Scripting News for 6/25/2007

Web service docs 

The TwitterGram web service is up and running.

Documentation with sample code is up too.

Questions, comments are welcome, as are client apps. :-)

Lots of stuff remains to be done. A web browser user interface, RSS feed, press tour.

Paulo Fierro has a Twit O’Gram player.

TwitterGrams, Day 3 

Tom Simonite at New Scientist has mixed feelings about TwitterGrams.

Here’s an example use-case. You’re driving in your car and thinking of your dog at home, alone, missing you (and you missing your bud too of course). So you pick up the cell phone, speed dial the TwitterGram voice service (it doesn’t exist yet) and say some reassuring words to your pal.

Now at home you have a special PuppyGram client running on your MacMini or AppleTV or somesuch. Your picture comes on the screen, and the computer barks three or four times to get the attention of your best friend. And then your little message comes on screen.

Okay, that’s a trivial example, but Twitter is all about trivial examples. It’s the stuff of no importance whatsoever that make us feel nice about being human.

In any case I’m having a blast writing the web service. it’s almost ready to deploy.

PS: Almost every domain with the word “cast” is taken. We have podcasting to thank for that. :-)

PPS: Yesterday there were 29 hits on Google for TwitterGram. At noon today there are 406.

Am I competing? 

Yes and no.

I had a philosophical talk about this last week with Marc Canter. For a long time, he and Doc Searls had been saying publicly that I ought to do something to help unify the identity space. Mike Graves, formerly of VeriSign, was saying similar things. I always wondered what they meant. Did they know how I would do it, if I would try to do it?

Last week I spelled it out for Marc. If I try to coalesce some kind of standard the only way to do it is by competing. Writing a spec and asking nicely if everyone would implement it gets you nowhere. The only way to get something to stick is to put up a compelling app, and let the market drive a standard. Tech people don’t play nice unless the market forces them to.

That’s how it worked with RSS. There was a period of a few years when my software and content dominated, and that’s how RSS came to be the powerhouse it is. I had the three sides of the puzzle needed to drive a standard. 1. A tool that generates the content. 2. A tool that consumes the content (two horrible words, but what are you going to do) and 3. Content.

1. and 2. were Radio UserLand. It was a blogging tool that generated RSS 0.92 and then RSS 2.0, and an aggregator that consumed these formats (and all others of course). Following the logic of Postel’s Law, we were conservative in what we send, and liberal in what we receive. And #3 was at first Scripting News, and then the content flow of our very powerful partner, The New York Times. 1, 2 and 3, that’s all it took. In other words, everything. :-)

So if TwitterGrams take off, and I think they might, I’m going to have to put some software in the middle of it. A new branch to the coral reef that Twitter is. And then people can build compatible front ends, and compatible back ends, and everybody will be happy. Hopefully when the dust settles, if there is something to this, I’ll be left with something of value to reward me for the risk and effort (and the years of barking up fruitless trees and chasing down blind aleys, and convincing people they should listen to me). But, as I have found out many times, there are no guarantees if you choose to work openly, which I do.

BTW, hats off to the folks at Twitter for having the guts to work openly themselves. Without their very courageous and liberal API I would never attempt such a project.

Anyway, if you have a service that could be turned into the PuppyGram service described above, go for it. I may do one myself, I do have a desktop client I like to work in, but there’s room for so many, in so many different environments. Think about all the places RSS reaches and that’ll give you some idea how diverse this kind of market can be.

Between Mike and Charles 

Charles Cooper says “the blogosphere” needs to get real about the line between church and state.

My response: The tech blogosphere was invented because of the sloppy church-state line at CNet and other professional pubs. They’re the last people who get to preach this particular gospel.

Inside the tech industry, we all know what’s going on there. In private, no one is confused. They always take the side of big companies over small ones, even when it’s ridiculous to do so. The reason — big companies advertise, they pay their salaries. And the little ones are too little to make a difference. Even if their products are standard-setters. Do they look out for their readers or their bottom lines? Of course, they throw the readers under the bus (a metaphor that should be thrown under the bus, btw).

Further, there is no such thing as “the blogosphere” and there’s no way for the lines to be anything other than what they are. Of course, individual bloggers can do something about it. And of course we all know who Cooper is talking about, Mike Arrington.

Now this is going to blow Mike away — I’m going to defend him. Not because he’s my friend, even though he is, but because he’s doing a bunch of things right, and before everyone goes too far, let’s understand what that is.

Mike doesn’t tell bedtime stories, or mask his position behind vague words. He comes right out with it, and tells you he’s pissed off, or to pound sand, or worse. Sometimes I can’t believe the things he says, but at least he’s not dancing around it, like some other people do. (More on that in a bit.)

Mike gets stories that CNet doesn’t get, that no one else gets. Look at the piece he did on Mitch Kapor’s product earlier today. Compare that against the nonsense that passes for tech news done by the pros. They put reporters on the stories who have no idea what they’re writing about, and you can tell. Or old school guys who only quote their friends, and haven’t found a new trend or product in years. All they know is that Apple, Google and Microsoft are important and that little companies are not. So it’s a long time before a CNet hack gets to tell Mike how to do his job, even if he does act as a mouthpiece for a crappy Microsoft campaign (I wish he wouldn’t do that).

On the other hand, Mike says he values loyalty above all else, but he turns his back on his friends far too often, and doesn’t call some people on their hypocrisy when he really should. If he’s really a gunslinger, he needs to take it out of the holster a little more frequently, and aim it at some people who aren’t such easy targets. I want the doors to open wide, and the self-dealing in-breeding to stop. It’s making it really hard to make progress. Too hard.

The fact is that it’s a fucked up little industry, and everyone needs to clean house. There are some pockets of brightness, and we need to help those shine, and we also need to shine the light on the dirty practices that pay your bills, but hurt everyone else. That’s creeping into what we used to call the blogosphere, and that’s the scary thing. It’s not that Mike needs to become more like CNet, it’s that Mike is becoming too much like CNet.

Charles, Mike, back to you.

67 responses to this post.

  1. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m all about sending a Twittergram to the dogs. And to Dave to remind him to feed the dogs.

    Trivial? Perhaps. But my dogs are going to love it. And I promise they’ll thank you!

    Reply

  2. its a good idea. i’d like to add it to the desktop p2p app i’m building.

    Reply

  3. oh course, i’ve never used twiter; but, dave…(like i’m HAL now) dave….start your own company and go for it…

    give me the api and from the desktop will crush ‘em :)

    sorry, coding like a madman #2

    Reply

  4. I see you already had the idea somewhere in March…

    Reply

  5. Hi Dave, I’m not sure why but I really, really like this idea :)

    I whipped up a quick player (basically just extracts URLs to MP3s from the twitogram user’s RSS feed from Twitter): http://twitogram.paulofierro.com/

    And put together some ideas for making a Flash client that uses the XML-RPC service itself: http://www.paulofierro.com/archives/478/

    Reply

  6. Posted by Joe Latone on June 25, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Hey, Dave, I’ve been dreaming about a Twitter Browser for some time now, i.e., add a simple content-type to SMS messages along with a simple SMS browser that can interpret the content on the phone. I’ve been dreaming about it so much…I built it.

    Reply

  7. Posted by rob rowntree on June 25, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    don’t understand why u have to in-line the base 64 encoded bin file..
    if 100 diff users all want to process “stairway to heaven” why would every single one of those requests want to replicate the unchanged bin version of an object ( the mp3 of the song ). The song should live at a link with a MIME type that the embedded twitter player recognizes…. Then you provide only the link and not another 200K of data to the api.

    Reply

  8. On Identity:

    why not leave the identity to the big guys..google/amazon/facebook/ebay/msn/whatever? Or peepagg/unix/windows, etc .Isnt what we need the social network API? Ie (a) what are the groups, no matter where your user identity token comes from (b) what are roles within the group for a context. ie in the context of ‘forum’ user bla@gmail.com is admin. Ofcourse one needs to decide what one (i) means by identity here and login (ii) possibly provide a login mechanism once identity is established (iii) provide aan email based machanism to associate multiple identities?

    At some level facebook in asking for your passwords for multiple accounts does this, but i always felt that was intrusive.

    Reply

  9. First, it’s nice to see someone say the blogosphere doesn’t exist. Just like “the media” doesn’t exist. Both are handy rhetorical shorthand to get at decisions by a zillion different actors.

    Second, the issue of ad revenue versus editorial integrity is obviously not new. So, why should we expect it not to play out among big-time commercial bloggers? What’s so different about those publishers that they have a right to expect things to work differently for them? The answer: nothing.

    Once you publish ads — in any medium — you cross a fundamental line. You are giving your readers a reason to not believe you. You are asking your readers to trust that you do not slant your product to boost your ad revenue. Having a policy about this and disclosing it helps. But, in the end, you are still dependent on the willingness of your readers to trust in your faithfulness to that policy.

    (I remember when PC Mag used to do an annual printer review issue. It was huge, more than 400 pages, thanks to the influx of ads. It wasn’t uncommon for a full page ad for a given printer to appear adjacent to or overleaf from a review extollng the wonders of that printer. Maybe PC Mag maintained its virtue and those placements were completely innocent. Maybe not. But I trusted it less.)

    Reply

  10. Here’s an AppleScript I whipped up to send Twittergrams via AudioHijackPro.

    Reply

  11. Cool. I will be looking into this twittergram system. It’s not that far removed from my system at http://modbods.com which will also handle the audio conversion from anything to mp3. This helps cover all the bizarre audio recording codecs used by mobile devices – and get them on to my devices to share. (no reason why we should use ogg either)

    Once a file is uploaded to mobods, it then asks if you want to post it, also if you want to crosspost it to your blog, send the file on to flickr, etc.

    It also asks if you want to tweet the post too, so I guess the outcome is very much the same.

    I can see some very cool ways how these can work together, also bearing in mind your systems abilty to utilise S3, which I have yet to try out fully. (How’s the costs of that working out btw? How does it compare?)

    Stay tuned for some KozTesting…

    cheers dave!

    Reply

  12. re: ogg – that should say should*nt btw ;)

    Also just to add quickly, this also works with video clips. So, how about possibly an extra strut of metadata to define the mime-type of the gram?

    Reply

  13. in fact, I would actually go as far to say , why not change ‘mp3bits’ for ‘mediaBits’ (or something) and add another parameter for mime-type?

    Or should we accept the remote system can figure all that out? I suppose so.. hm

    But I certainly think you should (at this early stage) reduce the inferred assertion that a file has to be audio mp3.

    Just a thought :).

    Reply

  14. Building on kosso, by abstracting from mp3 just a tad you buy the future not just for other audio formats (perhaps the highly compressed AAC) but also for non-audio media, like video or animation.

    Reply

  15. I don’t agree, but let’s not have a debate about it — go your own path, build what you want to build. I think I know how to do this. But I might be wrong.

    Reply

  16. Dave. That’s fine. But I really think you’re limiting what this great of yours *could* be by restricting to ‘mp3′bits

    I’m not having a debate, i was just sharing my ideas with you, with a hope you might also think it’s a good idea too.

    If you don’t that’s fine by us :)

    I just think you’ll widen it up to all social media types, ie: images, audio and video by calling them mediabits rathr than mp3bits

    This will also widen the pool of developers who’ll want to embrace the concept – imho.

    ciao

    Reply

  17. What I’m really waiting for is an aggregator. Listening to a River of Twitter on my phone.

    Reply

  18. I uploaded a short mp3 file and posted a notice to twitter
    (permalink: http://twitter.com/evanwolf/statuses/121906622 )

    Is there a restful way of pinging the twittergram service?

    Reply

  19. Hmmm … now I’d like to “direct” twitter a message to someone.

    Reply

  20. Could you make a video showing how this works please?

    Thanks.

    Reply

  21. how about a J2ME client that records the twittergram right on your phone and posts it to the twittergram rpc service?

    Reply

  22. Posted by subnet on June 27, 2007 at 9:47 am

    I just tried out TwitterGram but, unfortunately, got a error message: “The TwitterGram web service reports an error: “Can’t read stream because TCP/IP error code 10060 – Connection timed out.”

    my mp3 is

    Reply

  23. Works great! http://twitter.com/Croaky/statuses/123367152

    One potential improvement? Convert the mps.twittergram URL to a tinyurl to buy yourself more characters to use for the title.

    Love the direction you’re going here.

    Reply

  24. TwitterGram is very interesting!

    I’ve already commented about this yesterday but I guess on the wrong page because this seems to be the official one about TwitterGram!

    I was thinking about the mobility factor and about the important role that it plays nowadays. For instance, interacting with TwitterGram directly from our mobile phones would be very handy.

    And what about some kind of http://m.twittergram.com?!

    TwitterGram has a lot of potential.

    Andrea

    Reply

  25. Posted by subnet on June 27, 2007 at 10:46 am

    oh, on the second try everything worked fine! :)

    Reply

  26. Hi there, service truncated my twitter on an icelandic character ó and the rest was lost (url too).

    Brilliant idea btw, many parts, loosely joined.

    -Addi

    Reply

  27. Posted by James Robertson on June 27, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Please could someone add documentation on how to add a twittergram using php. I had a look at the XML-RPC sites, but I couldn’t seem to figure out how to put an example together.

    The priority at the moment for the twittergram development team is probably the Embedded Flash audio recorder with the web browser. Although I would prefer to use the twittergram API to allow my scripts to send requests from mp3′s on my phone or from my Gmail account.

    Reply

  28. Maybe it’s a feature and not a bug but, when I first tried to post a TwitterGram, I used an M4A file and it went ahead and posted to both accounts.

    Reply

  29. Queco, it’s a bug. I should check the content-type of teh stuff that passes through the web service and reject anything that’s not an MP3.

    Reply

  30. Aloha Dave, I posted a small audio file, maybe TwitterGram’s theme song. It showed up in my iTunes podcast section almost instantaneously ;-)

    If anyone yells that the recording is copyrighted material, I know the folks at the label well and have their blessing to use Israel’s music in various ways like this.

    Reply

  31. It just occurred to me when this showed up in my Tweets that TwitterGrams could be an incredible promotion tool for musicians. Wow. tinyurl works great.

    Reply

  32. Posted by James Robertson on June 28, 2007 at 5:37 am

    It just occurred to me that if I say something on a twittergram that I later regret I’ve got no way of deleting it from the Twittergram mp3 file server or the TwitoGram feed.

    Reply

  33. I’ve put together some very basic PHP code to use XML-RPC for PHP to post to Twittergram. Hope this helps:

    http://www.richiecarey.com/index.php/2007/06/28/twittergram-and-xml-rpc-for-php/

    Reply

  34. Hi Dave!

    http://m.twittergram.com/ works fine! On new releases could be added also an “auto refresh”property!

    How does it sound?

    Andrea

    Reply

  35. Dave – Twittergram is fantastic and so is the addition of wav support but I’m having problems uploading wavs recorded on my Nokia N95. Anyone else having the same problem?
    Best,
    Nick

    Reply

  36. Posted by slapcast on June 29, 2007 at 7:39 am

    API – bug or feature?

    I’m testing slapcast.com integration with twittergram (more at blog.slapcast.com if you are curious) and noticed something interesting.

    If you include an URL in your metadata “title” element, it is this link that becomes clickable NOT the tinyurl URL that points to your actual mp3 file.

    this is an example:http://twitter.com/twitogram/statuses/126357892

    my workaround was to take the “http://” out of my title element in the metadata. Then you get the behavior I was looking for:http://twitter.com/twitogram/statuses/126369472

    This way the tinyurl link works.

    Reply

  37. Dave – The Mobile Twittergram worked on my TREO 650. I’m thinking how this could be used to deliver Breaking News Headlines for traditional media outlets.

    Reply

  38. Tim,

    Why limit things to ‘traditional’ media outlets?

    We’ve had tremendous luck with open source apps such as:

    http://twitter.com/LAFD

    …and the RSS Feeds from:

    http://lafd.org/alert

    ..and are eager to implement TwitterGram (and anything else Dave dreams up) in the interest of helping people lead safer, healthier and more productive lives.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

    Reply

  39. Dave,

    We have this working today.

    Call in at 646-716-6000 and record your twitter gram from any caller id that you have set up.

    Reply

  40. Just wanted to say thanks, Dave, and that I just posted my first TwitterGram along with a blog about you’re using BTR for the TG’s (http://blog.blogtalkradio.com/index.php/2007/07/03/using-blogtalkradio-to-send-twittergrams/).

    Really cool. Have a great Fourth and looking forward to seeing where this leads.

    Best,
    JCH
    VP, Biz Dev
    BlogTalkRadio.com

    Reply

  41. I’ve tried creating an account but get the message: Can’t save your phone-in info because the username and password don’t define a valid Twitter account.” I have entered and re-entered my info but it doesn’t want to accept it.

    It sounds like a great idea, though.

    Reply

  42. Just realized there might be a cool fit here with a technology called PodGlo my buddy Doug Kersten is working on. It allows all audio posts on a blog to be listened to in one continuous stream. (Thought of this because of Phil’s comment above, re: an aggregator). PodGlo is here: http://podglo.com/PodGlohome/, and you can try the app here: http://www.boatingpodcast.com/boatingpodcast/. Go to the top of the widget on the left and press play; you’ll hear everyone’s comments played in a row. Could be a fun fit for TG’s.

    Reply

  43. I guess I just need to wait a bit. It’s now working. Thanks so much for this fun addition to Twitter!

    Reply

  44. Argh, your code sure does not like me. After 8 attempts on 3 different browsers, I still get “Can’t save your phone-in info because the username and password don’t define a valid Twitter account.”

    which is BS as I have logged in and out of twitter 3 times in this stretch just to confirm my sanity. Cap locks are NOT on. I know my account details, but TwitterGram keps borking.

    Why cant I play with the cool kids?

    Reply

  45. Posted by Dan F. on July 3, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I can’t seem to get phoned-in TwitterGrams to work. Is there a specific format I need to use to enter my phone number on the sign-in page?

    Reply

  46. Posted by Dan F. on July 3, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Never mind. I mis-read the option at the bottom of the sign-in page. I thought unchecking the box would block my TwitterGrams from appearing on the public feed. It seems a little illogical to me that anyone would want their TwitterGrams to appear on the public feed, but not their personal one. I would prefer the opposite (personal only).

    Thanks a bunch for this service. I’ve been wanting something like this (and have tried to implement my own scheme) for a long time.

    Reply

  47. my phone info saved. Nice! I don’t know if my phone message is posted yet, but I’m confident it will arrive at twitter when servers sync up. Dave, kudos to you, this is a fantastic idea and brilliant use of Twitter! I can’t wait to see what the future brings us. we are so spoiled.

    Reply

  48. Posted by Mary on July 4, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    A twittergram showed up with my ID, but it was someone else’s voice. egads. I deleted it. It wasn’t mine. funny. I guess that was a fluke. I’ll try again. some wires got crossed or something.

    Reply

  49. Posted by Mary on July 4, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Dave, You may erase my last 2 entries.
    Hooray!!! It worked.
    You are a genius.
    give yourself a fireworks hug. this is neat.
    It’s my voice, this time.

    Reply

  50. any chance anyone got this working from a ppc mobile? tried opera and ie. after submit, just get taken back to logon page…

    Reply

  51. Heh. But that first post was from the ppc! Same submit button no doubt… So might not need much work…?

    Reply

  52. It’s totally not working for me. I just tried it after signing up with my cellphone number.

    I call, I leave a quick message, and nothing. It does not show up.

    Any ideas? (you have my email as part of this comment), but it’s xxdesmus @ Google’s email service.

    Reply

  53. you should say on the front page how my (approximately) 200k equals in seconds. After all, when we record, don’t the seconds tick by instead of the file size?

    Or is there an app out there that will record (or be set to record) up to a certain file size?

    Any apps for recording that you recommend? Mac/PC?

    Reply

  54. Posted by obizy on July 9, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Hi, Nice Service. Added TwitterGram to the twitter tool list at

    http://wtips.blogspot.com/2007/04/twitter-tools.html

    Reply

  55. Posted by Mitch on July 9, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    I just tried like a dozen times to register my phone and twitter account. It won’t work. It says account not found.

    http://www.twittergram.com/phone

    This service sounds damn excellent. I want to use it.

    Reply

  56. Been having a blast with TwitterGram all day. Had no problems hooking up the phone. Absolutely love that you only need to dial one number! Utilized a SpringWidget via Feedburner that works great to playback the .mp3 in any web page. Got the new feed into iTunes as a separate podcast as well. Looking forward to seeing if everything there hooks up alright.

    The Audio Hijack Pro script that Garrick created. Word flawlessly: http://garrickvanburen.com/projects/twittergramhijacking/

    I did notice that the Bloglines email for the feed turned up an error. Posted that in Twitter earlier. /PodGeneration/

    Can’t even imagine what this will mean when someone develops a facebook widget for TwitterGram.

    Dave, your a badass!

    Reply

  57. Posted by Brian Stovall on July 25, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Very cool idea, but I have a suggestion: you might want to replace the image of the postman on the page, or at least obfuscate the USPS logos. The Post Office is fairly strict about protecting their copyrights, and I’d hate to see you have to deal with that kind of trouble.

    Anyway, I’ve been reading your stuff for a very long time, and enjoyed most of it. Keep up the good work.

    b.

    Reply

  58. Arrg!!! Stop testing the freaking thing!! Guys! TwitterGram works just fine it doesn’t need anymore 1, 2, 1, 2!! Actually record something meaningful or shove your freaking cellphone where you know..!

    Wow! That feels so good!

    Reply

  59. Posted by James Robertson on August 5, 2007 at 4:26 am

    Would it be possible to use twittergram as a comments service for other websites? I have heard of such a service for text comments on blogs, but not for audible comments apart from mychingo.com.

    Reply

  60. I saw a couple of comments that I would like to second:

    1. Option for direct tweet support to others and to just me (notes to self will come in handy)
    2. Option for posting to public twittergrams vs. my account seems backwards (Dan F. Says: July 3rd, 2007 at 4:32 pm)

    Very nicely done Dave. Thank You.

    Reply

  61. Fantastic stuff!

    I echo James ‘comments above..
    I work for a Nonprofit museum and we’d like to use a twittergram type service for an upcoming website.

    We have scientists in antarctica & the arctic, and we want them audio blogging via satellite phones to a site hosted by us.

    is this a big no-no? I’m not a Webdev person at the museum, but could find the experstise to set it up here.

    Any comments would be much appreciated!

    Reply

  62. Hi Dave,

    Great seeing you at the Networked Journalism Conference in NYC. Hope to see in in SF…

    When twittergram started it was audio only so there was no need to identify a twittergram as audio, now with Flikr to Twitter, I’d like to mark my audio as audio. Right now my title is “iPhoned-in Twittergram”.

    1.
    Can you change it to “Audio Twittergram” It would be nice if there was a way for me to change my title myself.

    2.
    Flickrtotwitter – Can you add a title field to this service too? That way I could add “Photo Twittergram” to each photo post.

    As we discussed in NYC, the best solution would be a little thumbnail of the photo right on the twitter page, but until then this would work to remove the ‘mystery meat navigation’ I’d like my readers to know if they are going to get a photo or audio.

    3.
    Can you provide a link from each service’s page to the other? Make it easier to find.

    Thanks!
    –Steve

    Reply

  63. Twittergrams from the upload form don’t seem to be getting posted. Call-in posts are showing up.

    Reply

  64. Tweittergramming is something I have ignored til now, but would like to talk with you about Dave befreo we see each other again at Gnomedex.

    I have ways to tie it in with radio programming talkbacks and with an already in-phone experience.

    Give me a shout.

    Thanks

    Reply

  65. I just noticed someone twittered something under my name using twittergram.com! How is this possible? I don’t recal using twittergram since a few months back. How can someone post using my details.

    Reply

  66. Starnge thing is it’s not id the twittergram rss feed
    http://mp3.twittergram.com/edztra/rss.xml
    where did the twit come from?

    Reply

  67. Ah the twits are coming from switchabit!

    Reply

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