All Twitter clients are worthless

That was my thought today as I was looking at the wonderfully developed, yet totally worthless, TweetDeck. Tweetdeck is so far my favorite, despite playing with Seesmic Desktop, and sobees bDule.

It seems like everyone has their own Twitter client: there are Excel clients, shell script clients, Perl clients, and many online Twitter interfaces.

What do I want?

  • If I use a new client, I better be able to import my Tweetdeck groups. I've never latched on to any other clients because of this barrier.
  • I don't really want a limit on groups.
  • For every new person I follow, I should be able to have the opportunity to add them to one or more groups as a new follow.
  • I want to thread conversations and/or people's updates.
  • I want a "show less" of this person update.
  • I would be thrilled if it would work on my mobile phone.

The democratization of the news #cnnfail #IranElection

Social Media, especially Twitter, is so much faster than the traditional media channels at spreading the word about hot topics. I've been following @BreakingNews since they used @BreakingNewsOn, and found that I heard about news 1-2 hours before the "breaking news" placeholder showed up on major news sites.

It looks like CNN has demonstrated this point.

ReadWriteWeb posted an article last night @ 11:46 pm: Dear CNN, Please Check Twitter for News About Iran. This morning, it's still a "developing story" on CNN.

At the same time, it looks like CNN is fanning the flames of the protests by posting the "football match" quote as a headline. That does ring like a member of the Iran state media.

Bureaucracy may be good for government. A hierarchical structure may be good for large corporations. However, I would imagine the editorial chain of command prevented timely reporting. Maybe there was too much thought given to being "politically sensitive" to Iran. Either that, or CNN is just *that* unaware of what's going on in the world.

Social media is an enabler for the freedom of speech and of the press. It seems that by contrast, the analysis paralysis of a large news organization is a barrier.

Also: '#CNNFail': Twitterverse slams network's Iran absence | Webware - CNET.

Updated: CNN was outscooped by 9 1/2 hours.

@BreakingNews tweet @ 9:44PM on Jun 12th:

IRAN VOTES -- Iranian president Ahmadinejad wins the presidential election, the official results show

@CNNBrk (CNN Breaking News) tweet @ 7:16 AM on Jun 13th:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won country's election with 62 percent of vote, government says.

The rampant dismissing of social media

(This was inspired by Jason Fall's post on the Sustainability of Social Media)

What's lost in the dismissing of social media as a fad is the fact that social media is simply an extension, through technology, of what has been around for ages. Determined people have always found a way to connect with others with similar challenges or interests. How long have networking groups and professional societies been around? What about Alcoholics Anonymous or other support groups? The geeks among us have been discussing things on BBS discussion boards pretty much since the modem was invented. On the web, those discussion boards made their way to hobby sites and company sites via phpBB and uBB.

What has changed? Two things:

Technology has drastically lower the barrier to entry for joining one of these groups. You no longer have to configure the modem with the right ATDT string, or walk as a green-faced introvert into a room of people who already know each other. "Following" someone or "friending" someone is so much easier, and less painful. (Even the pain of rejection is significantly lower.)

Secondly, social media has pulled connection groups out of a taxonomic hierarchy and into folksonomy.

Wha?

Think Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress system for cataloguing information. Some "higher authority" decided how information should be organized--a taxonomy. By contrast, everyone's favorite pages on their personal web pages and blogs define the keywords that feed into the page ranking algorithm on Google. Ordinary people create the classification system, and if nothing currently fits, they create another classification system--that's more or less a "folksonomy".

Back to social media. What happens if no one is talking about your favorite topic? You create your own (possibly duplicate) group on Facebook, your own hashtag on Twitter, your own blog, or your own discussion board. Our associations no longer belong to the bureaucracy of "significance". If one person is interested, it's significant. You can now associate yourself with all fans of "Nuts the Squirrel" if you want to.
 

So much for "25 random things" going away

For the curmudgeons among us, there's bad news: 25 Random Things Meme Is a Boon for Facebook - ReadWriteWeb.  One commenter put it bluntly:  "I love how when you put a CHAIN LETTER on Facebook it becomes a MEME."  The 25 random things meme on Facebook has also a blogging and news media meme in response.

There's even a #25things hashtag going on twitter, and while the Facebook 25 things meme may actually be "25 things that you might be interested in knowing about me," the Twitter version ends up being more like "25 bits of TMI from relative strangers."

TwitterThreads.com - what I've been looking for. Almost.


I just searched on "twitter" and "threads" in google. What I found was TwitterThreads.com. Simple, huh?

It's not 100% what I had envisioned: My vision was probably something more like expandable threading by author sorted by date of most recent update. The TwitterThreads version looks like it shows all posts that you'd normally see if you were following someone, but limited to a single day's posts.

This is pretty much what I wanted to build, with a few additional features... Other things I thought of were [+]/[-] Expand/Collapse functionality, an option to configure the number of days shown, and read/unread functionality of some sort.

There is also a mobile TwitterThreads site. On my ancient Treo 650, this is a beautifully elegant and simple interface. It may become my new twitter interface on my phone.

Something both interfaces are missing are direct links to "reply-to" and "favorite" individual tweets. I was also a little disappointed that the timestamp link on each tweet went to the person's home instead of direct linking to the tweet on Twitter. This makes the lack of reply-to and favorite functionality more of an issue for me. If the timestamp had linked to the individual tweet, I could reply-to or favorite through the Twitter web interface.

Overall, I am still thrilled to see that someone has implemented this idea. Like any programmer geek, I would have liked to be the first, but I wouldn't really have made the time to throw something like this together.

Finding distances between two zip codes in PHP

I found this script to calculate distances between two zip codes from PHP (requires MySQL). According to this Idealog post, the calculation relies on a text file of Zip code lon/lats from CFDynamics, available on the downloads page.

I have yet to try it; however, I have a specific implementation that I was needing it for. Does anyone else have a better way to align searcher's proximity to location-based data? I'd like to classify by city, but I'm sure that is a lot more of a gray area than allowing the searcher to specify a specific radius in which to search or letting the resource specify maximum distance to travel.

Added 2008.11.30:
I love Twitter. A few hours after posting this, I received a suggestion that I could get longitude/latitude from Google Maps.

On code.google.com, I found the following question: I need to convert addresses to latitude/longitude pairs. Can I do that with the Maps API?

Yes, this process is called "geocoding." The Google Maps API provides two methods for performing geocoding. If you wish to geocode from within your Google Maps API application you can do so using the GClientGeocoder object. Alternatively you can send geocoding requests directly to the HTTP geocoder.

I suspect that the delicious bookmark plug-in for Firefox 3 is not keeping me logged for two weeks.

Not only that, but whenever I'm required to log-in to bookmark a page, the plug-in does not continue on to actually creating the bookmark.

This morning I was forced to log in. I believe the loss of information is coinciding with Firefox updates. Anyone else have this experience?

Home PC:
2008.11.15, 9:15 AM
2008.11.29, 2:29 PM
2008.12.14. 6:16 PM

Work PC:
2008.11.26, 10:01 AM
2008.12.11, 5:08 PM

Updated 2008.11.29: So far, no glitches. However, I still dislike the fact that the log-in prompt prevents tagging and you have to have to select the tag icon again after logging in.

Updated 2008.12.11: Looks like everything's fine, just that I'm overly sensitive to having to login.

Reading List by Amazon

It looks like LinkedIn has found a way to make itself relevant for day-to-day use... The Amazon Readling List provides a way for you to post what you're currently reading, want to read, or have read. You can also see the contents of other people's reading lists--in your network, in your industry, or all recent updates. Your reading list will automatically appear on your LinkedIn Home and Profile pages.

So far, I only have one book listed. I'll probably start adding to this reading list from my Safari bookshelf list, and all the various other lists that I've been compiling over the last couple of years.

You can get to my LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/twilliampowell

Reading List Application full view:

On your LinkedIn Home:

On your LinkedIn Profile:

Adding from featured applications page.

Remember the Milk is on Twitter!

This may be old news to many RTM/Twitter users, but it was a pleasant surprise to me today.

As I was perusing the Remember the Milk keyboard shortcuts, I noticed that at the bottom, under "Services", Twitter was listed. So I clicked on the link, and the "Services / Remember the Milk for Twitter page" came up, where I could enter my Twitter id. I was presented with a verification code for the next step.

From there, I typed "follow rtm" and then "d rtm [verification code]".

Now that all that is set up, I can interact with Twitter through direct msg:

"d rtm pick up the milk"

"d rtm call jimmy at 5pm tomorrow"

"d rtm !complete call jimmy"

All the instructions and some command examples are at: http://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/twitter/

Of course, I'm still learning how to even use the RTM Date Formats.

Added:
Of course, since I can txt updates to Twitter (40404), I can add tasks for today by texting
"d rtm pick up the milk today"

I don't need a laptop or notepad to record my "action items" anymore. This is awesome.

Added 8/23:
Thanks to @louisvilllesoup, I looked into sending tasks from e-mail to RTM inbox as well... this is a pretty robust feature set.

A much simpler setup is importing a list via e-mail, which enables adding a list in bulk to a specific list (e.g., personal) by specifying the list in the subject line and list items on individual lines in the message body. A downside to this method is that signature lines and legal disclaimers get added (per line) to your to do list. I'll need to research if there is a way around this.