Twitter is becoming increasingly popular and mainstream. We’ll go into some possible and slightly novel uses of Twitter to route the stream of communication to your site or blog. Twitters short message format creates a focused form of communication, but the tight limit enforces the increased use of shortened URLs, through services like bit.ly and tinyurl, creating an unnecessary layer of complexity while bringing some technical and semantic challenges along with it.
Create a view into the stream of communication
Twitter is becoming the main artery of micro-blogging and much of the communication and sharing is done within groups or tags (like this example on a trending topic of “Skittles”) which leads to categorized and up-to-date information. This increases the utility of searching Twitter as people all around are contributing and sharing.
Through smart queries (on Twitter Search) one can create “lenses” into the communication focusing on your topics of interest. Export this search result to a XML feed, and you have yourself a live stream of information, ready to lighten up any blog or web page. The chance of getting unrelated or malicious links into the feed is apparent, but it’s possible to filter on any number of authors (writers) using the “from” fields within Twitter Search.
You can also feed your newly written blog posts to Twitter in order to draw more attention and possible traffic using services like TwitterFeed.
Small URLs cause big problems
The 140 character limit of a Twitter post is a nice touch leading to a compact and to-the-point format of communication, however, the URLs attached should never have been counted towards this limit. The links should have been attached as meta data of the actual post, an easy addition to the service which would solve these issues. The ever increasing use of shorten-URL-services creates an unnecessary layer of complexity, and although a nice little hack, it makes it increasingly difficult to track the links within Twitter or other communities, requiring de-coding of these URLs to find the real URL.
To recap, we suggest that whenever using Twitter to post a message with a link, the link is simply extracted as metadata and thus not counted towards the message size limit. Removing the need for shortned URLs which creates an unnecessary layer of complexity and risk.
What if you were to search through twitter for everyone that’s tweeting about your blog post? How would you identify your blog URL within these immense data repositories? Even if you find every possible short-version of your blog URL; how would you go about searching for all posts from your blog-domain being twittered about? It’s impossible, because shorten-URL-services are removing your domain name and identity from the links created, you cannot search for partial URLs in order to find “everything” from yourblog.com. You would have to find every shortened version of every blog post URL, and them attempt to query.
What if one of these services were to fall flat to the pressure of capitalism and then shut down? Malfunctioning links would remain within Twitter and ever increasing search indexes. How do we go about de-coding these short-URLs at a later point? Should the code of these shortening sites be revealed? The service Tinyurl had downtime a while back, and the implications where discussed here and here. We also note that Tinyurl has a “alias” feature which allows you to manipulate the shortened URL, thus creating your own identity within it.
Thirdly, there is no way of separating a link from a trusted domain from potential malware links as discussed on spylogic.net.
Twitter is still new and attracts creative attention from bloggers and community members everywhere. We encourage your to participate on your blog or in a discussion right here, so that in time, the good can become great (like cake).