Archive for the 'ideas' Category

How I created a TwitterGroup for Gnomedex

twitbot.gifI see Dave has posted a few ideas that he’d like to be able to do with Twitter. His ‘use case #1’ is regarding the ability to subscribe to a kind of ‘reading list’ of people at a conference. Good idea! TwitterGroups are what we need! πŸ™‚

So, while I was at Gnomedex, I wanted a way to track tweets (that’s Twitter posts, for the uninitiated ;p ) from others at the conference who were also on Twitter. A show of hands from the audience showed there were a LOT of us πŸ˜‰ Naturally, I don’t want to have to follow every user and see everypost/tweet from them – I just want the ones relevant to the conference.

Having got the idea of how to do it in my head in the first morning session, I hacked it together quite quickly during the lunchbreak. It’s based very much like my Urban Dictionary ‘TwitterBot’ which will go and search for the (urban) meaning of a word, at the command of any follower.

So, here’s how I did it:
1. First, I set up an account, called @gnomenet

2. Then I set up a simple database table in MySql with a ‘status_id’ column and a ‘screen_name’ column.

3. I then invited people to ‘follow’ that account and instructed the followers to start a post withΒ  ‘gd’ if they wanted their tweet to appear in the ‘group’ timeline – if they had something to say about the conference.

4. Then, I had a PHP script set on an automated cronjob to poll the followers.xml for the gnomenet account.Β  The followers.xml file always has the latest tweet from each follower, also providing the status(tweet) id and the follower’s screen name. It polled the followers.xml file once a minute, which is under Twitter’s API limit of 70 per hour.

5. When the script sees ‘gd’ at the start of a follower’s tweet, it then adds the screen_name and status_id to the database table. Then it sends that Tweet to the @gnomenet account after removing ‘gd ‘ from the start. This is easily done using Twitter’s very simple API.

6. The next time the script polls the followers.xml file, if it sees the same user posting the same thing (it compares each status_id with existing records in the database) it says to itself “this user already said that!” and ignores it.

7. If the follower does not have gd at the start of the Tweet, then the script goes and deletes from the database table any post from that user/screen_nameΒ  – ie: mostly, there is nothing to delete, as people don’t post to it all the time.

Doing this keeps the database table clean and compact. It worked pretty well for 52 followers! I wonder how many them were not even there at the conference! πŸ™‚

This has a load of potential uses for TwitterBot automation and TwitterGroup creation, though I’m sure there might be a more graceful way of doing this. Happy to hear more ideas

Gnomedex was GREAT fun again – this was my third. But I have to say, I’m looking forward to the possibility of ‘GnomeStock‘ ;p

Ask Urban Dictionary (via Twitter)

Well, here’s my first go at a kind of TwitterBot. πŸ˜‰

http://twitter.com/dictionary

Ask for the definition of a word from the Urban Dictionary via your Twitter account. It’s easy!

First when signed in to your Twitter account, go to the twitter.com/dictionary page and ‘add dictionary’ to your list. This will add you as a ‘follower’ of the dictionary system.

To request a definition, all you do is post to Twitter :

@dictionary word

[at dictionary space word] – where ‘word’ is the word you’re looking up πŸ˜‰

It’s not too great on multiple words but some work.

THEN WAIT for your reply. It will only take a couple of minutes, as the system checks for requests every couple of minutes (for now)

If you post another Tweet before getting your reply, it will miss it out.

Note that as a ‘follower’ you will also see all the other requests too from other people. So you might need to leave and add as you need to. See how things go. It can be pretty funny πŸ˜‰

Have fun! πŸ˜‰

UPDATE : More discussion from Dave WinerΒ 

More Twittering…

I see that Scripting News has been thinking of Twitter. I’m surprised at the reaction from someone who usually see so much potential in simple things.

UPDATE : More discussion from Dave Winer

At first, I thought – “so what’s so great about this Twitter thing?” – it’s just blogging with just titles. One-liners. With contact lists. Aggregation of those contacts’ one-liners. And an SMS communication layer to distribute those short messages away from the desktop…without the internet.

oh, hang on.. πŸ™‚ — hmm…aha!

To me, it’s the SMS layer to mobiles which makes this interesting. It’s very easy to duplicate – but not so easy to pay for. But SMS ‘can’ make a lot of money (but for who, eh? *nudge*)

The actual content back end must be very simple indeed – but no idea about what they are doing with scaling that, but it seems to get better and worse now again, which means they are constantly tweaking it I imagine.

They say they will be adding groups. This is a good idea, as it will extend what users can do privately – and that means it could be used for businesses.

Also, through the very simple API it’s easy to build stuff on top of the comms framework they have there. Some useful. Some for fun.

Some sites have started to ‘ping’ their TwitterBots (which have no friends – as they don’t read – but many followers) with the latest updates to their systems – Techmeme, BBC, CNN, Podcast.com, etc. – It’s a little river of news, mashed up with commentary, streams of consciousness – and the mundane. I have a little function on my server, using PHP and Curl to ‘Tweet’ me from a special account when something goes wrong.

I’m toying with couple of usernames which I am ‘Sqwitting‘ (That’s username squatting on Twitter, folks) which I plan to make respond to certain calls and queries after any user who the ‘befriended’ the account calls using @question or @answer – which has now become the de facto way to openly reply to another one of your friends. It’s easy to list recent posts from friends with the API, so why not get it to ‘look’ for @name calls? *Bingo!* It’s like a machine!

There are heaps of combinations of feeds – in different formats – to play with and construct all sorts of useful things – all with that very handy SMS layer πŸ™‚ It won’t be long before someone builds something very useful based on this system. But only when it’s reliable and faster! πŸ™‚

Rex Hammock quotes a great line from Joi Ito on how Americans, when looking at new technology immediately ask, β€œWhat’s the business application?” In Japan, however, new technology is handed to children who are told, β€œGo play with it.” The kids play and do stuff that later becomes things that others realize would make sense also in a business context.

Great stuff!

Bloghud is Twitter on Acid in a Virtual World πŸ™‚ Think what will happen to Twitter when we can easily add our Geo location latitude and longitude! (Still waiting for my Nokia N95 πŸ˜‰ )

In addition

(and I think this is important)

I think that they should Open Source the main Twitter server system structure NOW. Before it gets cloned all over the place. (As happened with YouTube, etc)

All except the SMS layer. There is a huge potential business model in then creating that connection between all the various ‘TwitterPlanets’ in the ‘TwitterVerse’ to that SMS layer to enable that which is most valuable – staying in touch with the network while away from the desk or internet using a device most of us already have in our pockets.

The potential here and NOW is huge. They could wrap this up. Think of all the extra features that could come from it. Think of all the useful ‘special agent bots’ – each with different abilities from different (Twitter)planets. How that could also help the ‘mother hub’ itself. It’s almost a model of what will happen when Linden opensource their Server system. The universe, metaverse and Twitterverse will benefit.

What do you think?

Dana Gardner Has Second Thoughts

What makes Second Life eerily powerful is the zero-distance between thinkers and technology by ZDNet‘s Dana Gardner (and the ‘Briefings Direct’ podcast)– There is an egalitarian equalizing effect when your avatar IMs with another … even if you know who they are. There’s a comfort level with being virtual, and the IBMers seemed eager to chat with lots of folks. I can see getting better access to executives and the creative minds at IBM in Second Life than I do in real life, and that’s a good thing.

—–

He’s right. But people also said that the internet and computers themselves take away a certain amount of the human experience too. I was told this ever since I fell in love with ‘playing’ on a computer as a child. I was told I was wasting my time and ‘missing out’. I sat and thought that I was seizing an opportunity to learn about these things, as we’d soon be surrounded by them everywhere we went. Whether for business or pleasure.

Then, when the Web and interent came along, I immediately connected and communicated with people all around the world (this totally blew my mind). Some of these people have become good friends who I go to stay with, or vice versa, in the ‘real world’.

Communication like this is so unbelievably powerful and incredibly resourceful, it almost brings a tear to my eye. Just about all the fundamental knowledge in various programming languages I know came from information from people on the internet, directly or indirectly. (I owe them all big time – and try to share knowledge back to this new ‘community resource’ as much as possible – and more in the future, in a more structured way).

I was invited to this IBM event too. Who me? Little old me? Sat at home on a computer? Yes. Me. How cool is that!? Unfortunately I couldn’t make it. We know the world is round, but sometimes we forget the time differences in a global forum. πŸ˜‰

I had the pleasure of having lunch with Dana back in the summer too. All through connections made through work, which in themselves are a product of my online world. A great, smart guy. A pleasure to talk to.

Second Life provides us with a feeling of ‘proximity’ to people we communicate with and gesture to. It’s hard to explain. It’s not like the odd feeling you get having a video conference with someone, where you look into the camera or not. It kind of feels more natural in a virtual world. (For me, anyway)

This platform is so powerful it must not be ignored. The interfaces will become more stable and realistic as time goes by. The landlord of the metaverse of the future might not be Linden Lab. It could be you. It could be the person sat next to you. Whoever it is, I promise you it’s not going to go away. It’s going to get BETTER.

Embrace it. You will thank yourself for it in the future. And who knows, you might actually make some money and new friends and have some fun on the way! πŸ˜‰

Live From Second Life

I can’t promise this will be on all the time, as it was a quick test idea that I have thought about for a few months and got round to doing once I got more memory for the MacMini (running Windows).

Let’s see how this holds up – this blog doesn’t get many readers, so off you go! All ten eleven of ya πŸ˜‰

Welcome to Second Life LIVE

Apple iPhone details surfacing

Analysis about Apple’s much anticipated iPhone is here.

But the question I want answering which I think will help define this device is: What will be the default ringtone? πŸ˜‰ Be prepared – once this baby comes out, you’re sure to hear it alot (despite the predicted ability to play an mp3 as your ringtone, natch)

Also on Apple, Wired has a great article about the birth of the iPod.

How Microsoft could win the portable player game

I think this looks like a great product.

I hope it can read an RSS feed directly over that WiFi (like a PSP can)! So I can download podcasts too, over the connection (like PSP can).

As well as wifi connectivity (for download) the killer app, for me, would be the ability to record AND upload too. This could be based on something like Nokias old uploader api (which was very easy to implement in any scripting language). Or a simple/simplified ftp client.

If they (MS) offered storage too, along with their desktop client/shop/aggregator based on the account, then they would have it all wrapped up.

Location agnostic consuming and publishing – desktop or mobile device – listening, viewing, subscribing etc. All synced up the next time the device links to the desktop. Full of real statistics, linkage and relevance.

Bingo! You’d have it all.

THEN if your reading AND writing/publishing tools support the core content and organisation XML standards for podcasts of RSS and OPML, PLUS additional support for microformats such as FOAF etc AND OTHER community APIS (though this could be done by any developer community or group of widgetwelders)

If Microsoft did this, they would win – imho

By ‘closing the content loop’ (by effectively flipping one end and connecting it to the other) – publish to receive : AND discover/navigate : subscribe , it would be like APple where things ‘seem’ to be locked in, they wuold have the opportunity to turn the whole network inside out, exposing all the data needed – all the ‘neural’ connections – all the paths, all the people and all the content.

This would ‘connect’ the owners of such devices to eachother, creating the community feel, but also prove they are not going to create a ‘walled garden’ of content – for devices that don’t know (much) about anything else.

[given that i am talking about ‘open’ podcasts here – user generated (argh) – as opposed to music/video/protected shopping/purchases with their own DRM.]

You don’t have to be able to read the ZUNESTONES to see it. Do you?
================
ps: When are Google or Yahoo! going to produce a device? They should! πŸ˜‰

pps: people who know me personally, will know that I am a huge love love and passionate user of gadgets. I have been on this crusade for a while. πŸ˜‰


Who is this ‘kosso’ anyway?

I am a 'Createc'. A creative technologist, entrepreneur/ hacker/ geek. Worked on building things on the web for over 12 years.

Used to work at BBC News interactive and created the publishing and delivery systems for video news to get distributed on huge screens in major railway stations around the country.

I left the BBC to become CTO / sole-lead architect/developer at podcast.com for three years.

I have now left them to build a start up a new system called 'Phreadz', which is a 'Social Multimedia Conversation Network', integrating everything that is 'V.I.T.A.L' to us on the web. Video, Images, Text, Audio and Links.

I built the whole thing my myself. I programmed every line of code and positioned every pixel. I'm looking forward to attracting an hiring new members of the team to help me out! :)

There are currently over 1000 happy and helpful beta testers on the system so far and one client of a white-labelled solution.



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