Tweetmeme

Mike Butcher reports on TechCrunch UK about Tweetmeme, a new UK based service which provides updates as to what the hot discussions are on Twitter. A Techmeme for microbloggers, if you will. Having had a look at it this morning, much of the conversation being tracked is around Tweetmeme itself, though the new WordPress Twitter clone theme Prologue is making waves too. This will be an interesting service to track, to see what conversations I might be missing out on.

As Mike says:

Tweetmeme looks for new content and tracks who else is talking about it. It ranks the content based upon who and how much a particular item is being discussed. As anyone knows, the number of URLs which spread virally through Twitter each day must run into the millions, so tracking where that viral trail starts and gains momentum is going to be fascinating. It also categorises the content into blogs / videos / images and audio. Sure there are other Twitter aggregators like Politweets (politics), TweeterBoard (conversation analytics) and many others. But Tweetmeme has a few other features including a ‘river’ of new content and RSS feeds for the river (or categorized feeds for blogs / videos / images / audio). In addition Fav.or.it will integrate Tweetmeme into its API so you’ll be able to comment on blog posts through Tweetmeme.

Prologue – WordPress based distributed Twitter

prologue Matt Mullenweg has announced over on the WordPress.com blog that Automattic, the company behind WP.com, Akismet and the driving force behind WordPress development, have created a new theme for WordPress. Whoopie-do, you might be thinking. But this theme is more than just a look and feel for your WordPress blog. This theme clones Twitter. To quote the post:

Basically how it works is when someone has the ability to post to a blog they see a short form at the top of the home page with a post box and tags. There they can post short messages about what they’re doing.

Below the posting box is a list of everyone’s latest tweet or message, with their Gravatar next to it. You can click on an author to see all their messages, or a tag to see all of the messages in a given tag (which we use for projects). There are RSS feeds for everything: the entire prologue, each author, each tag, and even combination or searches can be subscribed to in your RSS reader.

How incredibly excellent. I’ve been after a clone of Twitter for a while, and to be able to combine it with my beloved WordPress is just awesome. I’m already putting something together to make use of this!

Twitterific

Twitter is becoming an indispensable tool for me – albeit one I didn’t know I needed until I started using it in a big way. I guess that as with a lot of these social networking type utilities, Metcalfe’s law applies – the more people use it, the more useful it is. Now I am following a number of people, and them tuning into my updates, suddenly I can’t get enough of pinging little messages around: about what I am doing, or what I need to know, or how I can help others.

So what is Twitter? Well, it’s a ‘micro-blogging’ service. You’re limited to 160 characters per post. That limit is important, because it means you can use text messages from your mobile phone to update your status, and also to receive them from others.

As every good Web 2.0 service should, Twitter has released an API, meaning that others can building applications which ‘mashup’ Twitter with other services to make it more useful. A good example is Dave Winer‘s Twittergram, which lets you post short bursts of audio onto Twitter; or hashtags, which allows people to post on, and follow memes through Twitter.

Dan York has an excellent post on the ways he uses Twitter. I’ve quoted his headings below:

    1. Twitter as News Source
    2. Twitter as Knowledge Network
    3. Twitter as Virtual Water Cooler
    4. Twitter as a way to stay up-to-date with friends
    5. Twitter as a Travelogue
    6. Twitter to Track Conferences
    7. Twitter as a PR/marketing Tool
    8. Twitter as a Learning Tool
    9. Twitter as Fun
    10. Twitter as a Daily Lesson in Humility (and Brevity)

Today the service has had a little trouble though, and I blame Macworld. So many people will be sending Twitter updates from their mobile phones and laptops about the big breaking news from Steve Jobs’ keynote that the whole thing is under considerable strain. And Twitter isn’t the hardiest service at the best of times. More on this from Duncan Riley at Techcrunch. How hard would it be, I wonder, for some to just copy Twitter, but back it with sufficient infrastructure to actually work all the time?

Finally, a quick real world example of how Twitter can genuinely be helpful. Last week sometime, my good friend Steve Dale sent out a message requesting that someone suggest an example of a ‘shout box’ on a website. I responded within a few moments, giving a URL of a site where I had just added shoutbox functionality. Steve was in a meeting at the time, and those who were waiting for the shoutbox example were left open mouthed at the speed of this forum of communication and collaboration.

You can follow my latest Twitter updates in the widget on the left of this blog. Alternatively, join Twitter yourself and add me to your follow list!