Jul 19

Twitter friends

Twitter Numbers

Why is that Twitter usually has the numbers on the Left hand side of the image and then when I press refresh, or update a message, the ‘people’ changes to ‘Followers’ and the number changes?

Update: And a few hours after I write this, they update the interface and it’s no longer wonky. We no longer have friends – we just follow or are followed.

Jun 26

Save Net radio

Today, the US web lies quiet in a protest day to Save Net Radio

The future of Internet radio is in immediate danger. Royalty rates for webcasters have been drastically increased by a recent ruling and are due to go into effect on July 15 (retroactive to Jan 1, 2006!). To protest these rates and encourage the millions of net radio listeners to take action and contact their Congressional representatives, today is a national Day of Silence.

Many stations, who pay royalities and licensing under the previous rates, are being hit by this. If you’re American, think about contacting your representative; if you’re something else, remember the music industry is global and what’s to stop it happening there.
And it’s not just the small companies affected, even Yahoo, (and Yahoo Music) and MTV are joining in.

Myth: Yahoo! (and other big Webcasters) can “afford” these rates. Fact: LAUNCHcast loses money under these rates. Yahoo! has no appetite to run radio as a loss-leader.

Jun 25

Social Networks and Class

danah boyd has posted a thoughts-in-progress study on class divides in the US youth use of social networks, looking at the different behaviours and cultural expectations of users of Facebook and MySpace.

Over the last six months, I’ve noticed an increasing number of press articles about how high school teens are leaving MySpace for Facebook. That’s only partially true. There is indeed a change taking place, but it’s not a shift so much as a fragmentation. Until recently, American teenagers were flocking to MySpace. The picture is now being blurred. Some teens are flocking to MySpace. And some teens are flocking to Facebook. Who goes where gets kinda sticky… probably because it seems to primarily have to do with socio-economic class.

A fascinating read, especially as it tries to delve into US class paradigms, which apparently are not spoken of, as opposed to the UK where we can have a ‘healthy’ debate about it, especially in comedy shows.

The BBC has also picked up this story, although they are identifying it as a formal study:

A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites.

and seem to be treating what is observational essay as a formal academic study, despite danah claiming the opposite: “Hopefully, one day, I can get the words together to actually write an academic article about this topic, but I felt as though this is too important of an issue to sit on while I find the words. So I wrote it knowing that it would piss many off.’

Jun 18

MySpace Support Time

After my little problem on MySpace a couple of weeks ago, I finally got back a response to the Report Abuse emails I get, a boiler plate response that tells me to block the offender. So why bother reporting in the first place? In contrast to this, take a look at the Flickr support process, which whilst not perfect still seems to get many of the issues sorted – eventually. However, that kind of response tends to get people expecting it every time. No response within 2 mins does not mean that you should report the problem again and again!

Jun 13

Flickr and Censorship

Flickr have been having a rough ride lately when it comes to claims of censorship. From the introduction of filters to the banning from China and today additional filters in 4 countries based on local Terms of Service. As a product, I love Flickr, I’ve never had any issues with it. But the reality of working on an international product across multiple countries with differing local laws and social expectations seems to be hitting hard and not everythign has been handled well.

The Filters

Flickr used to have 2 options – your photos were open to everyone or they were not included in the search due to content or type of images. Filters were introduced in March in order to give people more control over what they see. This is based on a user self-assessing their photos as safe, moderate or restricted and also choosing their level of comfort in the types of images they see. When launched there was confusion about these 2 types of choices and there still is – people regularly pop up in the bug forum asking why images cannot be seen, not having got the message that filters are in place. There are also real bugs still in the system, with images appearing at the wrong time, such as when not logged in but being visible if logged in.

The filtering method has been seen as censorship by some, with passionate discussions taking place about what constitutes ‘safe’ and whose morals and perspectives set the baseline. Because what is normal and OK in one country may be extremely restricted in another. For me, I find it weird that some people find nudity in classic statues upsetting; the UK moved on from that phase after the Victorians 😉 But some do take this POV, which can lead to what is seen as misuse of the Report Abuse flag, either through their own lens of what is ‘proper’ or deliberately to create hassle.

The deletions and account statuses

There have been two high profile cases of images being filtered or removed. The first was of Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir. Her images were being sold against her copyright declaration, and the discussion that resulted on her Flickr pages was deleted. She received an apology, where Stewart Butterfield said:

The photo was deleted — again, mistakenly — because of the direction the comments had gone, which included posting the personal information of the infringing company’s owner and suggestions for how best to exact revenge. It is an emotional issue and most people were there to support Rebekka in a positive way, but some of the angry mob behavior crossed the line.

In Rebekkah’s case all was resolved and a wider discussion was held that helped modify some Flickr Policies. But then an over-enthusiastic application of policies happened again with Violet Blue whose whole account was switched to restricted by an admin before being reviewed and reverted back. (btw, if you are of a sensitive nature or at work, that link may trigger filters!) As Violet says:

This touches on a much larger issue that I think is the Achilles’ Heel of 2.0 (especially community and social networking) businesses. Trying to build a business about creating community while hoping to avoid making room for human nature. Sidestepping sexuality (Flickr), attempting to weed it out of community clusters (Tribe), or trying to pretend it doesn’t exist by blanket censorship (YouTube). Each of these responses punish users. And none of them work, and are a constant battle, and destroys relations between the businesses and the communities they’re attempting to serve (and make money off of). It also adds a lot of confusion to conversations about what businesses are legally liable for, what’s permissible and legal for individuals.

Flickr is not a closed group, it has to cope with multiple viewpoints – it’s trying hard and personally I think the filters are a great step, but errors are going to be made.

The Corporate Censorship

And now we move onto the bigger picture – actual censorship taking place due to country’s laws. First of all, Flickr was blocked by China
. There was and still is a large outcry in the forums, with people blaming Flickr on the one hand and on the other providing ways to work around the GFW so that people can still see images. All Flickr and Yahoo can do is try and find out why it is blocked and negotiate with the country.

Today, a new policy kicked into action:

If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong or Korea you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service so won’t be able to turn SafeSearch off.

By the timing of it, this appears to be related to the localisation of the service, as German, Chinese and Korean versions are all now available. Local versions mean you have to abide by local Terms of Service. From the German users in particular, there has been a large and volatile reaction, looking at the forum and images such as assbach’s. Unfortunately, the change co-incided with many of the community team travelling to promote their new localisation, to staff presence in the forum topics has been zero until very recently and there is still no formal response to what is happening, which just fuels the debate.

And as I get to the end of this, I find that Thomas Hawk, CEO of Zooomer, another photo service yet still a heavy Flickr user, has also done a summary of the situation and his feeling s about this. Thomas has been one of the more vocal critics of Flickr, but he does try and keep it more objective than some of the forum posters.

With all the changes recently and the general rise in the use of web based apps, Flickr have been gaining a lot more new users and will get more when Yahoo photos close. But the difficulties of scaling up, of adding filters, of localising, of coming into the corporate fold with a Yahoo login and the move to Yahoo wallet away from Paypal, all of these are slowly adding up to remove the feel good factor for many people who have been members for a longtime. Some of the special factors that made Flickr Flickr seem to be subsumed by the reality of running a real, global business and not a small friendly web2.0 website. I still love the service, but i think business reality is destroying a little gezellig corner of the web.

Jun 13

Mahalo now for you too

Jason Calacanis’ new search engine Mahalo expands today, with Mahalo Greenhouse. You can apply to be a ‘part-time guide’, submit search entries and get paid for doing so, $10-15 but only if you are a US citizen or permanent resident. I’m neither but still work and pay taxes in the US – so I think that needs changing. If you are from somewhere else, there’ll be a donation to Wikipedia, making this a good way of donating to that foundation.

i find this line “PTGs can’t write search results that already exist on Mahalo” interesting. You have to submit something new, which widens the topics covered, but at some point it will be a law of diminishing returns, surely?

They’re looking for experiences web curators; the application requests URLS and usernames for many of the community driven sites. Unless you’re already active on the web, you’re not getting in. It’s calling for altruistic people, those who want to help. And you’re unlikely to be be making a lot of money off this, but it could by you the odd beer.

As a service, I’m liking Mahalo, as a supplement and value add search engine. It sits between a more typical SE and Wikipedia in finding out useful information and giving an overview of the topic. It gives you a further source, a curated source that allows you to expand your research, as you should be doing anyway of you’re looking for things. A recommendation engine with a sense of humour ;-). Jason’s always trying to shake things up – I’m pretty sure he’ll never stop pushing wikipedia to accept advertising – and Mahalo could be a success in doing just that.

Jun 06

NY Tech Meetup

I went along to the NY Tech meetup last night and had a good time. Five short presentations from companies in the NY area, plus a couple of extras from James Hing of Hot or Not (who I also met with on Monday at an IAB event) and Dave Weinberger who gave a 10 minute version of his book. However, Dave and Sanford have done a great job of blogging the actual presenations, so I’ll just add my impressions.

  • Goloco. After the success of Zipcars, Robin moves into shared journeys. Join and you can find friends who are going to the same place as you. Lovely implementation, aimed at existing groups rather than random strangers who meet online.
  • ExpoTV. I’d never seen this before but superb extension of the review space into video. The revenue share for the reviewers, at $5/video is a good idea. They are realistic about advertisers getting into the mix and provide a way for it to be transparent.
  • LiveLOOK. You can share screens via a browser without any downloads, so it can be an alternative to stuff like webex without a download. A paid service, especially useful for service agents, although I was uncomfortable with an answer to a security question (what’s to stop you just putting numbers in until you find a live feed). There are free alternatives to this, ie MSM share desktop, that will be useful for c2c usage but there is an attraction for b2c or b2b.
  • Adaptive Blue. I loved this, taking metadata from pages and extending them via contextual menus in the bowser or direct via links. Installed!
  • Mogulus. This got the biggest reaction of the night, with a vary cool demo. The service allows you to run video and do lots of cool overlay stuff, live broadcast, plan programming etc. Another entry into the lifecast area, but more focused towards linear programming

The other 2 sessions were a last minute overview of Hot or Not and how James is putting the service onto Facebook and a run through the ideas behind Everything is Miscellaneous from David; it’s a pity I’d already bought the book and read it, as I did not have it with me to get it autographed. One last aside, I found it strange that there was a cheer raised when it was announced that 4 of the presenters were women – if you have to bring attention to it, you need to work on doing it differently.

Jun 05

Do you speak kitteh?

The Globe and Mail, the Toronto paper, had a lovely piece on Thursday about the rise of kitteh, the ‘language’ found on the lolcatz images and the derivatives that have sprung up. Unfortunately I left the paper in the hotel and it’s behind a paywall on the site, although the article does appear to be here for now (I wonder for how long, as this appears to be a back door). It’s a semi-serious look at the language and the rules around it and how they have evolved.

Lolcatese is often based on such catch structures or snowclones. Grown-ups don’t recognize these snowclones because the formulae may come from gamerspeak or from the dramatized sequences of Japanese video games. Variations of the phrase “im in ur base killing ur d00ds” (apparently, a famously hilarious joke to players of Warcraft III) are a commonplace of lolcatese, where the sentence “im in ur x, ying your n” is frequently varied.

They can analyse all they wish, I just enjoy the stuff.

May 02

The cats are in on it

I can Has Cheezburger

I was going to write a post explaining the background to this, but Ethan has done a brilliant job doing just so and it’s pointless to repeat why this number has raised such passions.

For much of yesterday, almost the whole of the front page of Digg was related to the HD-DVD story, triggered by the numerous cease and desist notices. Digg appears to have calmed down now, no doubt helped by Kevin Rose’s acknowledgement of what his users were telling him, that bowing down to pressure about this issue would not be tolerated. On his last post, sitting at nearly 30k Diggs, he said the following:

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

Kevin Rose on Digg

The page is sort of back to normal, although the top 10 story listings this morning carry their own tale.

Digg top stories

Meanwhile, the number of posts and sites containing the number currently site at around 60k on Google (or 300k without dashes or quotes). The cat is so out of the bag. The AACS site explains that they withdrew a key for some devices, which I think is this one? However, the whole furore demonstrates the futility of relying on security where the lock and the key have to be in the same device. It will get cracked and it’s an arms race in which there are far more people on the cracking side. The music industry are already travelling this road, are the film industry going to end up in anywhere different?

A recent study by the BBC Trust into its intention to offer video on demand concluded that:

When it came to video content, the situation was far more complex. Although no specific question addressed it, the Trust came away with the impression that, while industry considered DRM a given, the vast majority of the public was opposed to it.

Don’t restrict where i can play my DVDs. Don’t force me to buy only one operating systems. Let me choose where and when I watch things that I have bought!

PS: I know sometimes reporters get things wrong, but this story on MSNBC (apparently from the FT) seems to be from a none-existent timezone.

On Thursday, Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder, reversed course and said the company would no longer delete articles featuring the encryption key, even though that might lead to the site being shut down by lawsuits.

Apr 30

B5Media Growth

A nice piece over at Chitika Blog, where Jeremy Wright, President/CEO of B5 Media talks about how the network developed and some lessons learnt. He discusses the 4 key things that could be regarded as the company mission statement:

1. Make our bloggers famous – every chance we got we wanted to promote our bloggers

2. Value community – we honestly felt (and now know) that a strong internal community can make anything happen

3. Focus on great writers and keeping them happy – do this and the rest (traffic, revenue, etc) will happen

4. Build an industry – we’ve believed from day 1 that working with other networks, other owners and building real partnerships and sharing resources was the only way to turn the hodgepodge of networks into a real industry

Meanwhile, Behind the Buzz, the blog I’m writing for B5, has ‘officially’ launched.

Apr 25

My Telegraph

Via Adam Tinworth, I see that the Telegraph is launching a new service, called My Telegraph. Y

My Telegraph allows any reader to create their own blog, store all the comments they make on other readers’ blogs and save articles to read later. Version one of the site, which you can see below, will be ready to go live soon.

This is a different way to go than USAToday, which allow you to comment on stories and vote for them (but never against them). It’s targeted at non-bloggers and I think it’s a great way to get interaction with the paper and with likeminded individuals around issues and news stories.

Apr 24

Flickr and Upcoming connection

I’ve never seen this before, a Flickr photo with an upcoming event tag. Sheila added these tags manually. But as they are both now on the same login, I guess it can be done automatically now…wonder if we will see this?

Flickr and Upcoming connection

Apr 23

TV news of the future

I like Dave Winer’s idea for how TV news may evolve, allowing you to choose what you want to watch. He’s made a mock up here. Let me choose what stories I want to here and, more importantly, when I want to stop hearing about stuff. There comes a point when there is no new information, just new opinion to fill the airtime. Those are the times that it’s useless to me – but may not be for others who like this stuff. Let us choose which bits we want.

Apr 20

Google tracks everything

Google today launches its Web History feature that allows you to track your all your web activity with the simple addition of a Google account and the Google Toolbar. So you will now give even more of your life to the engine that is out to know everything about you, with your web history, your email, your blogging history and your click streams. Decide how much of your attention stream you wish to share. You can pause the data collection but it may be easier to have 2 browsers.

However, one interesting thing that is there is the ability to export your attention stream, to take it out of Google via RSS, so you should be able to grab it and move it elsewhere, to analyse it or to feed it into another tool. Google will also analyse it for you.

Good and bad – you can track you activity and use it for whatever you need. But so can Google.

Apr 19

The spread of the machine is us/ing us

If you read tech blogs regularly, you’ll have seen this video:

A sublime introduction to how the web is changing. Sue Thomas, a wonderful woman I bumped into a Blogher, has a post about her experience at the Web2.0 conference, where she met up with Mike Wesch who explained how it spread:

Wesch explained that he had made the video to accompany an academic journal paper, and sent it to two techies and eight anthropology colleagues to check out whether it worked – something we’ve all done lots of times. One of the anthropologists posted it on a blog with three users (according to Wesch) and within no time at all he had collected 100 views on YouTube. He was incredibly excited. When it hit 253 views he was so proud he told his Department Head. The next day he woke up to find himself featured on his own DIGG front page. Then he got 450 Diggs. That weekend he and his wife stayed up late watching the numbers rise. On 2 Feb his video went to the top 5 on youtube and stayed there for 3 weeks, dislodging even Superbowl adverts. Within a week of posting it was on 6000 blogs according to Technorati, and after a week mentions of it began to appear in newsprint. After another week, it had appeared in papers in every continent around the globe.

Apr 01

The Commercialisation of Twitter

Update – Twitterati was an April fool (sort of).

With utter predictability and inevitability, commercial interests invade Twitter. When first showed it to colleagues some of them were asking questions about how to market on it, others were just generally fascinated. But now we are getting into the real activity.

First of all we see domain squatters, people picking up usernames with no intention of ever using them just in the hope that someone else will value them and pay good money for them. Then we have those who are speculating on names as a way to make future money off the service, eg getting zipcodes or the like to offer location based services. Given the current open subscription model, where you have to pay nothing to just add a person to your friend list, I’m not sure if these service ideas will get off the ground as a value proposition anytime soon, but they could still be useful tools. And I’d be surprised if the Obvious crew stood by ad let that sort of service make money by using the servers and tools without contributing somehow!

The we have the marketing within Twitter, the pay per tweet concept that I speculated about in the earlier post. Twitterati looks to be running a beta programme to pay people to Twitter about products, as i was updated on far too many times by a ‘friend’ who decided to spam the service yesterday and today. Ooops, this was an April fool. But one that was too close to reality and felt real given the some of the conversations I had had over the last week – I’m pretty sure something like this has to be in the works. The full story is over on YesButNoButYes . The very real possibility of and the fact that it was around on my Saturday (damn timezones) meant I did not even consider that it was hoaxy.

And I twittered it, and waited. I didn’t expect a mad rush of emails, not in a single day, but obviously within the email, I’d embedded the notion that to be noticed, you had to spread the word. So people did, and by the end of the day, I had close to 100 requests to get into the program, some from pretty well-respected bloggers (apologies to all of you, but SHAME on you for offering to sell out your Twitters so easily 🙂


You will only see the paid tweets if it is someone you are subscribed to, so you can always get rid of them; unfortunately the nice trick of Twitter turning most URLS to tinyurls means that you may not be able to see where they are sending you until it is too late. But even if you unsub from their, their tweets could still be ‘polluting’ some of the nice tools that have been built, such as Twittervision. Yesterday, this was being hit by multiple tweets from ‘ads’, what looks like an automated bot that has posted over 7500 tweets in the last 2.5 days.

Twittervision spam

Ad Tweet graph

But David Troy has anticipated this and the green or orange buttons allow you to mark a tweet as unlikeable. And ignore the Starbucks logo on the map – that’s the April Fool for the site, after Scoble’s suggestion he gets sponsorship from them and mark the stores on the map.

These won’t be the last attempts to make money from the service. The only saving grace I see is that you can so easily remove people from your list to avoid the commercialism. But there could be a great set of attention ads – set up a service that will send promotions to you based on keywords. So if i was looking for hotels in a city, I could be sent some great offers that are just for me.

Mar 27

Justin.tv – Voyeurism to the extreme

Justin.tv is the latest attempt to show a life on camera. Whereas before the webcams were tied to the PC, tied to the line but digital and mobile prices have dropped enough to make this a viable option. 24 hours a day, Justin wears a camera on his hat and streams his life to the world.

This is pushing the boundaries; Justin has said he will wear the camera thoughout the day, whatever he is doing. To help in the viewer ratings, this includes dates and what potentially comes after (although not sure if he can do that, what with the various laws about data retention). It’s ‘fun’ to watch, in a weird way. I;ve said that Twitter is fascinating for the gossip reasons; this takes that idea far further.

But one unfortunate result, given the blog conversations over the last day, is some of the commentary that takes place in the live chat; comments about Justin’s sexuality,the people he sees. The women he sees and interacts with. Justin.tv has been praised by the usually early adopters. When they are watching it, I’d like to see them in the chat standing up and guiding the conversation to a place less derogatory, when it slips too far.

Mar 19

Twitter – A study

This is a tale of Twitter, about what it is, what it does, what people think about and what people have done with it. It’s more of a case study, pulling together lots of posts and articles out there already. Yes, I could use a bookmarking tool to collect them, but I need to put together such as case study , so into the blog the information goes. And it’s long! So skip this post if you are tired of it! And if you Twitter and read blogs you’ve probably seen most of it anyway 😉

What is Twitter?

Twitter was “born as an interesting side project within the offices of Odeo in March of 2006.” It’s a free service that sits astride SMS (texting), IM and the web; after creating an account you can post your stream of 140 character posts, small snippets of consciousness, detailing the minutia of your life – or more important stuff. I’ve seen travel information, social meet-ups arranged, engagements and pregnancies announced.

You can send and receive from any of the three channels depending on your preference. Work across all 3 or just choose one. Personally, I just use the web interface; if you go for the text version either choose your friends carefully or make sure your plan can take volume.(although from a UK perspective, paying to receive SMS is weird) Or you may end up twittering something like this.

JasonCalacanis: oh sh@#$%@#$%t… jsut checked my tmobile bill: 2,367 extra messages… $236.70 in extra charges!!! does tmobile have unlimited?!?!?!?!

Subscribing to Friends?

Did I say friends? Yes, as with other ‘web2.0 tools’ you can make your own network of friends. Know their Twitter address? Then you can subscribe to them and receive all of their messages – see the FAQs for details. When you subscribe, the system sends an email/text to your target and gives them the offer of subscribing back. So you will share what they deem to share’ with some people it may be once a week, others many times a day.

Why Twitter and not a blog? Or Dodgeball?

Dodgeball is a similar SMS system, where you can subscribe to friends and they can follow you, but it is focused on locations, letting people know where you are. Check into a place and it will tell your list, so they can find you and you can get together for social activities (or work!). And a blog is usually longer length and usually works across one channel only, the web, although there are hacks to get the info on other channels. The rational and emotional reasons behind using Twitter seem to be different. Dodgeball is geographically constrained to cities where it has a presence; blogs are perceived to take work (and should). Twitter is easy, global (with the IM and web), thoughtless in that you can just post a stream of thoughts. It’s just easier

The Growth of Twitter

Twitter has been going about a year, with a public life of about 6 months; it had its one year anniversary during this years SXSW, a tech conference that undoubtedly gave the service the push that it needed, taking it a tipping point. Andy, at waxy.org, has take a look at the growth of the service, using the message IDs of Ev Williams to chart the number of messages being sent over the service. Andy also provides the raw data for you to manipulate as well. And read the comments, some interesting insights/guesses into how the back end is working as well as challenges to the analysis.


There’s another set of growth numbers from Data Mining. So far I have not found any numbers for subscriptions, how many people are joining up, but they are probably following a similar curve. But they are growing faster than anticipated:

Our growth projections were too humble!
Things are a bit slow over the web parts of Twitter until we add more dedicated machines

And today the inevitable chart site popped up, looking at the top 100 users – go and take a look at Twitterholic.com. Amongst certain types (who know who they are!) this will promote the battle to be top, to be seen to have the most ‘friends’, the most followers, the most readers and subscribers. But size (of followers) is not everything. Dunbar’s number gives a level for how many people you can interact with comfortably; whether this applies to Twitter I’m not sure, but it shifts the use of the service from an interaction between people who know each other to a broadcast mechanism.

Top Twits

Looking at the numbers, you can also track the connections. Starting off with Scoble in the centre, here’s a visualisation of all the circles (for which I can’t find the original reference, just the image…).

Posting to Twitter

It’s pretty easy to post your thoughts to Twitter using the three main channels, but there are a growing number of tools that allow you to post exactly as you want to.

a Mac widget, it allows you to both read and post your tweets to the service.
Twitteroo: a similar widget for your PCs.

Both of these allow you to post and read from a desktop without having a browser window open. If you are working in a browser but don’t want to open the Twitter page, you can always try the Firefox Search plugin from Ludicious, the treats the search window as in input tool to Twitter. I like the warning they have, reminding you to switch back to your normal search engine, just in case you tweet your next search term.

Twitter Users

It’s not just you and me that have a twitter channel. News organisations, conferences and services all have feeds available, such as the BBC, CNN. The Press Association is going to be feeding headlines from the UK budget into Twitter, as well as Second Life. Politicians are also using it, as one of the many ways they are tapping into social media – take a look at John Edwards.

And if a suitable feed is there, you do not have to wait for the organisation to put their own twitter out there. Tom Morris has taken the output from the London Tube delay announcements and turned these into Twitters to which you can subscribe. Kosso has also done some interesting things in posting; the first is an anonymous posting interface called confession. As expected, the tweets can get rather extreme at times, don’t subscribe if you are of a nervous disposition. The second one takes advantage of the @sign that has emerged as a way of responding to people. Use that to send a tweet to dictionary with a word and it will go and look up the word in the Urban Dictionary and provide the first definition back to you (as long as you are subscribed). Try looking up the word twitter (nsfw!).

Using Twitter Streams

The presence of an API has allowed plenty of mash-ups to be made. Kosso is feeding tweets in and out of Second Life using BlogHUD. And take a look at the work that Dave Troy has done. First of all, TwitterMap (no longer active) which plots you on Google maps and shows your and your geographical neighbours tweets. Next up is Twittervision (no longer active, which shows tweets from around the world in a never ending stream of useless info on a map. It’s fascinating! Dave has also thrown up Twittersearch (no longer active), allowing you to search for terms across the public stream. And if you want to see what links people are sharing across the service, here’s Twitterbuzz.

The Reaction to Twitter

You love it or you hate it. You find it banal and useless or the best thing since sliced bread. You feel that the competition that is sneaking in is spoiling the community or you want nothing more than to get read more people and increase your numbers. Go search posts on Technorati or delicious. Posts that have caught my eye (mainly from people I read anyway):

Luis at elusa.com with post about how Twitter can help build networks and relationships. Like many, it appeared his opionion changed completely after he had started to use the system,

here is a weblog entry that I have put together where I have listed 10 reasons why I strongly believe that Twitter is actually a very empowering social software tool that would help knowledge workers improve their already existing social networks. Yes, that is right, 10 good reasons why you would want to continue make use of Twitter or why if you haven’t gotten started with it yet, it may be a good opportunity to do so now.

danah gives her thoughts on the geek use and likens it to MySpace use of bulletins amongst peers. Bringing up the text restrictions from a US perspective gives you some of the problems that the system may have trouble with a wider adoption in this age group (and a great comment explains why the US system is so stupid with receiver paying)

The techno-geek users keep telling me that it’s a conversation. Of course, this is also said of blogging. But i don’t think that either are typically conversations. More often, they are individuals standing on their soap boxes who enjoy people responding to them and may wander around to others soap boxes looking for interesting bits of data. By and large, people Twitter to share their experience; only rarely do they expect to receive anything in return. What is returned is typically a kudos or a personal thought or an organizing question. I’d be curious what percentage of Tweets start a genuine back-and-forth dialogue where the parties are on equal ground. It still amazes me that when i respond to someone’s Tweet personally, they often ignore me or respond curtly with an answer to my question. It’s as though the Tweeter wants to be recognized en masse, but doesn’t want to actually start a dialogue with their pronouncements.

Tara explains her passion for the service with a detailed post about how and why she uses the service.

Do I think Twitter scales? Nope. I don’t think community ’scales’, either. I look at my long list of friends and feel I need to start switching some off (although it’s an insanely difficult decision because I’m actually interested in learning more about the people who update rarely as well). I have found it insanely helpful as well as entertaining. It IS crack. It IS distracting. It has also created an awesome ‘efficiency’ in my life…an emotional efficiency so to speak, where I have 140 characters to vent and get to connect with others that do the same.

The comments also include one of the best soundbites from Alan :

is Twitter therefore just Hello! magazine for the geeks 😉

Kathy Sierra has a brilliant post on how Twitter could be the final straw in breaking the brain bandwidth and rounds up a lot of the reaction.

We’ve all been at the brain bandwidth breaking point for the last five years. Email is out of control. IM’ing sucks up half the day. And how can we not read our RSS feeds, post to our blogs, and check our stats? If my Cingular cell phone sends me a MySpace alert and I’m not there to get it, do I exist? But email, IMs, social networking, and blogs are nothing compared to the thing that may finally cause time as we know it to cease. I’m talking, of course, about Twitter.

The future of Twitter

It’s made the Wall Street Journal. It’s hit the mainstream. It’s the number 1 search on Technorati today.

Twitter on Technorati

The volume of posts in last week has at least quadrupled.

Twitter Posts on technorati

What this means, I don’t know. Does anyone yet? Somewhere there has to be monetisation, running this type of service with this type of growth needs some revenue from somewhere. Showing it to colleagues today there was confusion about why, questions asked about what it can be used for, could it be used for advertising, would the most subscribed start monetising their stream of tweets – so instead of Pay per Post you get Pay per Tweet, micropayments. (A step I definitely don’t agree with). But could it be used the other way, as part of the attention economy. Put out what you are after and let the advertisers find you? Whatever is in the future, the immediate problem is scaling; the system is flaky at times and has been down a few times today. But this could be seen as a good problem?

Keep an eye on the Twitter blog for more information, plus links to more opinions about the service. Or try the (unofficial) wiki. One thing that does appear to be on it’s way is grouping of contacts; not sure whether that means on the sender or the receiver end yet, just have to wait and see.