May 6, 2009
Gina Trapani hits on what might turn out to be Twitter’s killer feature:
When you post a question on Twitter and get a dozen replies within the next 10 minutes from actual humans–some of whom you know and trust–it’s waay better than impersonal Google search results.
If about.com shows you what random dudes think, Wikipedia shows you what nobody in particular thinks, and Google shows you what everybody thinks, Twitter shows you what the people you trust think. Who needs Wolfram Alpha or the semantic web when you’ve got real, live people whom you can ask complicated open-ended questions? You can keep the wisdom of crowds — I’ll take the wisdom of MY crowd.
The only trouble with this is that the answers stay bottled up in the little group. Google might not have the personal touch, but at least everyone can benefit from it.
But wait; Trapani’s got you covered:
After 1,700 posts and two years on Twitter, this insta-Q&A is my favorite use of the service–except I always want to share what I learn from my followers, and it’s not easy. My post on what people love and hate about netbooks, sourced entirely from Twitter replies, took me hours to compile manually, because Twitter doesn’t easily list replies to a particular “tweet” in a very readable or republishable format. So this weekend I dug into the service’s API to make that happen. Using Kevin Makice’s new book, Twitter API: Up and Running, after just a day of coding I had my entire Twitter archive plus replies ready for viewing and publishing.
I like that this is the complete opposite of what Robin did with his Twitter feed a couple of months ago — not least because it shows that while the basic principle of Twitter is extraordinarily simple, the implementations of it are varied enough to be tremendous.
What we need now, though, are Twitterhacks for the rest of us! Most of us don’t have a day to devote to coding this stuff, even if we knew how to code in the first place. We need an ecosystem of smart implementations and variations that build on this simple infrastructure. We need these more than 101 different spiffy backgrounds or client apps.
So… what happens next?