Returning to “Traditional” use of Twitter

After using Twitter as my push-based latest-news system for five months, I’ve gone back to the “traditional” use of Twitter. Without IM and large follower functionality, Twitter offers no way to experience a flow of tweets.

“What have I done!?”

I’ve gone back to the traditional use of Twitter. The method more than 95% of the userbase uses it for. I now use it to stay in touch with the people I’ve met and know personally, rather than using Twitter as a medium for info aggregation. It’s not possible to use Twitter how I did in the past.

If you know my series on flow (it kicked off here), you know what I was doing and how cool it was. I got the idea partially from Robert Scoble’s entry, The Secret to Twitter. His use was brilliant and it worked amazingly well!

Back in March of ’08 I began following any interesting person I thought to be intelligent and putting out informative tweets. Primarily I found people in the software development, new media, aviation, library science, and management arenas. I ended up following 6,218 people at the high (last week). Everyone’s updates were viewed in IM and I would see an amazing flow of information.

Usually hundreds of tweets per minute, forcing me to read very quickly and get a quick read on the blogging, technology, and media areas in a short period of time. It allowed me to find articles and posts that would have filtered in slowly on RSS (arguably, if I had more than my 632 RSS feeds I’d find more information here, too).

It was great. Flip on iChat over breakfast and watch the flow while eating granola and yogurt. An ideal start to the day.

But in the last week I’ve culled over 4,000. The removed are people who don’t follow me and who I never met in real life. The chance of our interaction is very small, and if we meet I’ll follow.

I’m looking forward to having more intimate interaction with friends and followers. Focus will shift more towards FriendFeed and Google Reader (RSS).

FriendFeed’s response about feeds not updating


Ross Miller at FriendFeed responded to my question about FriendFeed feeds not updating. It seems is blocking mass spidering of their site.

Ross’s email:

“Hi Sol, places restraints on our ability to crawl their site. So if for some reason the item is missed, it becomes very hard for us to retrieve the link. Unfortunately for now the refresh button is your best option when this happens. Sorry for the inconvenience and we hope to get this resolved with soon.”

Looks like this is a restriction on’s end.

Mobile phone GPS a security risk? Only to those who follow you

Steven Hodson, in a post over on Mashable, describes security risks and the waste of information that mobile phone GPS use brings (when pinpointing and announcing our locations). He poses some extremely valid points in regards to announcing one’s geolocation via Twitter, Brightkite, or FriendFeed being useless noise.

Telling people via a highly conversational medium such as instant messaging or an SMS text that you are currently at 13th St and Ash Lane is nothing more than noise. It’s a waste of precious conversation. To a few of your closer friends it may be relevant, such as a buddy that would meet you for coffee. But for the masses, it is unimportant and you’re guilty for wasting their time.

I’m guilty of this lately. I’ve been trying various mobile phone GPS services. It’s been fun and interesting, but I’m in agreement with Steven about this announcement being a waste (at least if it’s without background information). Steven doesn’t mention it, but my thought on optimal geolocation announcement is in a widget placed on one’s blog. It’s there for interested followers, but not intrusive or annoying.

But that’s where we agree. He describes broadcasting one’s geolocation as a security risk and I strongly disagree. Yes, there are some situations where it is. US soldiers in Iraq will not benefit from this feature. Folks in witness protection programs, runaways, victims of domestic violence, those being stalked, cheating spouses, and those in organized crime probably won’t either.

The typical citizen without conflict is not at risk. It’s easy to figure out when someone is normally at work, so knowing an optimal time to break in to someone’s home is already simple. It’s easy to find a person in a public place, so it’s already easy to find the optimal time to commit physical harm.

Note: If one is being stalked or believes him or herself to be in a situation where announcing location is dangerous, it’s simple to turn the feature off.

As I’ve said before, people are inherently good. They don’t go around looking for someone to damage or rob. There are some people who commit these crimes. These people use crow-bars instead of Facebook, and are stopped by alarm systems and deadbolts rather than a lack of geolocation data.

FriendFeed items not updating

FriendFeed + Delicious = 0

I’ve been using FriendFeed and more and more lately. Viigo (one of the best mobile RSS experiences available) has direct push to It’s far superior to the iPhone’s mobile Google Reader sharing experience, so I’ve been happily consuming and sharing.

But FriendFeed isn’t updating these posts. It would be understandable if everything weren’t updating, but it seems to be entries. Flickr, blog entries, Google Reader, and Twitter items are nearly instant.

To get around this one can view his or her page, edit/add services, click the item, and finally click ‘refresh’ – but that’s hardly worth the effort.

Is FriendFeed feeling growing pains? Bret Taylor mentioned in a comment to Robert Scoble (who had similar updating problems) FriendFeed had a hiccup during a spider.

Personally, I doubt this was anything more than a technical glitch, but geez… The purpose of FriendFeed is to share what we’re doing on the Internet. If things aren’t pulling through, it’s a critical issue.

Flow – Jabber/XMPP as an RSS over HTTP replacement

Twitter on XMPP is just the beginning…

Speed of Light

Courtesy NASA Glenn Research Center


I’ve been using Twitter as a main source of news and entertainment (it’s entertaining and informative to have commentary coming in with links, events, articles, and photos). Most everything pertinent to my areas of interest are discussed, so the latest news is passed around as discussion.

As my series on flow describes, my Twitter stream is received through a GTalk client and I’m receiving about 30 to 40 tweets per minute.

This is a lot of incoming information. A lot more than one could read and keep up with all day. It’s valuable for periods of time… Jump in to the river, jump out. This is sort of like news.

Now, I love RSS. I spend a good hour per day reading feeds. I believe it will be the standard in syndication for years to come. And maybe it will be the format passed over XMPP channels, too. In using Twitter for my flow of information I have discovered how amazing real-time updates of news can be, and how HTTP (the current method of pulling RSS feeds from various servers) isn’t powerful enough.

Imagine Google Reader being push based. Instead of periodically receiving items every five, ten, or fifteen minutes. You receive new blog entries, articles, etc, within milliseconds of their publication. This becomes amazingly powerful because you are no longer reading what happened, you are participating in what is happening.

Comment systems become conversation engines. Discussions and exchanges of information become natural, rather than one-way.

HTTP and web services, with their beautiful RESTfulness, won’t be going away. They have a very effective place for on-demand pulls of data. What I’m describing is a move away from HTTP and web services which currently poll – the enablement of FriendFeed, Twitter, blogs, and news services to fire off announcements on a push basis…

Nobody wants to wait three minutes before receiving their next round of updates. We want it when it happens.