tweetdeck – Stay N Alive

It’s Time to Free the Twitter Client

infocard_114x80Dave Winer wants a programmable Twitter client. I think it’s a great idea.  It’s something the browser has had for quite awhile now via extensions, frameworks, and plugins.  Up until this point Twitter clients have been closed systems that can’t really be extended in any way.  Loic Lemeur thinks he has the answer with the ability to extend his company’s Seesmic Desktop client – I applaud them for this – it’s something that I think would allow apps like my to help clean up the stream both in and out of Twitter.  In this way the Twitter client isn’t stuck with exclusive relationships where partners have to pay large sums of money to participate.  Developers and users have full control over the experience they get from the client.  I have a recommendation for Loic, Iain, and other social browser developers though: extend your browsers using open standards if you’re going to do it.

Up to this point we’ve been talking server-based open architectures.  You have OpenID, OAuth, Wave, rssCloud, Pubsub Hubbub, heck, you even have HTTP, SMTP, and even TCP/IP.  But up until now there haven’t been many client-based architectures that extend across any client enabling developers to easily write code for any web client on the client side and have that port from the AIR client to another AIR client, to the browser, and to any other app that touches the web.  Fortunately that technology is here now, and I think the Twitter and Facebook client developers have the opportunity to push this stuff mainstream and put pressure on the generic web browser developers to do the same with their own extension architectures.  That technology is the Selector – Action cards.

Craig Burton said the Cookie is dead, and this is why:  Cookies can’t extend across multiple applications on a single computer.  The Selector has that potential.  Imagine a plugin architecture that read an Information Card to identify you on Twitter or Facebook, etc.  You could add to it an Action card from a site like SocialToo (my site), and based on that Action card and the settings set forth in the Action card by the user the entire Seesmic Desktop experience will be customized based on the settings SocialToo set for that user based on their preferences.  The cool thing about this is it can all be done in simple (and open) Javascript using frameworks like Kynetx’ KRL.

If I were Loic Lemeur I would seriously be studying the open standard of Information cards and especially Action cards right now.  He has the opportunity to follow an open standard in this plugin development architecture that would extend across his app into other apps and even the browser.  This is Seesmic’s opportunity to lead in this effort.  If not other clients will take the ball by embracing these standards – developers will flock to this if it’s done right.

My hope is that Seesmic and any other Twitter or Facebook client can do these plugin architectures the right way.  Information cards and Action cards right now are the most open and extensive way for any desktop (or even mobile) client to put control back in the developers’, and more importantly, the users’ hands.  I hope they do the right thing.

I commented on Loic’s blog post but did not receive a response – hopefully we can hear more about their plans for this new architecture soon, and let’s hope it’s built on open standards.  If you write the first Twitter client to support Information cards or Action cards let me know and you’ll get a big fat blog post here promoting the heck out of it.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s the future of the web and we need to be pushing it as much as possible.  I’m calling all client developers to action.

Be sure to read my article on my vision for no log in buttons here – it will help you understand this stuff, and more of my vision, even further.


Twitter Needs to Buy TweetDeck

tweetdeckWSJ today reported that China has blocked, preventing its 1.3 billion citizens from potentially accessing the site.  Iain Dodsworth, developer of TweetDeck, was quick to point out however (which I noticed on FriendFeed ironically) that his service is still reportedly accessible in the Mainland.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Twitter, you need your own desktop client!

With everyone up in arms over how Twitter will monetize and when it will happen, there has been one obvious missing link from the start.  Twitter has never had control over how Tweets get to the users.  They themselves have admitted the API gets used much more than their own site gets used, showing, to me, that there is a way, currently, Twitter could be monetizing.  Twitter has made it clear they do not intend to advertise through Tweets, which would almost certainly be rejected by their current user-base, already annoyed by the abundance of spam on the site.  What Twitter could do however, that is assuming they have control over the main methods users receive Tweets, aka their desktop clients, is insert ads into such a desktop client and their own website, unobtrusive to users.  Users will probably not even care at such ad placement, considering Google gets away with it, Yahoo and Microsoft do within their own search products.

Other Monetization Strategies

According to a recent TechCrunch article, Iain Dodsworth himself is already looking to monetize via this method.  His method doesn’t even involve advertising, and maybe, in a world where advertising is beginning to prove ineffective, his method has even more potentially lucrative than the one I mention.  His method is, according to TechCrunch, to charge developers looking for integration into TweetDeck for integration into the product.  I think this is a great idea, and something that, with the popularity of TweetDeck, will prove quite profitable for him in the end.

Twitter could be doing this as well and perhaps even more effectively with the strong developer platform they have built.  Add to that ability to integrate directories of applications into such an application enable featured app listings, along with perhaps an advertisement here or there Twitter could very quickly become profitable just by having control of such an application.

Why TweetDeck is a Good Choice

This isn’t meant to begrudge any of the other apps I enjoy and use.  The fact is that TweetDeck is the most popular and most used Desktop app for Twitter right now (even though we can’t prove that at the moment thanks to Twitter API issues).  It has the most users and most adoption – it would be the quickest barrier to entry, and clearly has features their users like, as they seem to continue using the app.

Considering deals are already being made to monetize the application, and considering, based on the recent investment of $500,000 into the company, comparatively speaking to the amount of money Twitter claims to have, TweetDeck shouldn’t be that expensive for Twitter to buy at the moment.  Now’s the time Twitter. I wouldn’t wait much longer, as TweetDeck is about to become a whole lot more valuable.

More Distribution Options

Considering the recent issues in China, were Twitter to own the distribution channel, let’s imagine it’s TweetDeck, they would still have control of what goes out to China, and how to monetize off of those users.  Currently, TweetDeck, and any client for that matter, have no devotion to Twitter – it’s just the first service they’re servicing in a long line of other services they’re also adding to their clients.  Twitter should own this opportunity, and where they are claiming to be the next “AP”, if they’ve learned anything from the News organizations (I’ve worked in this industry), they need to control the distribution and not just the content.

I think Twitter is giving up an important opportunity by not having control of the desktop.  I could probably say the same for the mobile phone (especially the iPhone).  Perhaps their fear is that it would introduce unfair competition for the other desktop clients out there, but I don’t see any reason the other clients can’t compete as well, if not more than Twitter would provide anyway.  This simply provides an important distribution platform where they would be provided many more monetization opportunities.  I think it’s win-win.

Now, to get the guys at Twitter to start reading my blog…

GMail is My Twitter Client

TweetBeepI’ve mentioned multiple times I’m a fan of multiple Twitter clients. I’m a big fan of TweetDeck due to its Twitter and Facebook support, the TwitScoop support, and groups and saved searches support. It’s also pretty stable and doesn’t kill my computer when I use it. I’m a big fan of Seesmic Desktop because it has group support and multiple Twitter account support (along with Facebook support). I love Tweetie because of its simplicity, lack of memory usage, native support for the Mac, and the iPhone version I like for the same reason.  I also love CoTweet for its easy management of Twitter from a business perspective.  However, I think you’ll be surprised to learn that I rarely use any of them any more. My new preferred Twitter (and even FriendFeed) client: Gmail.

Let’s face it, whether I follow all those that follow me and segment out my favorites into groups (in a client like TweetDeck or Seesmic), or if I only follow a select few, my responsibility is still the same. I need to know what is said about me, my brand(s), and any other interesting things people are saying that I need to know about. Frankly, I can’t do this effectively while only tracking the small numbers of people I follow using one of the traditional Twitter clients. There would still be people talking about me, or the topics I’m interested in elsewhere, whether I follow them or not. The whole follow/friend game is incredibly ineffective for this reason, regardless of the method you use – it’s one of the reasons I just auto-follow. At least you can DM me if I let those that follow me do so by following them back. I decided I needed a better solution.

As it turns out, Twitter search (when it works) is fairly effective at catching what I want to hear on Twitter. I can search for @mentions of my name, my old Twitter account, misspellings of my name, my company, topics I’m interested in hearing about, and more. It returns the data I want. The problem with that is that I have to keep checking back for it, and there’s no really good way to save searches. I could do it in TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop, but even with those I need to continue checking to be effective. I think that’s a waste of time. Why not make the Tweets come to me?

Yes, there’s an App for that. Michael Jensen (@mdjensen on Twitter), a Twitter, FriendFeed, and iPhone developer (and Perl developer!) is the author of a site called TweetBeep. Louis Gray turned me onto it, as this is also one of the ways he tracks mentions of his name. All that needs to be done is to sign up for an account on TweetBeep, provide your Twitter credentials, and specify search criteria you want it to search for on your behalf.  You can create as many alerts as you like, and it’s 100% free! Specify the frequency of the alert (hourly or daily), and now all mentions of the terms you want it to track, including mentions of your Twitter username, brand(s), name, and more will all be delivered to your e-mail inbox. It will also track domains, and automatically un-shorten various URL-shortening services so you can also track mentions of your domain name.

So now, with TweetBeep I am no longer regularly checking my Twitter client of choice to see if anyone else has said something I might be interested in. I have those delivered to me, in batch, via e-mail, and I have saved myself a ton of time doing so! Because of my use of Gmail and TweetBeep to manage Twitter for me I am very rarely needing to check Twitter any more. Now, if I could just break the habit of checking it anyway!  I guess you could say I now truly follow, and listen, to millions of people – I just now have a way to sift through the noise.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing how Gmail is also my FriendFeed Client – you’ll like this one so stay tuned…

Mac Wins When it Comes to Twitter

PC or Mac? SurveyWith the launch of my new favorite Twitter app, Tweetie for the Mac yesterday, I wanted to see how successful it could be.  Damon Cortesi, who runs, stated he was seeing Tweetie (the number one iPhone app for Twitter) give TweetDeck, the current number one Twitter client, a run for its money. (Literally, considering Tweetie costs $14.95 and TweetDeck is free)  After doing an informal poll via Twitter, I decided to create a SocialToo SocialSurvey around the question, and sent it to my Twitter followers.

From the poll, which is still running, at the time of this writing out of 138 people, 76 (55%) of people on Twitter use a Mac.  46 (33%) use a PC, a far drop behind.  15 (10%) use Linux, and just one uses another OS besides PC or Mac.  These stats would explain the popularity of a client like Tweetie, which runs just for Mac and iPhone.

We discussed this on FriendFeed.  The comments there ranged anywhere from those that were solely on a PC or a Mac, to those that used to be on a PC, but now were on a Mac.  Others use the iPhone or a Blackberry mostly to access Twitter.  Regardless, those that commented were still overwhelmingly Mac.

So it begs the question, with the new influx of celebrities and mainstream media on Twitter, will it continue to be this way?  Mac owners are often the early adopters, those willing to try new things out.  Will the PC eventually take over Twitter?  It will be interesting to watch, and maybe in a few months I’ll try this SocialSurvey again.  I’ll try a few other questions I think after this – what would you like to learn about Twitter users that we could poll on SocialToo?

In the meantime, please check out Tweetie Desktop for the Mac!  It’s clean, elegant, and very worth the price.  You can read more of Louis Gray’s review of it here.