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One of the sad things about Twitter becoming part of the establishment is the homogeneous and self-aware behaviour it has bred among us. 

Compared to the early days, everyone’s sharing ‘engaging links’ and ‘thought leadership’ and they know what the etiquette is.

Many of the glimpses into people's true nature that used to shine through are filtered in favour of the familiar, sanitised ‘Twitter voice’.

However, every now and then, a new tool pops up that reveals some of that natural behaviour beneath the surface again.

My current favourite of these is BioIsChanged (another Product Hunt find) and does one simple thing: Notifies you when anyone you follow tweaks their Twitter bio.

Who do you think you are?

It may sound fairly innocuous. But, having received my first weekly update over email, I was amazed at the little insights it revealed about people’s behaviour.

Firstly, there’s the obvious sensible useful stuff: people changing jobs or competitors losing clients (and removing the @name from their profile). Increasingly, people embrace that their Twitter bio is a part of their professional existence, so it has to be current.

Beyond that, you then get into the nuances and little updates that tell a story behind the scenes.

          

Often it’s consolidation - throwing away a pile of hashtags for something simple like 'writer' or 'tech PR'. You also see people with growing awareness of profiles showing up prominently in Twitter search.

Something old, something new

Important to all this is the fact it holds the update side-by-side with the previous version. This is especially fun with photos - does this person clearly want to come across more fun? Did they think the paler version of that headshot reflects them better?

But it gets better. You can also poke your way through the full history of updates to someone’s bio over the years (here’s mine, by no means the most interesting). 

So many elements of Twitter emphasise the ephemeral nature of the experience - you’re only as good as your last tweet.

But watching these bios evolve, I think you get a developing polaroid of someone’s personality and realise that just as they’re constantly crafting each tweet, their perception and presentation of themselves is also changing.

In the early days of explaining Twitter to clients, I’d often play up the importance of nosiness to make it a habit and make them someone worth following.

Showing little glimpses of who you really are, what you’re really doing makes people take an interest. We’re a fundamentally curious species.

BioIsChanged brings some of that back, and I think we’re all the better for it.

Maximilian Tatton-Brown

Published 13 August, 2014 by Maximilian Tatton-Brown

Max Tatton-Brown is Founding Director of Augur, and writes about what's next in the world of technology, marketing and startups. He is a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or Google Plus

17 more posts from this author

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