history – Stay N Alive

Twitter, One Year Later and Nothing Has Changed

Twitter“Twitter’s all about the real time.” That’s what Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, said in this interview Scoble did with me sitting in the background almost 1 whole year ago. As I sit here, my Twitter is inconsistently providing updates, they have specifically told their users some updates will just be missing over the next little bit, and I’ve been waiting on CoTweet, my preferred client, for hours to provide me new updates. No, I don’t blame CoTweet – after all, my own service, SocialToo has also been suffering from these delays and slowness issues due to some sort of “architectural changes” they are making on the back-end. Twitter’s slow, follower and following numbers are off, apps are hitting rate limits when they shouldn’t normally be, caching issues are everywhere. We’re at Twitter’s mercy, and it’s far from real time!

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Rewind back one year. I recommend watching the above video if you have 15 minutes. I’m hearing the same things today that I heard one year ago in that room, and I’m still just as frustrated as I was an entire year ago. I’ve been strung along and I’m not happy, as a user, and especially as a developer.

A full year ago Twitter was working on their architecture, dealing with scalability issues in times of “massive growth”, and that never, ever stabilized. In fact I think the media has actually kind of gotten used to it – you rarely hear frustrations today like you did back then when nothing has really changed! At this point I’m beginning to think it will never stabilize – I’m scared as both a business owner who writes software on top of the service (I should have heeded my own warning half a year ago), and I’m scared as a user, and someone who has brought hundreds, if not thousands to try out the service that my reputation may be tarnished.

I’m talking with a lot of media entities and reporters about Twitter lately and frankly, I’m not sure what to tell them any more. Do I keep pushing them to try out Twitter? Do I just be brutally honest that this is just what Twitter is and people should just be prepared to get used to it? Or do I tell them it’s not worth leaving Facebook and their existing networks there to pursue? After all, Twitter themselves barely even use their own service. When was the last time you saw them respond to a complaint from someone about Twitter, on Twitter? Does anyone really know where to go on Twitter for Twitter support? Even in the video above I’m referred back to the developer mailing lists, not Twitter – nothing has changed. When at the same time I can always contact @comcastcares, or @scottmonty, or @RichardAtDell and get prime support from some of Twitter’s biggest users.

I’m seeing hundreds, if not thousands of people begin to game the system of Twitter. People are using services all around Twitter, and I’ll admit some are even using mine, to gain massive followings, empty followings, just to accrue followers with no relationship underneath that number. I’m beginning to feel that most of my followers are just dry numbers because of that – Twitter is seriously losing its value for me as a user.

Evan and Biz, it’s been a year already – I’m your biggest fan. Because of that I’m also your biggest critic, and I’d really like to see some improvement! At what point can we expect to see brighter skies and greener pastures on Twitter, or will it continue to be “we wish we could give you a time frame, but it could be months down the road” like you said a whole year ago? Just be frank with us – be honest. Let us know what to expect. Communicate to both your users and your developers in a way we can all enter this knowing what we’re going to get, because frankly I have no idea what to expect from the service any more.

Maybe it’s about time Twitter starts looking to sell. There are many businesses quite large enough to handle the problems Twitter is experiencing right now, and even prepare for 2 years down the road. There are businesses that have experienced this growth and know how to get it in order quick. Something’s not right at Twitter – it hasn’t been right for over a year now, and maybe it’s time to fix it.

Forgive my venting – as a developer I’m frustrated and I needed to get this out. In the meantime I’m going to go write some more code. While Twitter’s down you can find me on FriendFeed where it’s nice and green and pretty, oh, and real time!

2008 – The Year My Life Exploded

One of the reasons I started this blog back in 2004 (I believe it was actually earlier, in various forms) was to enable me to chronicle the intellectual things I came across throughout life. This year has been such an amazing year for me, experiencing the birth of my son (which we Twittered and Ustreamed), the birth of 2 identical twin nieces (which I didn’t document here), to the complete opposite of the spectrum with the death of both my Grandfather, and just recently my Grandmother, whose 85th birthday would have been January 1st, 2009. I have experienced such joys, and at the same time such sorrow, and you all have been there with me every step of the way. I’ve never done the “list” thing before (never had time!), so I thought this year would be different. I thought I’d go through each month and share with you some of the highlights on Stay N’ Alive this year.


January was the start of my Twitter woes, with frequent outages and frustration.  ChaCha saved my brother due to lack of weather and traffic reports in the area he was traveling.  January was the month I created my largest annoyance, coining the technique (which was the first time the idea was mentioned anywhere, I believe) of tagging friends in Facebook Notes to bring attention to them.  This technique worked and helped me build relationships with several bloggers I am now friends with today.  I now hate the technique because everyone uses it on me.  Myspace announced their own developer platform, giving hints to a date OpenSocial would go live.  Pownce, which ironically I was a user of long before Twitter, began to show purpose for me.  People got confused about what the Facebook Platform was, and the leader of my faith passed away (Death #1).


I started February by coining my idea of Social Media bringing back the small communities and villages of olden times.  I pointed out the fact that Amazon has its own Social Network (which surprisingly still, not many people are aware of).  I took my very first trip to the Bay area, and got an awesome tour of the Googleplex from my cousin, who treated me to one of the best lunches I’ve ever eaten.  I wrote my first OpenSocial application, and realized web development had changed as we know it.  Back then, Twitter Track over SMS still worked, so I wrote one of the very first posts suggesting Twitter as a tool for disasters and emergencies.  Other than for news, I’m not so sure about that any more.  I launched OpensocialNow.com, which quickly fizzled as I ran out of time.  London had a small, but rare earthquake, and I saw it first on Twitter, on my cell phone, via track. In February I published my first book.


March, Facebook introduced their Feed Forms (which we were first to announce), providing a way for developers to easily publish stories to the Facebook news feed.  March marked the birth of our 4th child and youngest son, Jesse III, which we Twittered, blogged, and Ustreamed the entire way.  We began to see the makings of the first Facebook Worm, which this blog was one of the first to report (and henceforth recorded by Fortiguard security, and then PC Magazine’s blog).  Google launched the OpenSocial Foundation, and Yahoo became a member and announced their (future) support for the platform.


April I attended my first Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.  I learned the wonders of the Bloggers Lounge, and met several great new people there.  Bungee Labs made some great announcements there, and it was looking up for them as Google announced their App Engine platform and the idea of Software as a Service was put in the public eye.  Of course, with layoffs later down the road, things aren’t looking so hot for them right now.  April was also a hallmark month, with the launch of SocialToo.com at the end of the month, in a very small announcement, I invited my small audience at the time to join and help build out intelligent blacklisting for the service.  It was this time I met Guy Kawasaki and built out the UI on his behalf to enable him and myself to follow those that were following us on Twitter.  We didn’t officially launch to the general public until last month. April, I also got to guest post on Guy Kawasaki’s blog.


May was an exciting, and somber month at the same time. My former business colleague and friend, Phil Burns’, daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Through Twitter and this blog, and others kind efforts of sharing on their blogs, we were able to raise over $10,000 in just a month, all through means of social media.  This further witnessed to me the power of Social Media, and makes me truly believe in some of the things people like Beth Kanter are doing right now.  In March, I wrote my first 1-word post, in response to another one-word post on TechCrunch, which was in response to Twitter being down for the umpteenth time in a matter of days. That prompted Twitter to blame their outages on Robert Scoble, and Robert Scoble blaming Twitter for their own problems.  I took a trip out to Google I/O, and Robert, under last minute circumstances, invited me to join him in going to the Twitter offices and working things out.  It was there I met Ev Williams and Biz Stone in person, realized what a mess the service really was, and ended up on the front page of TechCrunch.  It was just after that that Twitter continued their classic behavior of cutting out features from the API with little to no notice to developers. It was at the same conference I was able to speak for the Slicon Valley Web Builders on Facebook Development in FBML.  April was also the month I began seriously using FriendFeed.


June was a somber month for me.  It started with Facebook announcing their yearly F8 conference, right in the middle of OSCON, both conferences I was hoping to attend.  The most somber part of the month however came when my Grandfather, and namesake, died in a quick turn for the worse due to Cancer and old age.  This was a hard thing for me, being one of the closest people I knew to die.  It was also death #2 of the year of people I adored.  Shortly after that, on my way to the funeral services in fact, I noticed some developers were completely shutting down their apps due to problems with the Twitter API.  I predicted they would continue to succeed regardless.  The month ended somberly, with Bill Gates, a hero of mine, leaving Microsoft.


In July, I got my new 2nd generation iPhone, and realized it needs Privacy controls. I attended Facebook’s F8 conference, where I predicted, and they very quietly announced plans for a mobile platform API. All this occurred as they were announcing the launch of Facebook Connect.  Right before F8 I finished my second book. In July I left Twitter, learned some valuable lessons about the service, and ended up coming back a few months later when I realized no one was joining me.  SocialToo announced Identi.ca support.  July was also the month I began blogging as a member of the team at LouisGray.com.  My first post was about none-other than blogging.


In August I celebrated my 31st Birthday.  OpenMicroblogger launched their competing software to the Laconi.ca Open Source microblogging platform.  Twitter launched the ability to track threaded replies in the API, and I began to suggest that the Twitter platform needed a meta tagging language to remove the need for the “@”.  Some suggested that the LDS Church was buying Facebook (yeah, I know).  We saw history made as the Olympics hit China.


September I took a temporary turn to full time work, going to help out i.TV bring their App to the number one spot in the iTunes App store.  Since then they have continued their growth, and continue as a client of mine as I build out SocialToo.  I launched the first public WordPress plugin for Facebook Connect.  WordPress.com passed 4 million blogs.  I had an excellent time at BlogWorld in Las Vegas, where I roomed with Louis Gray and met a ton of new people and bloggers (are bloggers people?).


In October I announced for the first time I would be voting for a (gasp!) Democrat.  i.TV reached #1 in the iTunes App store, and I got to witness it first hand, having a part in their promotion and growth.  Facebook reached their 10 billionth photo and we were one of the first to report it.  Proposition 8 in California became the center of a love/hate storm.  Someone left a suicide note in the Facebook developer forums.  SocialToo announced Follower statistics for our users.


I spent a lot of November speaking, starting with an O’Reilly Webinar on Facebook development for beginners.  America elected our first African American president, and I voted, but had to pay for my Chik Fil A sandwich.  I presented to a large group of CIOs in Dallas.  SocialToo went live to the public! (and Guy Kawasaki joined forces to help launch it, as co-owner) I presented Facebook Development in under 5 minutes at Ignite Salt Lake City.


I started out December participating on several panels.  We launched a new redesign on Stay N’ Alive.  My family and I took a vacation to Las Vegas.  After getting back, just 2 days before Christmas we received disheartening news that my Grandmother had passed away.  This would make death #3 of the year, but we’re happy she’s home for Christmas.  We ended the month with great news however, announcing Louis Gray joining the Board of Advisors for SocialToo.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

As I write this, it’s quickly approaching midnight here in the MountainWest.  It’s been an incredible year for me and this blog – I can’t wait to see what lies in store for the next year.  In the meantime, “Stay” tuned, and keep watching here and LouisGray.com, as well as my new business, SocialToo.com for more great content regarding Technology, Social Networking, and new technologies.  I promise to keep things exciting around here, and look forward to the upcoming year.  Let’s hope I don’t explode!