Tag Archives: web2.0

On Twitter Data

I’ve been getting various kinds of private communication about this, so it’s probably worth some commentary…

For some time now, I’ve been wondering when someone would start to use systems like Twitter as a way to deliver information between programs. A few weeks ago, Todd Fast, a colleague at Sun gave me a preview of what is now the Twitter Data proposal. Todd and Jiri Kopsa have done all the heavy lifting on this, so if you have substantive comments or requests, they are really the people you should be dealing with. They were kind enough to recognize me as a reviewer of their work, but the initial idea is theirs.

Twitter Data is a bit different than what I was envisioning. I was thinking more along the lines of jamming JSON or XML data into a Twitter message as a starting point for program level data exchange. That would allow us to leverage existing tools and libraries and make the entire thing straight forward. The interesting part, then, would be in the distribution network that arose from programs following other programs. This could also be embedded into a person’s Twitter feed by allowing clients to ignore tweet payloads that were structured data.

Twitter Data proposes a way to annotate the data oriented parts of a regular Tweet in order to make it easier for machines to extract the data. Some people think this is a good idea, and some people think it’s a terrible idea. It’s easy to see the arguments on both sides. Pro, is that you could turn your Tweet stream into a way to deliver information about you to programs, and that Twitter Data would make it that much easier to do. The Cons (that I’ve seen so far) are that people don’t want to have this kind of data exchange mixed into their Twitter stream, or that parsing the natural language that appears in the 140 characters of a tweet shouldn’t be that hard.

So we have two dimensions (at least) to the problem that Twitter Data is trying to address:

  1. Is it a useful thing to have structured or semi structured information about a person included in their Twitter feed?
  2. If so, should that data be out of band, mixed in, or extracted (natural language processing)?

Independent of the merits of the specific Twittter Data proposal (and I definitely think that there are merits), I think that these two questions are worth some discussion and pondering.

Olio – a web 2.0 benchmark?

So there’s a new project in the Apache Incubator called Olio. It’s a “toolkit that can be used to evaluate the suitability, functionality and performance of web technologies”. There are already implementations in Java, PHP, and Ruby on Rails. Here are some additional versions that I would like to see:

  • Django (Python)
  • Turbogears (Python)
  • Lift (Scala)
  • Seaside (Smalltalk)
  • Erlang
  • Clojure
  • Haskell
  • Common Lisp

If I’ve left out your favorite language, framework, feel free to add it in the comments. Or better yet, show up to the project with an implementation. Wide Finder this ain’t, but the results could still be pretty interesting.

Photo 2.0 – Photophlow

Last night, Scoble mentioned Photophlow on Twitter. I went over to see the site and then begged and pleaded for an invite – and got it. Photophlow is kind of like an IRC customized for dealing with Flickr photos. There is a global chat room, each user has his or her own chat room, and there is a chat room for every Flickr group. Within a chatroom, people can search Flickr photos and the room can follow along to see what they are searching. You can select photo out of the search, which will be transmitted to the room. There are some other features, like turning off the following of other people’s searches and turning off people’s ability to see what you searched for.

The Photo 2.0 angle
People like David Hobby and Chase Jarvis have been talking about (and living out) “Photography 2.0”, where there is massive sharing of photographs and photographic information. One of the things that I’ve often wished for is the ability to talk (in real time) to someone to get/do a critique of a photo. I think that this is something that happens best in real time. You could do that via IM and hyperlinks. You might even be able to do that via IM group chats, if all the people in the critique were using the same IM system. (It’s 2008, IM vendors). The value that I see in Photophlow is having a realtime way of talking about photos in a group. It would be even better if there was a way to annotate the photo being broadcast at the moment, so that you could focus attention on particular parts of a photograph. We’ve been doing some interesting group photo stuff here in Seattle lately, and I definitely think that Photophlow is something that could really help with some of the things we have done, as well as some of the things we are thinking of doing. Besides annotation tools, I would also like an easy way to log/archive a whole chat session or parts of a chat session.

The Web 2.0 angle
Photophlow is technically interesting for a number of reasons. It’s an app that’s built entirely on top of another web applications’ API. And it’s pretty substantial. There’s a lot going on here – a lot of AJAX, and API calls to Flickr. The app feels kind of pokey because it’s pushing the limits of what can be done in Javascript. Indeed, if I run Photophlow in Safari 3 instead of Firefox, the performance is noticeably better. This is a situation that we also see in Chandler Server. It’s going to be interesting to see how well this is able to scale up.

Photophlow is also pushing the limits of how some people think of using a web application. It’s designed to be used a lot and in a highly interactive fashion. I know that I would probably keep chat rooms for my personal group, the Seattle Flickr Meetups group, and the Strobist group open all at once if I could. The designers have also built in bridges to IM notification and to allow you to Twitter from within Photophlow. Too bad their isn’t a way to get a Twitter stream instead of an IM notification – but that’s more a limitation of Twitter than of Photophlow.

I bet that you could do some of what Photophlow does with a custom IRC bot. But I also bet that it would be substantially less accessible to people who are photographers first and computer users second (or third, or what have you). Then again, maybe here’s another opportunity for VOIP…

If you haven’t gotten into the beta yet, there’s a short tutorial video.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Dopplr should be looking over their shoulders

A few days ago I signed up for the new TripIt service. I didn’t have very high expectations, and I’ve already planned the rest of my trips for the year, namely my trip to ApacheCon. That trip was booked by a regular travel agent, and the form in which I got the documents was unlikely to be parseable by Tripit, so I just entered it by hand. I was really impressed by how much Tripit knew about my plane flight. I wish that it was similarly informed about my hotel. The itinerary management is pretty compelling for my uses.

There is also a social networking component to TripIt, which allows you to coordinate travel with other people, and you can generate a location stream and calendar feed. If TripIt can do what Doppr does, which is tell me who else will be in a location during the same time range, then I’d say that Dopplr should be pretty worried. Actually according to the TripIt blog, they are planning to do just that. They are also planning to do restaurants, which means that they might be able to act as a kind of evite/renkoo for groups of people looking for restaurants to eat at while traveling together. Yow. Call that the “Greg Stein feature”.

Open source peeps and Dopplr

People working in open source have limited opportunities to meet each other in person. My own experience is that meeting someone in person, even if it is only once, can be a help in working with them in the virtual world. The Dopplr service is a social networking application oriented towards people who travel. I’m already using it to find out who is going to at OSCON and ApacheCon US later this year. Meeting folks from various open source communities in person has been an enriching experience for me, and I’m glad to have help at making that easier.

Let me know if you want a Dopplr invite.