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Tweetree Permanent link to this item in the archive.

You heard it here first, this thing is great!

It pulls in content it knows about like Flickr pics and YouTube videos so you can view inline.

It figures out the threading of replies (sort of) and displays them inline.

Other services they have direct support for: TwitPic, FriendFeed, Seesmic, Qik, Lala,, Xkcd.

It also figures out when you're pointing to a picture and sucks that in, and it gets the titles of web pages you point to.

And it's true to the design of your web page on

This is brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. And exactly what I asked for, which of course makes me happy!!

These guys are brilliant. Great stuff. They'll be rich next week so be nice to them. ;->

Please don't sell this to Loic. ;-> ;-> ;->

Update #1: They need item-level permalinks, unless I'm missing something.

Keepin it simple Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named pupinpot.jpgEver since Twitter came out I've been developing mini-apps that connect it with other services and utilities. Some have stood up over time, esp the Flickr-to-Twitter and functionality, and others have fallen into disuse. I thought that Voicemail-toTwitter was going to be a big one, but I don't use it much, though it's a simple call from my iPhone to create one and shoot it up to Twitter. All this experimentation was made possible by Twitter's simple API.

Then, enter FriendFeed and its API, which does a bit more than Twitter's, but then FriendFeed does a lot more than Twitter. There were some things inexplicably missing from FriendFeed's API, I lobbied for them, but they either haven't appeared, or when they did, they didn't do what I asked for. I don't know or care why, that's not what this post is about. Rather it's to say in one place what I've learned about FriendFeed-like services, and leave behind the notes, either for FriendFeed itself or for a comparable service.

1. FriendFeed should both import and export OPML subscription lists. The attributes specified on are necessary and sufficient for it to work with all other feed reader software, as far as I know, because there was a minimal set of attributes at the beginning, when Radio 8 implemented OPML import/export.

I was able to create a simple utility that exports a user's OPML from FriendFeed, but for it to really work, it should export the addresses of the feeds the user is subscribed to, not the addresses of the FriendFeed users, which is all I can access through the API. It should be possible for the user to completely disconnect from and take their subscriptions with them. This is another instance of "people come back to places that send them away" -- if you give people complete freedom to leave, they feel more comfortable about staying, building their presence on your service that may come in the future.

A picture named house.gif2. There should be a simple way to notify FF that a feed has updated. We developed such a capability in the blogging world and then the RSS world around a site I started called The ping protocol it used is still widely supported today both on the sending side by blogging tools such as WordPress, TypePad, Moveable Type, Blogger, etc etc and on the receiving side by Technorati, Google, Yahoo you name it. There's even a centralized pinger started by Matt Mullenwegg,, that makes it easy to send pings to everyone who cares. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that FF should support this protocol, it's very simple, it would take a couple of hours at most to implement. There's even a simpler REST version of the protocol if the XML-RPC version is too much.

3. RSS description elements seem to be a big problem for FriendFeed, but I don't understand why. It's true that they are used for two different purposes: In the classic way, as the description of a longer article, or to contain the full text of an article. They can contain encoded markup. So, imho, this is how they should deal with descriptions. Say the maximum length of a comment in FF is 1024 characters (I'm not sure what the actual limit is, but it doesn't matter). First, strip all markup and then if the resulting string is longer than 1024, truncate it to 1021 characters and add three dots at the end to indicate that there's more. I don't see what else they need to do. It could be I'm missing something, of course -- Murphy's Law, etc.

In the last two cases, to get the behavior I've wanted I've had to code to the API, which seems very wrong, when there are feed-based ways to do both things. Low-tech is always the right way to go, imho. There are many people who can create feeds who can't program to an API, and they shouldn't have to for things that can be done with feeds. I know that FF has proposed richer mechanisms for change notification, I'm not going to comment on those at this time. But first, before going the complex route, support the common language already used in the market you're entering. You'll find the natives more friendly if you do, imho. ;->

Social search, not authority-based Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named tramp.jpgLoic Le Meur wants Twitter's search to emphasize people who have more followers over those that have fewer. I think this is a bad idea. On FriendFeed, Jeremiah Owyang wants priority given to people he follows. This is a better approach, imho. Loic's means centralization, and Jeremiah's goes the other way, it shards search into many networks, and lowers barriers to entry, where Loic's approach raises them.

I favor Jeremiah's approach because I think the twitterverse is just starting and that the killer apps of this space, the users (as always) haven't arrived yet. We're still fumbling around with inadequate tools, doing things for the first time. It's way way too early to lock things down. And if authority is what we're after I doubt if number of followers equates to authority. Too many really smart people have very few followers.

Authority-based search was a great innovation in 1998, but that was ten years ago. We know what it's good for and what it's not. An example -- breaking news, although some people think that's what is good for, sometimes it doesn't work well at all. After the election I stopped watching cable news, and really slowed down on reading news sites. They were nowhere near as stimulating as they were before the election, and I had had enough of the news at least for a while. I needed a rest. But I never stopped reading Memeorandum and Techmeme, refreshing many times a day, and I have a renewed interest in Twitter as a source of news. My attention shifted to the online media.

Sometime in the last 24 hours war erupted in Gaza. I saw the first pictures in the AFP photo stream about then. I wasn't fully aware of what's going on cause photos only tell you so much. I knew people were dying. Then it got worse, pictures of dozens of dead people started showing up. But-- and here's the point, nothing showed up on Memorandum until early this morning. Whatever its algorithms are, they are surely authority-based. They work if a certain set of bloggers are interested in a story, but if they're enjoying a holiday or focused on other things, they miss it. So don't put your full faith in authority, you'll miss news.

Finally, Mike Arrington echoes Loic's call with a note of optimism: "Perhaps an industrious third party can take a crack at it. Don't forget that Twitter search is actually a product created by a startup called Summize. Twitter bought them in July." It's true that Twitter's search was created by a startup, but Twitter gave them access to the full data stream that they don't give other developers. What Arrington suggests is not possible, unless Twitter opens up the full stream. This is what Steve Gillmor has been lobbying for.

Another one -- I saw a note from Lisa Rein on Twitter, wondering when MSM was going to pick up on the strange circumstances around the death of Mike Connell, Karl Rove's 45-year-old IT expert, who was asking for protection because he feared for his life. Who knows why the press isn't covering it, I don't know how true it is, but maybe it is true and maybe someone is hushing it up. It has happened before.

My brother Om Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Om just wrote a one-year retrospective on the big event last December that set his life on a new course. It's a beautiful piece. For people like Om and myself, it took a big wakeup call to help focus us on what's important.

What can I say. I still eat red meat, but I stopped smoking and I work out every day. I've lost a fair amount of weight this year, which makes me feel better, but there's more to lose.

I still blog, I can't not blog, basically -- it's in my blood along with lots of other stuff that keeps me alive. I'm also addicted to humor and irony. Greatness in others inspires me more than anything else.

That's why I love Om -- he's always had a warmth and charm, people notice that, but in the last year, he's grown in ways that weren't possible before. That's what wakeup calls do for you if you're listening.

So -- Om gets many more years of life, and we get many more years of Om. Win-win. ;->

In 2004, when I made a decision like the ones Om describes, when I dropped a project that would have shortened my life, a very smart man, Michael Winser, posted a note about dropping things that bounce and those that break. Unfortunately his post and the speech it refererred to are no longer online. But the short story is worth repeating.

"A rubber ball will bounce and someone else can pick it up. That's your work life. The glass ball is family, friends, your health. Drop it, and if you're lucky it'll just crack. If you're not so lucky, it'll break into a million pieces. No matter what it'll never be the same. The people were shocked because I dropped a rubber ball, deliberately. Had to do it. If you don't understand, ponder it, and you'll learn something about life that's important. No Web project is worth dying for. Well, maybe it's possible that one is, but this one ain't it."

Maybe our little community is ready to grow up in a new way -- people get sick and sometimes they get better, but sometimes they don't and sometimes the outcome depends on what they do. In 2004 I guess people didn't believe that heart disease is a killer, or didn't accept that I had it, or that I might act to protect my health. Maybe now we're ready to face that?

That's what Om's story is all about -- I know because it's my story too.


Last update: Saturday, December 27, 2008 at 4:02 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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