Scripting News for 6/30/2008

A way for Twitter back in the pink? 

I’m not sure how much of the stress in Twitter is caused by the services that poll its API on behalf of thousands of users, but it’s got to be a lot of work to service all those requests that are constantly coming in.

Here’s why it has so much work to do. When I post something to Twitter, within a couple of minutes it shows up on FriendFeed. I don’t know for sure, but I bet that it’s calling the Twitter API every few minutes to ask if Dave has posted something over there. Most of the time the answer is no. And it’s asking for each of the thousands of FriendFeed users that have connected their Twitter accounts to their FriendFeed accounts. Wouldn’t it be simpler for FriendFeed to say to Twitter: “Here’s a list of all the FriendFeed users who want to have their twits reflected over here.” Then Twitter could call FriendFeed saying “Yo, Dave just updated and here’s what he said.” Don’t call us we’ll call you. It’s often more efficient. 🙂

Back in the old days when I used to work on much larger systems known as mainframes, they had special-purpose computers whose only job was to offload work for the main computer, much the way a booster rocket or a tugboat help a space ship or an ocean liner. In computers they were called TIPs which is an acronym for Terminal Interface Processor. Each user sat at a terminal, a sort of dumb computer that behaved like a printer, and typed away, and then the TIP would talk to all the terminals, and then talk to the mainframe in a language only the two computers understood. It was much more efficient for the mainframe. Seems Twitter could use that kind of efficiency.

There’s lots of this kind of connecting going on these days, and it is costly. It slows systems down. Probably the way the problem is going to be solved is through something like the TIPs, adapted to the 21st Century.

Just a thought for a possible way to make Twitter a little more perky.

PS: In 1997 I knew Apple was going to fire its CEO, I had been brought in, in confidence. The morning of the announcement, I wrote a Wired column (published on the web) calling for his resignation. It ran two hours before the announcement. Some people mistook it for cause and effect. 🙂

Looking for a few good feeds 

I’m revamping my feed reading.

FriendFeed has made me (and apparently others) much more aware of how I get my news.

I’ve also learned a ton from the NewsJunk project. I get much better political news now than I ever have, and it’s getting better all the time.

Something I’ve learned…

The thing that makes the difference: GOOD FEEDS.

Behind those feeds of course are honest, smart people with a passion for information.

I started NewsJunk because I was getting terribly spotty news about politics. I asked how other people get their politics, and everyone said the same thing, they hunt and peck. Now I get a steady stream of great stuff. It’s like the briefing books political candidates get from their staff, but open to everyone. When a story breaks I get a bunch of perspectives. If I’m not interested, I don’t click, but in an instant I have a sense of what’s going on.

And it’s a level playing field. If a story breaks via pro or amateur, we get it. Fast. No waiting. (When we’re doing our job.)

Now, I want to straighten out my access to news about technology.

In a word, it sucks!

I want it not to suck.

As much. 🙂

Tech news is different from politics though, most people in the tech world, the insiders, hit TechMeme at least a few times every day, I do, at least 20 or 30 times. I don’t want it to change, it serves a very useful purpose. But it isn’t enough.

What I want is what I’ve always wanted: News about products. New products. What people think about products, but features added to popular products. And not just the really huge products, like GMail and Amazon. I use lots of stuff. You should see my bookmarks and my system tray. And some of the products I’m interested in aren’t even in my Bookmarks. Earlier today Steve Rubel wrote about Summize and a neat new feature they just added. It’s a really small thing, but I care about really small things. I make and products for a living. Ideas are important. And someday I might meet the guy who did that, and I’d like to know about it so I can congratulate him. The personal touches matter. People care that you notice. I certainly do!

You know what else I like — hearing about products from the person who implemented it. What were they thinking? What were their goals? What were they surprised by when people used the product? What questions do they have? You can learn a lot by listening to the person who wrote it.

Anyway, I want to know about products. Today I found two blogs that are devoted to reviewing tech products. I added their feeds to my mix.

I want to know what you rely on for product news, and I want to start reading what you read, voraciously. And I don’t just want to read it, I want to consume it. 🙂

So please, if you feel so inclined, either post a URL of a favorite product-related feed in the comments here or send it to me at scriptingnews1 at gmail dot com.


PS: If we can improve the flow of news about tech products we can create more opportunities for tech products. I’m sure there are niches we’re missing, big ones, but they’re hard to see because the picture has been muddied up by all kinds of peripheral stuff.

PPS: One of my inspirations for this work was a post by Fred Wilson where he said he wanted a TechMeme for inspiration. I don’t think it’ll end up looking like TM, and your source of inspiration might look very different from mine. We’ve gotten too centralized, imho — we’ll now get more decentralized. Pretty sure I see how it could work.

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