Update April 2023: Looks like Twitter's now broken this too, and this no longer works 🫠

The Problem

Twitter officially banned third-party apps last week, which meant I needed to find a solution to a problem that was driving me crazy; Twitter's frustrating first-party platform.

Twitter's iOS app, and website, are a mess of ads, recommended posts, "Liked by" tweets, algorithmically trending topics and news, the "For You" default column, and bugs. I find it a noisy, messy place to be.

I'd say I've always been more a Tweetbot user, never a "Twitter" user. If you never had the pleasure of using it, Tweetbot was this beautiful iOS Twitter client; it felt like it'd been hand-crafted with such love and care for details, with incredible design, carefully-considered user experience, better features than the core Twitter app, and best of all, a chronological timeline that showed every tweet, in order, and synced to where I was up to across my iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Just as a side note on how important third-party Twitter clients were to the development of Twitter; it was third-party apps that came up with the word "tweet", that first used a bird image for branding, that first introduced muting, and even invented wider OS behaviours like pulling to refresh. The Verge has a great article here with more detail.

Image from https://tapbots.com/tweetbot/

I follow people very intentionally on Twitter: everyone on my following list brings some sort of value to my life, and I don't want to miss any of their writing! Since starting my Twitter account 13 years ago I've come across so many business ideas, inspiration, recommended tools, curiosity-led rabbit holes, and mind-expanding discussions from the smart, inspiring people I follow, so missing out on tweets due to the main Twitter app thinking it knows what I want to see is just not why I use the platform.

I created a Mastodon account, and I'm cautiously very excited about the potential there (as well as excited to try Ivory when it's released – the new Mastodon client being developed by the creators of Tweetbot), however the problem here is the majority of people I follow on Twitter haven't moved across to Mastodon; the maker/indie-hacker, startup crowd.

So that's my problem: I want to keep up with all my Twitter followers, but doing so using the core Twitter app is a messy, chaotic experience. But I think I've found a solution.

The Solution

This is super simple, but has been working wonderfully for the past few days.

I've been a huge fan of a tool called Mailbrew for the last year or so. The idea is that you can build your own email digests from almost any source on the internet, and have that digest delivered to your inbox, rather than spending hours scrolling timelines.

I've had a daily digest sent every morning at 6am for a year now, full of the latest posts from my favourite tech sites, uploads from my favourite YouTubers, top posts in certain subreddits, Hackernews, the weather, Product Hunt, mentions of designstripe or DrawKit on Twitter, etc. It's a super useful tool, and I recommend it to anyone.

But what it can also do is build an email newsletter based on a Twitter list 💡

So what I've done is move every single person I'm following into a single Twitter List called "Twitter Digest" (use a bulk list-management tool to speed this up), and now every morning at 6am I get a nice, long email, filled with every tweet everyone I follow has posted within the last 24 hours.

This has the added side benefit of keeping me away from mindlessly scrolling feeds during the day – I know I can just wait for the next digest tomorrow morning and not miss anything.

I then forward these into MyMind or Matter, depending on what format the content is in, but that's for a whole different post!

So that's my solution! I'm sort of hopeful we all move over to Mastodon or similar, there's some really interesting potential around the idea of a universal timeline that links together multiple platforms and services, as Craig Hockenberry, one of the creators of Twitterific, talks about at the end of this post here, but until then, this seems to be working nicely.