Posts from the Twitter category

Make Your Own Tweet Cloud

New site creates a word cloud from your Twitter feed.

There's a great new Twitter service called Tweet Clouds, that will make a word cloud out of your Twitter timeline.  Here's mine: @colbypalmer's TweetCloud It's neat to see which words jump out. Some are obvious (iTweet, iPhone) but I am surprised at the weight of a couple words ("new" is one of the biggest words, I don't know what that's all about).  It also shows the people that I converse with the most and that's kind of cool to see. I also like that "love" and "lt3" are right next to each other - "lt3" being how Tweet Clouds reads "less-than-three" <3 hearts. TweetCloudsThis is an inventive and useful way of analyzing the content of your Twitter posts.  Kudos to John Krutsch for the scripting and Jared Stein for the design. You can see my full-size Tweet Cloud here. You can follow my Twitter updates here, my Twitter handle is @colbypalmer.

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Twittory: The Darkness Inside

Twittory: An "Exquisite Corpse" story - Twitter style!

Internal mechanisms began making adjustments. Muscle relaxants, serotonin. What to calm her mind? Focus...her son, where had they taken him?
This was my 140-character contribution to Twittory #1, "The Darkness Inside".  This is a Twitter-based Exquisite Corpse story written in 140 sentences of 140 characters or less (this is the amount of space allotted to a tweet). Fun idea! The story so far has elements of mystery, action, science fiction, humor and romance.  Also blood, swearing, kissing, treachery, and time travel.  And Lou Reed. Twittories are a production of The Podcast Network, and the game was begun by Cameron Reilly of the "G'Day World" podcast. My sentence is number 54, which I entered sometime around December 22. Right now the game is up to number check back in March or April to read the final product!

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Walking Tall in Hot Couture

The VonStilt family featured on Boing Boing TV!

Firefighters, models in flaming pasties and blowtorch antlers, hot contortionists, and geisha stiltwalkers all gathered for a fire-themed fashion show at The Crucible in Oakland. Xeni was there, and brings back this report.
My friend Megan Murray was interviewed (as Peekaboo VonStilt) by Xeni Jardin for BoingBoing TV! Her stilt walking troupe, the VonStilt Family, have been entertaining the masses for a while now and they deserve some attention. Go BoingBoing! This "Hot Couture" fire and fashion show at The Crucible in Oakland looks like it was amazing. I was not able to go and it looks like I really missed out! Click here to watch the original on boingboing. There are also some great pictures here on Flickr. Leave comments on this blog, or let's talk on Twitter or Facebook.

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Tracking vs. #Hashtags

Twitter's tracking feature is great. #Hashtags would complement it well.

Twitter just introduced a new method of "tracking" keywords - enter "track keyword" in SMS or IM and you will receive notifications whenever someone uses that keyword in a tweet. Right now it's only available via IM or SMS notifications, but they say it will eventually come to the API etc. I've been using it for a couple days and I think it's a very cool addition. I've also been very interested in Chris Messina's suggestions for using #hashmark tag channels similar to what you can find in Jaiku (and IRC I think). The "tracking" feature provides a similar service but they are slightly different and I can see a great reason for both to exist. Here is my take on the difference between the two:

Twitter Tracking:

  • involuntary
  • results are broader and less contextual
  • great for customer service, marketing, vanity
  • automatically removes anonymity (can't opt out of tracking searches)
  • no "on-board" archiving
  • present tense only (cannot track past tweets)


  • voluntary
  • items are intentionally tagged so results are higher quality
  • great for networking, community, research
  • anonymity is removed by knowing participation
  • creates public archive
  • can search Twitterstream into the past
While Twitter's new tracking feature is very cool (and useful), being able to search into the past would be really nice. Having the info tagged and archived (by those who wished to participate, of course) would be great too. Also being able to narrow the searches by username (ie search colbyworld#iphone) would be nice. I hoped even just "tracking" a #tagged word would have some good results - just to experiment I used "track #bacn" today. I received notifications for "#bacn", but also for "bacn" (without the hashmarks) it seems that Twitter doesn't even recognize the syntax. I thought that was odd. I think it would be best (for all) if tagchannels were implemented natively in Twitter. It would make the archiving and tracking function portable across the Web instead of confining it to a particular client etc. I don't want to wait for that; the tools are there, and there is definitely a way to make #hashtags work in a third-party I'm going to try to add it to my iPhone app. (It's on the list, anyway.) As a maker of Twitter Web software, from a customer service standpoint tracking is way cool. I track "iTweet" and then I get notified whenever someone talks about it. Naturally people Twitter about it, right? So I've gotten lots of helpful feedback from that... "Love it." "It sucks." "It's really fast." "It's too slow". "It works great but it's ugly." "It doesn't work well but at least it looks great." OK, maybe it's been a little less than helpful. It has been interesting though! But I digress... To me the most interesting question is: does anyone have a proposal for a way to pull TagChannel-like features out of Twitter's new tracking method? Maybe it doesn't actually track the #pound sign but perhaps another syntax could be used. It would ruin all the efforts to date by Chris Messina and Stowe Boyd in hashtagging all their tweets for quite a while now, but perhaps there's another tagging method we can use to leverage what Twitter has given us? Please leave your thoughts in the comments! Also, please follow me on Twitter (I'm @colbypalmer) and we can carry on the conversation in real time! Update: There is a great post about this topic at Stowe Boyd's website, with comments from Mr. Messina here. Update 2: has built an app that indexes all hashtagged tweets, AS LONG AS the user using the #hashtag is following the hashtags bot. Follow @hashtags on Twitter and start using #hashtags today! Update 3: You can now use #hashtags and search all of Twitter using my web and iPhone app, Now you can click on #hashtags (they appear in green) and see all posts using that tag!

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My Twitter Life Cycle

The way I tweet has changed as I learn the ropes.

My use of Twitter has changed over time, as has my enjoyment of it. I had idly been making some notes about it, inspired by a thoughtful post from A Bite Of Sanity, and then today a Twitter question from Chris Brogan made me decide to post it. Examples here are real tweets from my timeline: 1. Newbie - figuring out if it's OK to jump in and follow people I don't know. Will they yell at me? 2. Stalker - You mean I can hear what John Gruber and Eric Meyer are saying? And I don't have to come up with something intelligent to say back? Sweet! In this stage I didn't make many tweets, just followed a ton of people and watched the tweets roll by. 3. Shy Kid At The Party - making awkward observational statements, hoping someone will start a conversation. It didn't work, as I wasn't really offering much of real value. Example: "Going to see Spiderman 3" 4. Self-Promoter - talking endlessly about the projects I'm working on, attempt at self-marketing I guess ... But this doesn't invite 2-way communication, and it didn't improve my Twitter experience at all. Example: "Back to work on" 5. Twitter Software Developer - as a developer of a Twitter-based web app, I use Twitter to field feature requests, or even to REQUEST feature requests. I find that there are so many different types of Twitter users that it's entirely possible I overlook aspects of my product that I don't consider important because I personally don't use it. So being in close contact with the community of my users is invaluable - and kind of fascinating as the users have helped me refine the product so much throughout its own life cycles. For example, this weekend I found myself with some extra time to work on iTweet, and posted a question about what could be improved. I received some very helpful notes from a couple users; their requests are answered now, the product is better...and everybody is happy. Fantastic. Example: "Planning some feature adds to iTweet. Any users out there with feature requests?" 6. Twitter Community Participant - This is a stage I only recently entered. I started to find a groove of which people were worth following, which were spam or garbage etc...and which people were interested in conversation, which ones I had things in common with, etc. Conversations begin at this point. This is the stage where I started to really love Twitter. @username replies pepper my timeline more and more from this point, about two months from the beginning. I started having conversations with people and getting to know them from the experience of reading their short posts over a long period of time. (This concept is worthy of another post at another time.) I was getting the in-jokes and the lingo, and feeling comfortable speaking my mind. I also occasionally ask questions to design riddles, or ask for input on iTweet, or ask a general life question...and I get answers from people, and usually I am pointed in the right direction or get helpful advice. It's awesome. There have been a couple times where I felt like I put my foot in my mouth, but these are growing pains of any social media learning curve. At this point I feel like I have some new pals, some people to bounce ideas off of, and this is neat; I don't have many friends that speak geek, so it's nice to be able to have these kind of conversations. I think there are other stages of Twitter use; the medium is so flexible that people use it in many different ways. Some users pound out the tweets faster than I can follow sometimes, whether they are single thoughts or questions (Chris Brogan) or longer philosophical commentary (Eric Rice). Some wire their blog or tumblelog feeds into their Twitterstream (this is kinda annoying, I won't name anyone but you know who you are). Some wait until they have something really funny or poignant or useful to say and only tweet once or twice a day (Merlin Mann). Does a different kind of Twitterer come to your mind? Let's start a list. Leave your Twitter personality type in the comments!

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