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New features in FF and Twitter

Friday, July 03, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named mirror.gifYesterday while my poor addled brain struggled to cope with jetlag, Twitter released a small feature with potentially wide implication, and FriendFeed released something new related to search that I thought they had already released. I don't think my confusion in the latter case had anything to do with jetlag. Permalink to this paragraph

New Twitter feature: It now hots-up hashtags.  Permalink to this paragraph

So when you refer to #iranelection in a tweet it links to a search page with the results of a search for that string in the twitstream. I've hotted it up the way Twitter would have. Nice to have for sure, seems it should have always worked that way. They probably didn't do it earlier to lessen the load on the search servers. Permalink to this paragraph

And FriendFeed now has real-time search. Maybe the feature is totally new. It seems I've seen it before. But I still don't get it. Let me try to explain. Permalink to this paragraph

FF has a lot of stuff flowing through it, including part of the Twitter firehose. I think they just get the tweets of Twitter users who are followed on FF. So if I have it search for "davewiner" it returns a subset of all the occurences of my Twitter handle. Steve Gillmor says that they've now got his much-fabled feature -- Track -- implemented. How so? Unless they're getting the whole firehose from Twitter.  Permalink to this paragraph

http://friendfeed.com/search?q=kitten+or+cat  Permalink to this paragraph

It's nice that they track sources other than Twitter, like this blog's RSS feed. But apparently they don't poll very often, and they don't support weblogs.com-compatible pings (I know they invented a more complicated protocol, why am I not excited about that) so you can hardly call that "real-time." (BTW, this item first appeared in the feed at 7:52AM. It showed in FF at 8:28AM.) Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named mirror.gifAll this hype about real-time is welcome (but hardly new). The ideal of having search be up-to-the-minute accurate is an important one. It's just that no one is there yet. And 140-char tweets all repeating the same thing over and over and then retweeting those same things, well that hardly counts as information. After a while it's more interesting to watch Wolf Blitzer. And that's really saying something. A picture named sidesmiley.gif Permalink to this paragraph

So, while I'm glad that FF is reaching out beyond Twitter, their interface is impossible to use. Sit someone down off the street and have them try to watch the flow of tweets and comments rush by. No doubt FF's interface would make an impressive display for a mad genius in a scifi movie about the end of the world, but for more ordinary folk? Back to the drawing board. Permalink to this paragraph

BTW, talking about new features that should be sent back to the labs -- Microsoft announced that they are including results from selected Twitter users. The relevance criteria is follower count. Might have worked last year, before the SUL, but now follower count is more a reflection of how much you are pwned by Ev and Biz, not how the net values your opinion. I'm sure Larry and Sergey are having a good laugh. Try again Microsoft. Use some other algorithm, follower count is meaningless.  Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, 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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