Tweet stream

Thursday 26 February 2009This is more than 14 years old. Be careful.

I saw this good quip on Twitter from Mark Pilgrim:

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll quote Jamie Zawinski.” Now they have two problems.

I know Mark’s writing from his blog, and so I was interested to see what else he tweets about. I went to look at his twitter stream, and found this sequence:

@cwilso With all previous datatypes, IE rendered them regardless of legal status. Now you say fonts deserve more “protection” than that. ...
12:39 PM Feb 16th from twidroid in reply to cwilso

@cwilso my point, which you’re avoiding, is that IE has no way to know if I’ve licensed a font. Or an image. Or a page design.
12:36 PM Feb 16th from twidroid in reply to cwilso

@cwilso seriously tho, IE let’s me save HTML, CSS, images, scripts, &c. And republish them. Matters of law are best left to lawyers.
5:55 PM Feb 15th from twidroid in reply to cwilso

@cwilso that’s true of every datatype. There’s something you’re not telling us. Does Lintotype have compromising pics of MS executives?
4:51 PM Feb 15th from twidroid in reply to cwilso

@cwilso so is html. Still not understanding why allowing unencrypted fonts on a network of text documents is disrespectful and disappointing
10:55 PM Feb 14th from twidroid in reply to cwilso

@nelson wmf is code. Vml is code. Vbscript is code! Why are fonts special? Foundries still think they’re selling shaped bits of metal.
8:47 PM Feb 14th from twidroid in reply to nelson

@cwilso don’t know what you’re referring to. also don’t know why fonts are so special. will IE9 only display DRM’d images? what’s the diff?
4:46 PM Feb 14th from web in reply to cwilso

@cwilso Disappointed that MS missed an opportunity to let font creators learn how to make money in a digital age.
2:47 PM Feb 14th from web in reply to cwilso

This looks like a fascinating debate. Unfortunately, I can only see half of it. This is like that frustrating experience when your spouse is on the phone with someone interesting, you want to keep saying, “What’d he say?” so that you can be part of it.

I looked at cwilso’s twitter stream and saw the other half of the debate, but uncollated with Mark’s comments, and interwoven with new halves of debates that Chris was also conducting with a dozen other people. Useless.

Of course, no one is obliged to capture their interesting conversations so that the public and posterity has access to them, but making them sort of public like this is frustrating. You might as well conduct a debate by writing your points on Post-Its and throwing them into a stream, where people 200 yards further down can “enjoy” them.

I like twitter for the tossed off wit (see Mark’s above), and for “what are you doing?” updates. When people mistake it for the next great blogging tool, I’m disappointed.


About 15 min after I posted this, I got a tweet:

robertbrook @nedbat any use?

And it is useful. It links together the tweets with the tweets they are replies to (something doesn't do, odd). So now I can see the two halves zipped together. The debate is kind of sparse as you'd expect, but at least now I can see everything being said...

I figured I'd get pointers here, thanks!
I got frustrated with this exact same problem a while ago, so Nat and I build which lets you see multiple Twitter accounts on a combined timeline (and click @replies to add that user to the mix). It helps a bit.
I agree this is a problem, and TweeTree certainly helps. However even the TweeTree rendering is a bit hard to follow. The participants aren't really talking, they're lobbing bits of pseudo-speak (conversational pseudo-code) at eachother, over a period of several days. As you said, Ned, not the next great blogging tool.

@Simon: Fundamental problem with tweetersation is that it doesn't filter out tweets that aren't part of the exchange I'm interested in. Adding "diveintomark" and "cwilso" is a perfect example of this. cwilso is so chatty that 90% of what is shown isn't relevant to diveintomark. You need to hide any tweets that aren't sent directly to one of the people I've added to the conversation.
This is what I don't get about twitter. I think it's fine for one-off messages, but long conversations? First off... why do they think anyone else cares what they're talking about? It's like posting your IM log.... except half of it is on your blog and half of it is on the other guy's.

And why is this so revolutionary? I can post little bits to my blog from my phone, too. I just don't, because they're not interesting.... which is pretty much accurate for all twitter blogs.

Tweeter is like the bastard child of IM and blogging, and for some reason, people like it. It bugs the crap out of me. The only useful thing I've ever seen done with it is so-call live blogging a conference / speech / event and give a running commentary.

Can anyone fill me in on how twitter is actually a good and useful thing that can't just be done by posting to your own blog?
Have to agree with the broken discussion part.
It's nice for following people you're not in such close contact that you hang out in the same irc channel or IM with them constantly but not so distant that you have to wait for full-fledged blog postings (if they blog at all...)

IRC is like twitter with rwxrwx--- ;)
Absolutely. Totally. Agree. Unless you're *part* of a conversation, I don't think @ replies should be displayed at all, unless you then want the ability to follow the actual conversation.

In fact (thinking on my feet here), maybe you should be able to do a "hide conversation" a bit like in FriendFeed? Twitter can do this, because replies have a link to the actual tweet that is being replied to. You could ignore or see the whole conversation, rather than having to partly ignore it, while still being sort've interested.
The mental model of a big cocktail party discussion holds here. If you catch an interesting conversation ongoing, you can follow both parties and listen to the whole thing. It's just like walking over to stand with a couple new interlocutors.

On the other hand, people's stream pages are useful mainly when you're considering following them. It's not a good way to keep up with their conversations.

It's cool to see the links above, however, and find that people are keeping Twitter's low barrier to use (much faster than blogging), but finding ways to work around its concomitant limitations.
You're seeing part of Twitter, but I don't think you're done evaluating it yet. The ecosystem of clients, monitors, analyzers, graders etc. that are springing up around Twitter are still popping up daily. Twitter isn't interesting because of the set of features on; Twitter is interesting because of all the ways you can publish, read, slice, and dice.

That pointer you got to twittree is the sharp point of the argument I'm making. It doesn't matter what you want, someone's making a tool to do it already.
Facebook does a nice job of zipping the conversation together with "Wall-to-Wall". But only when you are "friends" with both parties of the conversation. Nice execution, though.
I'm a little late to the conversation, but have you tried for the query "diveintomark cwilso". There's a link to "Show Conversation" which I suspect gives what you want.

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