Twitgnostic: Removing Social Context from a Social Network

How relevant are the username, handle, and avatar next to the 140-or-fewer-character messages in your Twitter timeline? How do the experience and meaning change if content is decoupled from social context? How clearly can you recognize the ‘voice’ of individual people you follow? If you use Google Chrome, you can find out using Twitgnostic.

Inspired by Benjamin Grosser‘s Facebook Demetricator, this is the second Chrome extension I’ve created and the first made available to others. The behavior is toggled by an icon at top-right of the Twitter.com web client, so you can easily enter and leave this mode at your whim. Give it a try for a few minutes, or hours, or days; please enjoy the parallax view provided.

The prototype made in November 2012 acted primarily through jQuery, and suffered as a result: new messages added to the timeline, especially when expanding conversations, were not stripped of their identifying elements quickly enough. By moving most of the critical twitgnosticization to injected CSS instead, the second revision was far more responsive. The latest addition enables communication with others via at-reply without knowing their identity.

You can find the project on GitHub