Scripting News for 9/30/07

Payloads for Twitter, round two 

On Friday evening I wrote a piece about integrating images, audio and perhaps other types with Twitter. There’s been a bit of reaction, not too much, I think because most of the people who are adversarial about this kind of stuff either don’t use Twitter, or because it’s the weekend.

Most of the reaction was either puzzled or negative. An example of puzzlement. Isn’t that what Pownce does? Yes, but… Two things: 1. Pownce is still invite-only and 2. Pownce doesn’t have an API, so it’s inherently not as interesting to me, as a developer, because I can’t build things on it.

I like Twitter because it’s open to anyone to use, without an invitation, and lots of people use it, people I care about, and it has a very nice API. Further, as I’ve gotten to know the people involved, I’ve learned that the API is of supreme importance to them. So our interests are in-line there. I see Twitter as a framework to build things on, a platform, like a big Christmas tree we can all hang ornaments on. I could build nicer ornaments with a few extra wires on the network that connects all the ornaments. In fact, I’ve already built two of them, and we use them all the time. But I couldn’t ask too many people to use them because they’re too ugly. What I’ve proposed is a way to make them pretty, to make them work the way people expect them to.

Now another form of pushback is, well why don’t you just build your own framework, different from Twitter, that does what you want, and leave Twitter alone. To which I say, I can’t do anything to Twitter, other than talk about it. Whether to build the interfaces or not is up to the people at Twitter. I can have an opinion, yet ultimately the decision, and responsibility is theirs. Now, why don’t I clone it? Well that’s something I’m just not going to do. I have relaxed lifestyle these days. I’m beyond the point where I feel the need to prove anything through my work. I like to play and try out new ideas, just for the pleasure of it. If I were 20 years younger, I probably would be approaching this differently, but I’m not 20 years younger. 🙂

No doubt there are people, lurking in the shadows, who would like to share some of Twitter’s success. The idea is so good that we’re just at the beginning of its adoption. Maybe there are as many as 50,000 people regularly using Twitter. I think in a few years there will be millions, using Twitter, or something very much like it.

But we’re at a unique place in the evolution of this stuff, which in some ways is very good. Suppose there were 20 Twitter-like systems out there, and we wanted to add a feature to all of them. Forget it! Developers just don’t like working with each other enough to overcome their competitive urge. But right now, with one player in the market, we could make 10 times the progress we’ll be able to make when there are 2 or 3. And a million times the amount in a market with 20 Twitter-alikes.

Further, the richer the API is, and the more broadly supported it is, the greater the incentive for newcomers to be compatible with Twitter. I don’t get the warm fuzzies from Pownce that they are willing to follow anyone’s lead, even though they don’t yet have an API. But if anyone out there is brewing another entrant, and reading this, please please be compatible with the Twitter API. Not just the spirit, but the letter. Make sure that all the tools built for Twitter run without modification on your system.

So these are just some of the additional thoughts. Evolution of APIs is an art, not a science. I’ve learned a lot about it before the Internet, and then in XML-based formats and protocols. We’re at a sweet moment right now, and if the Twitter guys want to lead, and if the rest of us are willing to be led (I am) then we can really build something wonderful.

Will the US bomb Iran? Soon? 

There is a lot of random speculation in my aggregator today about “surgical” strikes by the US in Iran. It’s unthinkable that the same process that led to the disastrous occupation of Iraq could stand, uncorrected, and get us into a much more serious conflict with Iran, one which we won’t “win,” (Bush’s plan for Iraq, ludicrous) no matter what we do. When will we take control of our government and stop this?

Google search for “surgical strikes Iran.”

The Mets on the last day of the regular season 

I tuned in the Mets game a few minutes late, and they’re already down 5-0 in the top of the first. Ooops. It’s now 7-0.

The Mets don’t have to win to make it to the postseason, if the Phillies lose. If that happens, they’d be tied, and would play a tie-breaker, winner-take-all game (I think tomorrow).

When Mets fans get a sense of entitlement, they break your heart. The Yankess are the entitled ones. The Mets are hapless.

“The nightmare is over for the Mets,” says the announcer at the end of the Marlins at-bat. No, it’s not over until it’s over. A big lesson in the philosophy of baseball.

In all my years following the Mets I don’t think I’ve ever seen them win easily. For that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them lose easily either. 🙂

As the Mets score their first run of the day, I’m reminded of Tug McGraw, an early Mets philosopher, who said “Ya Gotta Believe.” I believe this is one of those moments when believing might make a difference.

Final: Mets lost, Phillies won. No joy in mudville tonight. 😦

5 responses to this post.

  1. i find this chart interesting

    and also the fact that only 10% of twitter’s use is via and the rest is via the API

    here’s my question? when will people start building apps/services that sit on top of multiple APIs? when will we have a client like Twitterific that uses the Twitter API, the Facebook API, and a few others?

    Jeff Pulver calls it the “social media living room” and i think its coming soon.



  2. Twittergram uses more than two APIs, Flickr, Twitter, and the connection between BlogTalkRadio and Twittergram is a web service too. I guess that’s five apps if you include Twittergram as an app. Wait a minute we also use Amazon S3 to store the MP3s, so that’s a sixth app.

    I’m pretty sure we had apps as far back as 1999 that integrated more than one app.


  3. #7 is Tinyurl. 🙂


  4. I guess you already know about the Twitter Fan Wiki?
    It seems like a good place to leave a marker about API extensions you’d like to see and ideas for Apps that haven’t been built yet.

    Take a look at Programmableweb and you’ll see tons of mashups involving Twitter and 1 or more other APIs.


  5. Fred – i’m currently working on an API that itself uses services from another 4 API’s.

    I agree, but the big issue is that things are a bit risker as you are reliant on a 3rd party – the bigger the 3rd party the better, but wonder how smaller service providers will support QoS.


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