This article provides a new and more interesting take on twitter. It’s like a present-tense exonet, very “now” oriented rather than library of knowledge oriented.
I’ve stopped much twitter viewing for two reasons: first, my app for reading tweets was a fantastic Outlook plugin that was a good part of my workflow. (With the Airbook now, Outlook is consigned to finding stuff in my archives that hasn’t imported readily to Mail.app.) Second, I got tired of seeing a vast majority of tweets in this formula: Catchy 5 words + shortlink.
The reason the lots of short links model doesn’t work for me is that 1) too much clicking and back and forth between twitter app and browser and 2) too much crap I don’t want to have to click to find out I don’t want to read anyhow (such as “news” from unreliable sites), and 3) too many duplicates in material that’s linked multiple times or by different services. The standard “change the link color” paradigm hasn’t appeared in any twitter app I’ve tried, and it sure doesnt work based on the ultimate URL anyhow given the plethora of different link-shortening sites.
So what fixes those problems? As I thought about the approach Mark described, I went further: is there a twitter app that turns the links into the equivalent of an RSS feed for you, all pre-pulled down and ready to read?
I set out to do some research to see what was out there. What pops into my stream of consciousness but this Lifehacker article about Lazyscope, from 4 days before Mark’s post!
So I read the articles, check out the video and try to grok the model. Lazyscope is similar to what I had just written. (It makes me wonder how much of the blurb on the lifehacker post from my RSS feed (which I definitely didn’t read) stuck in my head to feed into my idea. Funny.)
I let this sit a week to cogitate on whether my idea is better enough to bother with….
Here’s the difference I see: I need fewer tools, not more. Lazyscope either becomes another Twitter app or another feed reader. Maybe it’s got what I need to replace my feedreader, but that’s not really the problem, is it? No one is looking at Lazyscope because their *reader* is a problem; it’s because the twitter feed/current tweet paradigmatic model is the problem.
So I just started exploring twitter feeds. Can’t get my timeline as a feed, apparently. The link is amazingly “missing” if I try Google Reader (Ed. note: this was drafted before Google Reader was euthanized) on Firefox, chokes on basic (I guess I’ve read enough to understand that to mean “non-OAuth”) authentication in Safari, and I’m going to see what happens in my mobile reader, Newsrack. Nope. The authentication works but the feed is just my favorites. Is there actually a correct feed link? I don’t want to state that it can’t be found because the world is just too big sometimes.
Okay, so what it seems like I need is an app that takes my twitter feed, properly authenticated, and does the following:
1. Unshortens shortlinks.
2. Compares and eliminates duplicates (could just lump them into one item, expandable, in case some user added something useful in her tweet)
3. Compares and eliminates duplicate RTs and similar
4. Some sort of organizing theme to the links that might not be as basic as reverse chronological (I’m thinking theme or source or even keywords of some kind)
So the next question, after trying lazyscope out later, will be whether (a) such a tool is worthwhile (yes) and whether (b) such a tool can be made and whether (c) such a tool is permitted via Twitter’s API.
This idea of turning Twitter into a realtime RSS feed, which is a phrase I’m borrowing from an article about the genesis of app.net, is sort of interesting. It ties into the now-ancient notion of a conversation, a stream that continues on and you no longer try to step in the same place twice.