The (De) Construction Of Twitter

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In the last couple of weeks, both WordPress and Tumblr have announced support for the Twitter API.

The immediate benefits are that any forward thinking Twitter client can now also be a WordPress or Tumblr client as well. Tweetie, one of the most popular iPhone clients, has had support for this for a while and immediately became the tool of choice for testing the new features out. Choices for users expand.

So, with that development aside, where next? I see three things.

1) WordPress should publish an official plugin for WordPress.org that enables the Twitter API for any blog. This act alone could create millions of possible twitter servers.

2) WordPress/Tumblr should make a big deal about how their new changes are also already tied in with real time protocols RSSCloud and pubsubhubbub. This helps make the new twitter servers real time.

3) Everybody outside of Twitter should huddle for a brief second and add some new syntax to the existing twitter api that allows for a piece of metadata to be attached (urls to start), call it optional, and implement.

Or, in short– Now that you’ve shown how easy it is to implement Twitter’s API, rip it out of their hands, build a new community, and then market the hell out of it.

My First Stab At A Trending Topics App – Toppics

The other night I pushed out Toppics, my first little app that plays with Twitter’s Trending Topics.

At the moment it grabs the current trending topics from Twitter every several minutes while searching every few minutes for new tweets that mention twitpic.com as well as the topic. Toppics, get it. 🙂

Version 0.0 is very basic, but very fun. For example, I know when a football game starts because all of a sudden two team names pop up and I have jersey pictures from both sides. I’ve been able to determine that tweeps really like the Christmas tree at the Four Seasons by watching that category for the last day.

The display is only within the last 24 hours, and that does two things. One – it keeps the pictures relevant. One “Monday Night” trending topic is different from another. Two – it can keep picture counts low. I’m learning quickly that some trends just don’t generate pictures. I hope to add some more features in as well soon, possibly refrain from creating a topic page until it has content to display.

The next goal is to add content. It’d be nice to grab visuals from other sources than Twitpic, especially for the topics that don’t generate a lot of traffic. And, while visuals are great, if I can add some context with text, that would be ideal.

All in all, it’s another playground. Feel free to play.

Twitter Is Still Hard – Thoughts On Cross Application Usability

A lot of work is still involved with using Twitter.

Example.

I was just reading a story on the Ft. Hood shootings in the CNN application on my iPod and saw a line in the middle of the story that said “Twitter list: Keep up with who we’re following“. Now, this is a strike against the CNN app, as the text didn’t link to anything. But even if it had, what would it link to? More than likely the @cnnbrk/fort-hood Twitter list, which was created specifically to follow that story.

How would I use this?

If it were linked in the story, it would bring up a Safari window showing the list on Twitter.com.

Safari isn’t my default Twitter reader on the iPod though, Tweetie is.

This isn’t iPod specific either, this is web application specific. If I were looking at the CNN story in Chrome or Firefox, there is currently no way for me to tell the browser that clicking on a Twitter.com link should bring me to Brizzly to read it.

It would be very cool if there was a way for users to specify this type of cross-connection between apps.

I’m betting this is something that could be solved relatively easy in the PC browser world through extensions, but at this point can’t see it even be approached in the strict Apple app development world. At some point, we will realize the need to start treating web applications more like desktop applications in that users will want to leave one to visit another at times as part of their natural application flow.