Tag Archives: Twitter

What makes online posts feel “permanent?”

Facebook is testing a feature to hide new posts from your timeline so they don’t feel so permanent. Of course they’re still searchable until you actually delete them, so they’re still permanent in that sense.

What’s odd: Facebook posts don’t feel permanent to begin with, even though they effectively stick around forever.

Thinking about it, two things make an internet post feel permanent to me:

  1. Can I count on it sticking around?
  2. Can I count on finding it again?

Facebook, despite a lot of improvements over the years, is a mess. The newsfeed algorithm means you can’t just keep scrolling back. The timeline view isn’t reliably complete. Search is kind of a crap shoot. Don’t get me started on trying to find a particular old post on Twitter!

And that’s dealing with sites I can expect to stay online over time. A post on a forum, or a comment on someone else’s blog, or any social network could easily vanish in someone’s server crash or business shutdown.

If I can’t count on being able to find what I post a few years down the line, it feels like it’s temporary, even if it isn’t.

This is one reason that my Flickr portfolio feels more permanent than my Instagram photos: I can find them without resorting to third-party apps. If I want to find a particular photo on Instagram, I have to page down through my profile until I find it. On Flickr, I can find a 10-year-old photo of a fountain in seconds by searching for “fountain” and expanding the “Your photos” section of the results.

Then again, running my own site is only reliable as long as I can afford it. If something happens to me, and I can’t pay for hosting anymore, what then? I figure I’d simplify things down to where I could get a basic, super-cheap hosting plan. Make the blogs read-only so they can be served statically from a shared server or S3 bucket, or move them to WordPress.com, or just be willing to let them crash under load. But what if I’m incapacitated and can’t convert it? Or just plain not there anymore? If I really want to keep my corner of the web up “permanently,” I’m going to have to make a plan ahead of time.

Otherwise my carefully preserved photos, articles, and extended musings will be toast…leaving behind as context only broken links and all my supposedly (but not really) ephemeral offhand remarks on Twitter and Facebook.

I “Liked” Twitter Favorites

It shouldn’t make any difference that Twitter renamed Favorites★ as Likes♥. It’s a coat of paint. But labels do matter. Just like “friend” and “follower”, “like” and “favorite” (and hearts and stars) conjure up different expectations.

Twitter says, “You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.” Paradoxically, I find “likes” to be more specific. The star-and-favorite model comes out of Internet Explorer*, and modern browsers still use stars for bookmarks. This made “favorite” seem a little more versatile, anything from a stamp of approval to a simple check-back-for-later.

“Like,” on the other hand….

After years of requests for a “dislike” button, Facebook finally admitted that “like” isn’t sufficient to respond to everything, and will be expanding to multiple reaction buttons. I know Twitter keeps trying to be more like Facebook, but c’mon — even Facebook knows people don’t want to “like” sad news.

*Microsoft didn’t want to call their bookmarks “bookmarks.” Nobody wanted to use the same terminology as anyone else back then. They tried to call links “shortcuts” too.

Delicious, Twitter, and Linkblogging

The classic link-sharing site Delicious is still around, trying to find a niche in the new social media world. One of the things they’ve recently done is set up a way to import all links you post on Twitter. It does a historical import when you link the account, and then pulls in new tweets going forward.

It’s a cool idea, depending on how you use the sites, and they’ve made it just flexible enough that anyone who might want to do this in the first place will find a way to match their use case.

In my case, I mainly used Delicious as an additional bookmark store that I could access across browsers and accounts, though for the most part that’s been replaced by Xmarks. I haven’t used it as much for deliberate sharing, though I’ve posted the occasional link in the hopes that someone might notice it.

Anyway, I linked it up with my personal Twitter account, left the site for a few hours, then came back to see just how far back it had imported. It went back about 3 years, pulling in over 1,000 links that I’d posted to Twitter.

The Good:

  • It merges duplicates.
  • Links are backdated to the day you posted the tweet.
  • All imported links are tagged with “from twitter” (you can change this), making it easy to filter.
  • Hashtags are imported as tags.
  • The text of your tweet becomes the comment.
  • It extracts titles and thumbnail images from the links.
  • It can follow some redirectors, including Twitter’s own t.co.

The Bad:

  • It doesn’t follow all redirectors. There are an awful lot of bit.ly and is.gd links in there.
  • That also means that if I tweeted the same link twice using different link shorteners, it doesn’t resolve the duplicates.
  • A lot of those links were only of short term interest.
  • Three years is plenty of time for a redirector (or, of course, a target link) to shut down. Fortunately, it looks like I didn’t use tr.im much.
  • My blog automatically tweets links to new posts, which means every post I’ve made in the last three years is in there – the earliest with an is.gd or tinyurl link, the later ones with bit.ly. I don’t need those in my own bookmarks (with a few exceptions), and as far as sharing goes, it makes me feel spammy to plug three years’ worth of backlist at once.
  • Searching for links gives you less-functional results than simply looking at your list or filtering by tag. Not all details appear on the results page, bulk actions aren’t available, and you can’t always delete a link if you edit it from search results. This meant I couldn’t, for instance, search for “New post” or “K-Squared Ramblings,” skim the titles and bulk-delete the bookmarks to my own content.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been taking a few minutes here and there to go through what started as 60 pages’ worth of imported links, delete the ones I don’t want to keep and fix up the ones I do. It started out faster than my last Twitter-related cleanup project, but that’s because there were a lot of auto-posted links I could just delete without taking the time to evaluate or label them. It’s already slowing down.

I could just leave all the clutter there, but part of the point is for this to be my bookmarks-away-from-home, and it’s easier to find stuff without the extra junk.

On the plus side, between this and the broken link cleanup, I’m getting to see a bunch of old posts and photos I’d forgotten about. That’s been an interesting process.

It’s also convinced me that linkblogging round-ups really don’t belong on this blog. I still do them on Speed Force, but that’s in part because Speed Force has readers who don’t follow the social networks. (OK, let’s be honest: because Speed Force has readers.) Here, where it’s just a personal site, I’m better off sticking with the best medium for each post. That means Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for short posts (barring a few categories that I’ve got history here, like license plate spotting), the blog for longer posts, and social networks for link sharing.

Recent Links: Social Networking

Some interesting links I’ve seen over the last few weeks.

On a related note, I’ve set up on Klout and PeerIndex, mainly out of curiosity. Their topic analysis needs a bit of work, though. Klout was convinced that my Speed Force accounts were influential about Washington, DC (rather than DC Comics) and, inexplicably, ducks. PeerIndex seems to think I post a lot about breakfast cereal.

What’s behind Twitter’s Ban on Twidroyd & UberTwitter?

So, Twitter blocked access from Twidroyd and UberTwitter today, citing acceptable use policy violations, then classily pushing their own apps. IMO this would be similar to Google blocking Internet Explorer or Firefox from accessing their services, then telling people “oh, you can use Chrome.”

UberMedia has made some changes to appease the Twitter TOS guardians, and expects to be un-blocked soon.

Anyway, onto the accusations:

These violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.

This is the most I’ve been able to find. Let’s break it down:

a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters

“Privacy issue” is a pretty strong accusation (not that it seems to have actually hurt Facebook).

Here’s a thought: Twidroyd has built-in support for TwitLonger, which will let you route a longer message through a third-party service and then post it as a shorter tweet with a link to the full message.

My guess: this was enabled for all outgoing messages instead of just public tweets, including direct messages. This would make the message (a) visible to Twitlonger itself, and (b) potentially visible to anyone who obtained the URL to that message.

trademark infringement

According to UberMedia, they’ve been working on a name change for UberTwitter for the past three weeks. If that’s the case, it sounds like Twitter is just padding the accusations.

changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money

This is a serious accusation, if true. The whole purpose of a communication platform is for one person to convey a message to another person. If that message is altered in transit, it undermines the whole purpose.

But here’s the question: What do they mean by content? Do they mean the exact characters typed in? Do they mean the words? If Twidroyd shortens a URL so that it fits in 140 characters, does that count as changing the content? How about that twitlonger support?

If Twidroyd or UberTwitter prefers a particular URL shortener in exchange for money (just as desktop web browsers prefer a particular search engine), does that count as “changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money?”

Isn’t that essentially what Twitter plans to do by forcing all URLs (even those already shortened) through its t.co URL shortener in order to collect data which it can then…*gasp*…monetize?

Edit: And just as I finish the post, I find a post explaining exactly what the issues were. I was right about the privacy issue, though it was with tmi.me, not twitlonger.

As for changing content, the claim was that UberCurrent (the third app whose name I kept forgetting) was changing affiliate links to point to their own affiliate links instead of the author’s. UberMedia says that they “don’t currently do this,” implying that they may have at some time in the past, or may have been considering it. In any case, that’s a jerky thing to do, if not quite as severe as altering the meaning of a message. I remember a Firefox extension that would let you raise funds for an organization by changing Amazon links to use their affiliate links (eventually discontinued due to Amazon TOS violation), but I think even that made a point of not altering existing affiliate links.

Anyway, It’s a good thing they’re using the Android and Blackberry markets. I expect I’ll see an updated Twidroyd later today (or whenever it is that the phone checks for new apps). From what I’ve heard about the iPhone iOs App Store, it could take as much as a week to get the fixed version approved and out in the hands of its users.