Summary: Have you suffered from extreme malaise ever since last year when Twitter killed off the media “grid view” that allowed you to view users’ old photos/videos? I know I have. Well, it would appear that finally our long global nightmare is over – Twitter has now come back with an attractive and easy to use “media grid” that archives images and videos previously posted by all users.
Regular readers of this blog will recall that we’ve been chronicling changes to how you view Twitter users’ past photos and videos for nearly a year now. Our first post on the subject came last summer after we noticed that Twitter had silently killed the old “Grid View” that hard previously archived recent images each user had shared. We were offered some relief a few weeks later when a Belgian programmer created a Google Chrome extension that mimicked the “Grid” behavior, but even that was short lived and stopped working after a few months. A little background on those earlier changes before we proceed with the latest developments:
If you’re new to Twitter, allow me to explain – Twitter’s recent images “Grid View” option was essentially the album/gallery view that allowed you to skim over thumbnails to determine which images you actually wanted to see in full size. Obviously this is preferable to having to start at the most recent image and flip/click through each one individually, and it’s pretty standard online photo gallery/album functionality. As I recall, Twitter even had a “Grid View” button in the upper right so you could easily return after viewing individual photos.
Twitter is rolling out “user galleries” to members beginning Monday. Galleries will display the 100 most-recent images the user has tweeted — dating back to January 1, 2010 — from supported photo-sharing services.
Galleries will live on a user’s profile and highlight a few recent images. A visitor can click the “view all” button to see even more images in either a grid view showing image thumbnails or a detail view highlighting the most-recent image and the text of the tweet that was shared along with it.
Even the images in those posts seem outdated because the recent image galleries evolved visually over the last year, before their sudden disappearance this summer, when we were all like:
At the time a Twitter employee claimed in a forum that the killing of grid view was an “experiment”, not a bug. I was skeptical at first, but came around to the idea because if it were just a bug, they would have fixed it. Instead I believe the “experiment” was all about revenue – if users were spending time flipping through photo galleries, they weren’t seeing/clicking ads as often and Twitter wasn’t making money. Still, this was short-term thinking because the negative user experience could drive users away, causing the “experiment” to backfire.
Then came the next big overhaul in February. One would have hoped that it was an improvement, but sadly it was not. Despite a misleading name, the Twitter “Gallery View” was anything but:
Twitter Media Gallery
As you can see, the main change Twitter has made is that when you click one of the 6 recent images shown on an individual user’s profile, it is enlarged in a light-box labeled “Media Gallery” and the background is shaded over. The tweet itself is shown as well which includes the link to again either the black background Twitter image view or to the third-party site that the photo originated from. The new Twitter Media Gallery looks nice, but the name is misleading because there is no “gallery view” that allows you to see ALL thumbnails and choose which ones you want to look at. You still have to click through each individual photo, whether you’re interested in all of them or not.
This was a major change, but really only in appearance. Functionally it was still as bad as the previous format. This also came shortly after Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion Twitter’s subsequent retirement of tweet embedded Instagram photos – Twitter started to only allow external links to Instagram images rather than images that were visible in-stream, which had previously been the case.
Well, after all of this seemingly unnecessary restructuring, and valid complaints from users like yours truly, it seems that Twitter finally got the message this summer – #bringbackgalleryview. Now when you’re looking at an individual user’s page and you want to see their past photos and videos, there is a “Photos and videos” link above the preview of the 6 most recent pix/vids in the left column. See our Twitter page as an example:
That little “Photos and videos” link has opened up our Twitter worlds once again. Check out how the new gallery/media grid looks:
What I’m not clear on is what dictates the earliest images in any given user’s grid. Is it a certain number of photos/videos? Size limit? Is there a certain start date? It looks to me like it can’t be determined by when you joined Twitter because we posted media to Twitter May 14, 2012, but that’s the earliest image Twitter has in our media gallery. But it’s also not based on some static start date for all users, because I looked at the media grid for some other accounts and some go back to 2011.
I didn’t spend a lot of time doing it, but I did Google a bit to find an answer to this question and came up empty. I just see a handful of posts from others who’ve also noticed the new grid, including this post that makes a great point about how there’s still room for improvement, including media-type filters.
Either way, we finally have some positive news to report in this ongoing Twitter archived photo/video saga. Now you can all go back to Twitter stalking your favorite Tweeps!