twitter lists, while TLISTS is a platform that allows media organizations to publish and manage a large amount of lists at a time. Certainly lots more coming soon.
For a listing of hundreds of mashups that are already using the Twitter API, see our Twitter mashup directory.