On Twitter…

Twitter has actually just recently gotten a lot of traction in Sweden and Scandinavia. Google Trends show this clearly which means that a Swedish blog-post about Twitter is still sort of relevant :)

What is Twitter? Well, it’s a micro blog. Users post so called tweets, messages with 140 characters or less. You can tweet, follow peoples tweets and search. That’s basically it. And this is cool why?

Keep yourself updated

For me, one of the key features of Twitter is that there are really interesting people twittering. If you go to WeFollow you’ll find people like Kevin Rose, Tim O’Reilly and Guy Kawasaki in the tech segment. Since they are active this means that you are able to listen to feeds from some of the, in their fields, most updated people. And Twitter is basically full of fantastic people to follow… like Chris Hughes (http://twitter.com/chews), less followed but equally interesting, who’s Twitter Bio says “I was the one of first to hack the iPhone. BOOOM'”… In short, nothing is stopping anyone from evolving their web presence and getting people to follow them.

Before Twitter everyone knew people that where islands of new knowledge; people that seemed to have one ear to the ground and hear the most interesting things. With Twitter, these guys and girls broadcast their nuggets of information to the world, effectively building their personal brand and enabling everyone to listen to them. All of the sudden you have the opportunity to be as updated as these people are. Not only that, since you have the possibility to listen to multiple islands at once you can get a perspective of the entire world of islands…

Ok, there are great people to follow, and they share information, great links and insight, but this all sums up to a lot of information. Yes! In this day and age you have to accept a certain degree of white noise if you want to hear interesting signals… deal with it. Luckily there are plenty of tools to help you deal with it. I use TweetDeck on my Mac, but there are tons of tools out there…

The Twitter API

The Twitter API is in my opinion is one of the most obvious reasons for Twitter success. It is an open API which anyone can use to create applications that uses Twitter data… and it’s silly simple, especially if you use the Java API java-twitter. The following is what is needed to login a user and print their friends timeline (the stream of tweets from people a person follows):

public void printFriendsTimeline(String username, String password) throws TwitterException{
	Api api = new Api();
	api.setCredentials(username, password);
	Status[] userTimeline = api.getFriendsTimeline();
	for (Status status : userTimeline) {
		System.out.println(status.getUser().getName() + ":" + status.getText());

This means that anyone can do just about anything with the Twitter data. Your basic level of allowed requests is 100 request per hour and IP, but if your application is request-intensive you can ask Twitter for more and get up to 20.000 requests per hour and IP. Of course this has created a flora, or even an entire ecosystem, of applications and implementations where you can tweet, watch statistics, see the most tweeted links and everything you can imagine (just check out this list).

Some tweeting advice

Not that I’m an authority on this, but I still wanted to end with some advice on tweeting:

1. Create good content that you think people want to read. Did you published a blog post? Tweet about it. Going to a conference? Tweet about it. Did you find a new interesting framework? Tweet about it. Got a new fantastic insight? Tweet about it.

2. #tag your tweets. If you tweet “Just found out about this great API http://tr.im/hr8S” end it with describing #tags like this “Just found out about this great API http://tr.im/hr8S #java #dev #twitter” to make it searchable and to add more context.

3. Re-tweet/RT when you read a good tweet. RT is a user derived notation which is used when forwarding tweets. If you get “Jayway.com is a great company!” from me and love it you simply write “RT @mattiasask : Jayway.com is a great company!”. Applications like TweetDeck also help you with this…

4. Try to get re-tweeted if you want to spread you tweets. A tweet can travel by RT from social graph to social graph and reach a lot of people that way. Read Guy Kawasakis’ blog on how to get retweeted (http://blogs.openforum.com/2009/02/18/how-to-get-retweeted/) for more on this.

/Mattias Ask, @mattiasask

PS. I have to add cool thing about Twitter and the speed of updates, something Twitter co-founder Evan Williams talked about at TED this year. During the California forest fires in -07 Twitter followers where more updated about where the fires spread than the people listing to the traditional media sources where. Why? Because people in the actual areas where the fire spread were tweeting about it from their cellphones…

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anders Nawroth

    Have you tried Twitter4j as well? I used it recently, worked well and seems more mature.

  2. Mattias Ask

    Nope. I’ve only played around with java-twitter, but I will certainly try Twitter4j as well :) Thanks!

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