Category Archives: Twitter

…And They Asked 4 Followers, And They Asked 4 Followers

Something I wrote on Twitter a couple weeks ago:

“…2 questions: a) What if there was an open source, more effective alternative to Google search? b) What if Twitter is that alternative?”

Today, Four Reasons Why Twitter is the Next Google writes:

“Not only has Twitter inadvertently taken crowdsourcing to search, it has actually taken it a step further into friendsourcing. In fact, it has created the first personalized and trusted search engine in the world.” – Mr. List

The interesting bit is that Twitter doesn’t even offer ‘search’. Search engines like Summize (how I tracked down my above tweet) et. al, are building search atop Twitters API.

Steve Gillmor was absolutely right to cut off Dan Farber. Pasting text ads (a la Google) onto Twitter is boring. That’s why we haven’t seen it. And won’t.

As more vendors like H&R Block, Joyent, and even Comcast start to invest themselves in Twitter, we get much much closer to a VRM world. A world where both customers and vendors are smart people speaking intelligently to each other.

What Andrew Baron Should Be Selling: Following

There’s lots of chatter today about Andrew Baron auctioning off his 1500 Twitter followers.

As of this writing, the auction is just over $500.

Standard ad-based media play: aggregate eyeballs and sell them off to the highest bidder.

Yummmm. Eyeballs.

“This stunt may spark some copycatters, but it is essentially meaningless.” – Stowe Boyd

I suspect I’m not the only one that unfollowed prior to the outcome, not because of the auction specifically, I just didn’t enjoy his messages and this development was a fine enough reason to dump him. :p

That’s what made me think Andrew is selling the wrong asset. He can only sell his followers once. What he should be doing is auctioning off his ‘following’, the people he’s paying attention to.

“Will the new Andrew Baron, unlike the old one, follow me?” – Stephen Baker, Business Week

Andrew is the advertisement anyway.

This has a couple benefits for Andrew that his current stunt doesn’t:

  1. It’s an ongoing revenue stream. If someone wants Andrew to pay attention to them, this makes it real easy, pay him.
  2. It puts a dollar figure on attention. I suspect Steve Gillmor would love that
  3. It reduces Andrew’s information overload.


“There’s nothing wrong with stunt income, but it can only work once at best.” – Ewan Spence

“Don’t care, don’t believe it proves anything one way or the other except this: It proves the shallowness of at least a few folks who actually care to waste $1500+ dollars on something that means exactly nothing.” – Karoli

And to lighten things up a bit:

…I also participate in another telephone number over on my cell phone so I’m thinking I’ll start taking more calls over there and start up a new phone to do what I want to do next…. – Alexander Muse

TwitterCooler v0.2 – Make Twitter More Like Office Chatter

(formerly TweetSpeak, changed as to eliminate confusion with

While I’m fond of the Twitter-as-water-cooler metaphor, there was something missing.

Namely Twitter is quiet, and offices are filled with loud, distracting chatter.

If you’re on a Mac you can now remedy this issue with

TwitterCooler downloads your friends tweets and reads them to you using the Mac’s built-in voices (selected at random).

Hey it’s Friday, you weren’t planning to get anything done anyway. :)

Ask Not What Twitter Can Do For You

After playing around with Twitter for nearly a year, I’ve come to an understanding with it.

The less Twitter does, the better.

In reviewing Jeremiah Owyang’s Twitter Wish List, I only agree with #2, a white-labeled Twitter for workgroup/company use. If Twitter doesn’t want that market, that’s cool. I know of at least 1 company that does.

The rest feel like they’ll turn Twitter into something it isn’t;

  • Supporting non-private groups is an easy hack – create a ‘fake user’, have everyone in the group direct messages via the ‘@’. (Twitter isn’t Jaiku)
  • ‘filtering’ for ‘fake users’. What does that even mean? (Twitter isn’t YFly)
  • Weather? – my tweople are great at giving the weather and traffic conditions already. They’re also great at pointing me to stuff to buy, things to do, and places to go. All without a formal structure for doing so. (Twitter isn’t Facebook)
  • Threaded replies implies rigidly staying on topic. Something that isn’t guaranteed in the messaging systems that have threading today (Twitter isn’t email or forums)

I’m a little surprised not to see ‘remove 140 character limit’ on the list. :p

My Twitter Wish list:

  1. Improved stability and API.
  2. Block search bots (Google, etc) from indexing.
  3. Become invisible.

In addition to that, there’s plenty of work to be done that keeps Twitter.

For example, I wanted a Twitter client that auto-expanded shortened urls and did something smart with the resulting file, so I baked it into

Here’s an example:

If We Can't Share Nothing








How many times have you had that conversation?


Banality in less than 140 characters is the foundation of our social interaction. It safely builds the trust required for a longer, more engaging exchange.

If we can’t share the meaningless, what can we share?

“Part of the power of Twitter is that, among all of these social tools we use to communicate on the Web, this is the one that truly feels social…I truly feel as though I’ve established some sense of a relationship with certain people.” – Mike Keliher

Then Mike says nice things about me. Twitter-hug.

What's He Building in There?

Doing some testing today and I felt bad for not posting anything in nearly a week.

I’ve been building. Steady. Til midnight or 2am for the past week.

And it’s coming together real nicely, so I’m trying to keep up the momentum up through this coming week.

Until I get back to a more frequent posting schedule…

Here’s the raw audio from an hour-long phone conversation I had with a Stanford Grad student. She’s conducting a study on how people use things like Twitter, Flickr, and the like.

Garrick-on-Twitter-2007.mp3 [59 minutes]

I’m sure Ingrid’s tracking this conversation, so give her a hand and leave a comment on how you use those apps in your daily life.


“Twitter-mates are the same as workmates everywhere.” – Gary Burge

Twitter Ends Friendship

In a move that should rock the ‘social network space’, Twitter just removed the vague, confusing, juvenile label of ‘friend‘, replacing it with the more descriptive ‘following1.

Aside from the label being more accurate 2 it creates a nice symmetry with ‘followers‘. You and I could say ‘friend‘ is the overlap between the two, but as Biz states, it’s not for a server to define.

“After careful consideration and user testing, we are no longer going to define people as your ‘friends.’ – Biz

The /following and /followers listing is also nicely cleaned up. Insted of the confusing ‘add‘ and ‘follow‘ links, ‘follow‘ is only offered for the people that you’re not (but are you). Within /follows a radio button specifies if you’ll get ‘notifications3.

Now, if we could finally kill off ‘user‘.

1. As of this writing, the URLs have yet to update.
2. Only ‘stalking‘ would be more accurate.
3 Still not a great label, I say ‘stalking‘ is appropriate here.

Robert Scoble outlines how to be his “friend” (Hint: live in Facebook) that’s after this childish outburst:

“He didn’t add me as a friend to his Facebook network…..they wouldn’t get access to my walled garden.”

Oh no, do you mean to say your feelings toward someone else aren’t reciprocal? Welcome to being an adult.

Steve Rubel laments the changing definition of “friend”.

The current usage of ‘friend’ in these ‘social networks’ is simplistic, heavy-handed, and juvenile. Even in IRL, relationships are more nuanced and asymmetrical (e.g. “fuck buddy”, “stalker”, “BFF”) – if these networks want to be relevant in a decade, they need to reflect the actual relationships. But then, most adults don’t need training wheels on their bikes or chaperones when they go out.

Twittergrams: Guarding the Rhino

(photo CNN)

In Swahili the tick bird is named ‘askari wa kifaru,’ meaning ‘the rhino’s guard.’ The bird eats ticks it finds on the rhino and noisily warns of danger. Although the birds also eat blood from sores on the rhino’s skin and thus obstruct healing, they are still tolerated.

Take a look at what you need to pass to post a Twittergram; Twitter name, Twitter pass. Everything else, non-Twitter-specific and posting to your Twitter account is optional.

Imagine for a moment; Jaikugrams, Basecampgrams, Flickrgrams, Plazesgrams, Linkedingrams, and AnyServiceWithAnAPI-gram. The same exact Twittergram functionality riding atop each respective service 1.

Little birds flitting from rhino to rhino. has the same core functionality as another, much larger project I’m working on. Plus, I don’t need to write a login/pass registration system. In fact, that’s the rule w/ Ququoo development. It can’t have anything specific to Ququoo in it 2. Jen reminded me today of that. Her reminder has helped focus my Twittergram work – and dust off something this larger project needs desperately.

1. Number 3 if you’re following along.
2. Eric, maybe that’s the rule w/ Twitter as well ;)

5 July 07 Update: Yes, I think Twittergrams can be any kind of file and be larger than 200k. Maybe not with Dave’s service. But once you and programmatically decode a tinyurl you’ve got the idea.

8 July 07 Update: Feels like this accomplishes the same goal as OpenID…from a different angle. Where new sites ride atop older more established sites’ accounts – this solves 2 problems for new sites; needing to develop an account creation system and getting people to use the service. Scaling means supporting one more pre-existing account system.

I'm hesitant to build too much on top of…

I’m hesitant to build too much on top of Twitter. Not just because of their historic instability, but because they’re a single silo – and each day brings a yet another silo.

With, I’m relying on Twitter for registration. With the Twittergram work I’m doing, it’s that and a little bit more. Unlike Facebook, I don’t need permission to build these apps (a good thing), but with Twitter’s slower dev cycles, unreliable-ness, and not charging for anything (charging for something please! dev keys, anything!) I hesitate committing to much.

Today, to a great degree, the people that follow me, are following me on Twitter. 10 minutes from now, that may or not be the case. This post will be repub’d on Twitter, just as it is at Jaiku and Hictu, and in your own aggregator.

Just a reminder to work on projects that can easily go where the followers are rather than silo-specific projects.

TwitterGram – Front-end Napkin Sketch


Like, I see Twittergram front-ends existing on-top-of, but for all intents and purposes independent from proper – using Twitter’s infrastructure for authentication, messaging, but otherwise very distinctive from Twitter as it has stabilized. The above sketch is heavily inspired by Twitterific, which is an OK fit. Something is still missing from it though.

I’ve got a couple *cast domain names that have been waiting for something like this. :)

28 Jun 07 Update: This is idea coming along. The mechanics of about 50% of the sketch’s functionality are in place. The next 50 is where it gets interesting.

30 Jun 07 Update: Started building out the interface. Not happy with how it coming along. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Dave just did something I've been thinki…

Dave just did something I’ve been thinking on and off about for a while now: Twitter meets podcasting. Behold – the promise of podcasting as voicemail….of _actually_ having a conversation via the ‘space phone’. I think I’ll dust off the FastCast idea after dinner tonight.

So the FastCast workflow tweaked for Twittering:
Record via Audio Hijack Pro -> HijackingWP script uploads to WordPress -> TwitterTools pushes Title and mp3 URL (not permalink) to Twitter.

Hmmm…HijackingWP could ping Twitter as well….more to come.

30 Jun 2007 Update:
Now, I’ve got an idea on how to work video into the mix. Not that video of any length could be under 200k, so there’s some work to do there. :) Twitter Timesheet Looking For Beta-Friends, my first Rails app is finally up and at a place where I’m happy with it.

Ququoo turns Twitter into a timesheet – by grouping your tweets and measuring the time between them.

As with any web app that was launched moments ago, there’s probably a few more things to tidy up and sort out. That said, Ququoo is looking for some beta-friends. If you’re interested and have a Twitter account; add ququoo

Elsewhere, Ed Kohler wonders if something like can find an audience:

“I’m sure there are plenty of Twitter users who bill or their time on a consulting basis who would love to be able to Tweet their billable hours.” – Ed Kohler

Short Message Silo


Jaiku’s growth strategy is getting Twitter’s overflow. But only if you look at it from a winner-take-all, one-silo-for-everyone, perspective.

Look at email. I like Apple’s Lots of other people like Gmail. I still know people that swear by Eudora. Despite the different applications, we all still get the messages from each other. The short message space is exactly the same.

Yeah, I’ve got an account at both Jaiku and Twitter, and this morning I signed up at ShoutAt [screencast].

In the same way I don’t know which email client people write their email in (yet, we still have community and friendship), Twitter and Jaiku and MySpace and Last.FM and LinkedIn silos need to melt away.

Then they’ll actually be useful. Not just today’s overbooked, over-hyped hang-out.

To the rescue: Thanks for the pointer Harold.

Follow My iTunes via Twitter

Thanks to Doug Adams’ script, Current Track to Twitter v1.5, if you follow me via Twitter you’ll get continual updates on what I’m listening to.

I’m digging Twitter as way to automatically publish in the background. I can keep my flow and we can stay connected.

I see this quality that’ll keep Twitter from being Pet Rock 2.0. If more and more people can ‘tweet’ without thinking about it (via the API, not the browser) Twitter fades into the background, like the internet itself.

QSPress – Quicksilver and WordPress Make Me Twitter

I’m with Aaron, I don’t quite get Twitter. If you want to know what’s on my mind…read this blog. What I do get about is really, really fast publishing. The faster, the better.

So, I cooked up a little script (11 lines) to post directly to this blog from Quicksilver. If you’ve got a WordPress blog, or blog that understands the MetaWeblogAPI (though, I’ve only tested it on WP).

So, if you want to twitter on your own blog…download QSPress.

The posts look something like this and hey, no character limits. ;)

More on the QSPress page

Eric, I say this script is proof XML-RPC isn’t dead.

Last time I checked, Flickr’s ‘blog this’ was XML-RPC. Copy-and-Paste and XML-RPC are two different things. C-and-P exists because video needs at least one ‘embed’ tag and well, that’s hard. Add to that, XML-RPC needs an end-point url and a password, that’s a level of complexity above – ‘here take this code’. They serve two different functions – though the final product looks similar.

Note to Self: Stop Using Eric Rice's Brain

Listening to the Joyeur podcast on Twitter, I made a note to look into fictional Twitter accounts.

Then I see this post by Eric Rice:

“By setting up a character-driven, fictional Twitter account, not only can I do a sultry little dance on the fine line of ARGs (alternate reality gaming), but that 140 character limit is the BEST thing to ever happen to the creative process.”

The time between when I wrote this and he hit publish: ~30 minutes.