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.

Format and Delivery Are Alive And Well (RSS, Twitter, and Newspapers)

Depending on which source you choose, it was a day in September of 1833, possibly this one, that the first newspaper delivery boy responded to an advertisement in the New York Sun:

To the Unemployed – – A number of steady men can find employment by vending this paper. A liberal discount is allowed to those who buy to sell again.

For at least a thousand years, people have been able to receive news through some kind of bulletin or newspaper format. In a printed format.

RSS is a web feed format used by publishers on the internet to make their material available to others somewhat like the print on paper. In an electronic format.

Twitter is a web application that allows users to publish material in a proprietary format using the service as a delivery method.

Google Reader is a web application that delivers material that has been published in the RSS format to users. It uses it’s own delivery method in which it checks with the publisher every so often to see if new content is available.

Now I will switch from definitions to analogies, because analogies help me understand things.

If I visit RSS formatted feeds manually using my browser as the delivery method– I go on a walk through town whenever I have time,  and visit all of the newspaper press buildings to see new content has been printed since I was last there. This takes a while because I need to travel to New York for the Times, DC for the Post, Chicago for the Tribune, etc…

If I use Google Reader (or another aggregator) as the delivery method for my RSS formatted news– I go on a walk every once and a while to my favorite news stand to see if they have any changes in content available from the newspapers I like.

If I use Twitter as the delivery method and format for my news– I go on a walk to the building in San Francisco which Twitter uses to publish content as it happens. This is great because it’s available as soon as somebody submits it. Every once and a while, I even choose a building in another city to look at content delivered by Twitter. These buildings have agreements to be notified of any news coming out of Twitter headquarters as soon as it happens. There are some other buildings that don’t have agreements, but they still check with Twitter headquarters every once and a while, and I can check new material from them when I go to the newspaper stand.

If I’m using rssCloud as the delivery method for my news that is in the RSS format– I stop going for walks. Instead, I have finally decided to sign up for delivery with all of the newspapers that I love to read. I am only required to open my door and read what’s sitting on my porch. I even have access to content that comes from Twitter, because one of the newspapers that I love to read has an agreement to be told of any news from the Twitter system.

Both delivery and format have been around for a while, nobody’s going anywhere. Thanks, Barney Flaherty. 🙂

Publish, Ping, Subscribe Away With My Status Cloud (You Can Change Settings Now)

Lots of new stuff has been added to My Status Cloud since the last time I chatted. I’ve been in a holding pattern the last couple days while I’ve waited for my thoughts to collect on a few other things, but I haven’t had time to do any actual producing yet, so I’ll push this out for now.

First, the look and feel has changed quite a bit. I always do funny things with colors and rounded corners when I first start, but then get sick of them and go back to shades of grey very quickly – so there you go. Easier to read.

Next, which is more like 4 in 1, you have configurable options!

  • User Settings: You are now able to change or remove your email address and manage your OAuth connection to Twitter through preferences.
  • Ping Settings: If you’ve started to develop your own rss Cloud server and want to try a different client, these settings can be changed to work with your server. Only http-post is supported at the moment, but I’ll be working on a SOAP and XML-RPC version soon.
  • Subscription Settings: Another option for those who have started to implement their own rss Cloud server. These settings allow you to play with the actual cloud element in your My Status Cloud RSS feed. Also with this- only http-post is supported for the time being.
  • Publishing Settings: This is the best part, I think, brought on by what I was thinking in last friday’s post… You can now enter FTP settings to publish your My Status Cloud RSS feed to your own server. If an FTP server exists, the application will attempt to upload your feed (username.xml) to the server specified.

Ponder those changes for a second if you didn’t grab it the first time and I’ll add all the previous pieces together for the overview.

The overview…

  1. You can cross post updates into the rssCloud and/or Twitter at the same time.
  2. Links can be attached as metadata to the update so you can use ALL 140 characters.
  3. These updates, Twitter or not, are saved into an rssCloud compatible feed.
  4. An rssCloud server, rpc.rsscloud.org, is notified every time you update either the cloud or Twitter.
  5. The My Status Cloud client/aggregator shows you the updates immediately after being notified by the server that it has been updated.
  6. You can publish (or backup) your feed anywhere via FTP.
  7. You can start to manage your feed through an rssCloud server other than rpc.rsscloud.org.

There you have it. Try away and report away if you see anything unexpected.