Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Real-time search – the missing piece

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Shifting the problem from finding content to finding people for search, discovery and filtering is not enough.

The evolution of finding new and engaging content:

Step 1: We started by searching for engaging content using search engine like Google or blog search engine/directory such as Technorati. These search engines operates web crawlers scanning the web for new information, then index (categorize) and rank web pages using different algorithms. As time went by we started adding blogs  feeds (using the RSS and ATOM protocols) to our feed reader of choice like Google Reader.
Results: with some effort we managed to find great bloggers to follow, but new content was slow to arrive, it was slow to discover, and even after awhile we ended up with not enough variety. No wonder it was a dead-end!
Step 2: step #1, plus finding the people behind the content, following their feeds on social media tools (twitter, FriendFeed, facebook etc.).
Results: initially, we got faster and richer content , but it got messy very quickly (especially when we auto follow back), it was also overwhelming at times, and lots of people share the same content (whether it is lame or great).  Add to the feed stream cacophonies the fact that people are using these channels for chatting with their peers, sharing thoughts and feeling, promoting their business/products/services and we end up with yet another dead-end!
Step 3: step #2, plus lists. Now we can group people into categorized twitter lists, and follow their tweets.
Results: Now, the content is a little less messy because we have more control over the data filtering. The process for building your own list is very slow and tedious at the moment, but you can use other’s lists via listorious or tweepml. On the flip side it requires coming up with a new process for scanning the lists timelines (how frequently? whom to give more attention? adding/removing tweeps), and you can easily end up with too many lists. The worse part is that the people on the list not always share just about the subject that matches the list category.  Bottom-line, it is somehow better than step #2 but not by much – another dead-end?

Content by people

In steps #1 we let the crawler to find and categorize the content and it was up to us to find it. In step #2 and #3 we shifted to people search and then we let them drive content to us. This time the crowd took care of the categorization tasks; finding and matching people to domains of knowledge. People categorized themselves and others, built many great lists, follow other lists (indication of popularity) and shared them for us to grab.

The shift

imageIn the process from #1 to #2 we shifted the content discovery problem to people discovery problem.  Due to this shift we gained big time in scale, arming the entire web community to search for new content. We accelerated discovery and knowledge gain. We also gained speed over RSS or the web crawler. Among the changes, going from steps #1 to step #3, the focus shifted from filtering content to filtering people (lists).

Small pause to recap: we have categorized content thanks to search engines and tags, we have people grouped by categories thanks to the people, but we still have a lot of noise.

The missing step

In my opinion, we are missing a step.  I think that we ought to get back to the computerized categorization. We need a crawler, to categorize and rank the data in the context of the list.
I would like to be able to filter list timeline view by: links only, discussion threads only, and even more important by content that matches the list’s definition in the first place.
If I follow a list that discuss mobile phone technology I want to see only mobile phone technology related content.

Picture credit orangeacid

Twitter lists feature – do you see what that I see?

October 30, 2009 2 comments


This week, Twitter opened the new twitter lists features to the public. I had a chance to play with lists for some time now (I was fortunate to see it a little early). In my opinion, it will take some time to fully understand the true meaning and implications of this new feature, the same way that it took us time to understand twitter. Basically, twitter added another level of abstraction between users and their following timelines (now, it is one to many) and that made things a little more interesting. Here are some of my initial thoughts.

What lists show us?

  1. Now we can see what the others see. Before lists, no two twitter users shared the same timeline view. This new capability opens the possibilities to do remote, join tweeting looking at the very same timline.
  2. Now we can see how our tweets are seen by others – maybe we over tweet? or a misfit? try following a list containing your twitter user name.
  3. The list name shows how people categorize us (how are they thinking about us).  Check the lists that you are listed on: Authors/readers/reviewers, thought leaders/journalist/bloggers, funny.

Other observations about Twitter lists:

  1. Lists value depreciate with their size –  a small focused list will provide better content than a long list ( a long one is not much better than your timeline)
  2. Counter intuitive to item #1 – for some reason bigger lists gain more followers
  3. If you spent the time building a great focused list then upload it to Listorious (kudos for the quick turnaround of this website). It could help to promote your username adding to your twitter presence. Tag it appropriately to be found.
  4. Lists are another great example for the huge power of crowdsourcing when it comes to organizing large amount of data (the grid computing paradigm). In comparison think about the TweetDeck twitter groups creating feature. Creating a list is a tedious process, keeping those private is a waste. Thanks to Twitter lists and Listorious we have a kind of new and organized real-time search engine in under a week.
  5. Are we going to see #ListFollowFriday meme soon? E.g #ListFollowFriday @ravenme/iphone The best iPhone app developers
  6. The next step is making list creation easier. I like to see a merge list option. The merge will create a new list that is a set of users from the original two lists.
  7. Another next step is adding to the best twitter desktop clients out there the option to upload lists.
  8. Getting a little wild here: in Twitter Search Advance Options, add search by lists, and search with the option to exclude list or lists.

All in all I think that the twitter lists feature is great. Lists will help getting rid of spammers, finding new communities, getting better content quality, and will introduce an infinite tweets timelines to follow.

Your thoughts?

Picture credit to Irargerich


Thanks to Twitter we are buying the future!

October 20, 2009 1 comment

I was recently amazed to see how many books on the Top 100 bestsellers list are ready for pre-order!

What is the twitter connection?

Just search on Twitter Search for pre-order+amazon+book. By the way, books are just one of the many items that are available for pre-order on Amazon. Apparently twitter helps to close the sale cycle faster, even before the product is actually available. Twitter helps to quickly raise awareness to the upcoming products. I also think that Amazon is doing a great job sharing this information here.

I wonder how that list looked few years ago in the pre-twitter era.

So maybe the real-time web is not just about the present but includes the near future too?!


picture credit: aussiegall

I’m also proud to have a book on Amazon Kindle store! My new eBook is available in Kindle version here:  Timing the tweet

Twitter tip: treat yourself to a tweet

October 18, 2009 Leave a comment

orancecupjpg I want to follow more people on twitter so I can see more interesting tweets or gain more influence (if they follow me back) but I need to be patient!

Robert T. Kiyosaki wrote in his bestselling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad (not an affiliate link), “Pay yourself first”. In some way, what that he meant was the opposite of treat yourself first. Basically, it was about saving money first, and after making sure that this money is invested and yields more profit, then it is OK to spoil yourself buying luxury things. There are few other good lessons in this book but lately this one resonate in my mind when I think about following others on twitter.

In order to be twitscally (fiscally) responsible I’ll need to earn new followers first before I can go and follow more.

Why do I recommend this network building approach?

  • It make you motivated to come up with better content so you can get more followers and then follow more great resources.
  • It helps you to build a more reliable and sustainable twitter account. I find it hard to follow twitter accounts with high follow/following ratio (i.e. way more following than followers).
  • It can help you to put a value for great twitter users. Example: I tell myself that if I’ll get two more followers I could follow one more (maybe an upcoming new thoughts leader in my niche).

And, yes, it takes more time in the same way as it takes to grow your saving account, but this is the way in my mind to build valuable network. A trustworthy network that can be leveraged for influence, community building, and revenue generating. Treat your followers following spread like your equity and build it overtime. Alternatively, having a twitter account that is follows lots of people, and very few followers is like having an over extended credit card account.

Does it make sense to you? Do you follow blindly? Do you have process for deciding whom to follow?

If you like this tip and want to learn more about building high value twitter accounts for marketing, selling, networking, influence or any other purposes please consider reading my eBook: Timing the tweet

And, yes, I know that it is almost Halloween: so treat yourself to a great tweet!

Four ways to deliver value in your short tweets

October 7, 2009 1 comment

charged Here are four simple ways to create tweets charged with valuable information.

Valuable tweets

  1. Share news
    1. New tool, addon, web-site – like the mini launch of a new online real-time community, cliqset, or the re-launch of Pijoo as a purely content-driven service.
    2. New book, movie, album– the new Dan Brown The Lost Symbol (the bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code).
    3. Stats – up, down, on top – for blogs, for book, movie, album. Maybe how much a movie made in its first week.
    4. New Trending Topics – this is another way to break the news. Just look at TwitScoop tag cloud or Twitter Search Trending topics.
    5. Winning a prize – like announcing Hilary Mantel as the Man Booker Fiction 2009 winner
  2. Connect the dots
    1. For new book, movie, album – add link to previous work done by the same creator. Example: similar to the way I just did with the Dan Brown’s example above. I made the connection to his previous work (it is not that obvious in many other cases).
    2. For a person add link to multiple places where she has presence on the web. If we take the Hilary Mantel as an example point to her Facebook page
    3. For a book, movie, album add link to coming event – something that take a little longer than Book Signing, The Dan Brown Way
    4. For news – add other items that can help understanding the context better. This is especially useful for sport event. Having the context make it a lot more interesting.
  3. Connect people/Introduce
    1. For new band, author, producer, or actor, provide their twitter username (include the @). Example: The book the Lost Symbol has a twitter account @lostsymbolbook (administered by his US publisher, Doubleday)
    2. Point to hot discussion. Example: If you like book talks check #litchat
    3. Active #hashtag – not just the most active (and some times abused) from the Trending Topics. Find others from one of your twitter timelines or twubs.
    4. Engaging blog – blogs with lots of comments activity – use BackType. Example: I found this blog post Kiss “Sonic Boom” Review with 45 comments (the last one I saw was from October 6, 2009 at 10:25 pm). I searched BackType for CD review.
    5. Popular item: bestseller, popular on Glue, Amzon, B&N. Example: This is fairly trivial. Here is Amazon Bestsellers in Book page (hint: check how many days the book is in the top 100 – look for the more recent additions).
  4. Compress (encode/decode) greater knowledge into short messages
    1. The best example that I could find is @cookbook – tweeting tiny recipes condensed by @Maureen. The owner of this twitter account built a @cookbook glossary that helps to convert the encoded recipes to real one.
    2. The second best example is StockTwits – here too, people found a way to communicate more than what the 140 characters allows.


  • Because delivering value can really help you to get more followers on twitter
  • Because if you use Affiliate Marketing links you can truly assist in the buying decision.
  • Because it is a little more interesting than seeing the same 5 or 10 top bloggers being retweeted over and over again.

The secret for building valuable tweets

Closely examining my examples above, there are three key value drivers:

  1. Search – finding the data. Access to great and trusted content sources is value.
  2. Tying a couple or more data points together into a single piece of information (tweet).  Association is value.
  3. Timing. Relevancy is value.

Additional ideas for building valuable tweets: attention, and help.

What other ways do you see for charging tweets with value?

If you liked this post please consider buying my eBook on Scribd: Timing the tweet

On a blogging break – playing with Google App Engine

April 7, 2009 1 comment

GoogleAppEngine I took my head out of Twitter and I’m taking a short break from blogging. I’m playing with Google App Engine. So far Google‘s documentation is very helpful so getting started was fairly strait forward.

Here are my ramp-up tasks:

  • Read through the Getting Started section
  • Ramped up on Python – very cool and easy to use scripting language
  • I learned to JSON using simplejson– it works nicely with python
  • I’m now adopting new Web Framework django for Python
  • And I’m getting up to speed with a new data storage concept

All are great technologies.

I’m also testing the PyDev plugin for using eclipse IDE to develop for Google App engine – here are the instructions – so far so good.

Useful links:

Google App Engine and misc


If you have additional useful links relevant to the technologies listed above please let me know.

*I plan to update the additional useful sources from time to time as I find more content

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3 things to check before you retweet!

March 21, 2009 3 comments

Quickly after I started using real-time conversational search engines it becomes apparent that the crowd sourcing is sometime more like a herd sourcing. People retweet (re-share items on Twitter) blindly and carelessly. Here are the three things to consider before you retweet.

The short retweet checklist:


  1. How close you are to the news origin? Search the tweet or link using Twitter Search, MicroPlazza or any other microblogging search engine to see how many times it was retweeted before yours. In the case from the picture above it was “only” 972 times. If the link was shorten by you can also see link’s statistics such as the time line and clicks count. Between these three tools you can tell how old this “news” is.
  2. Check if it is not a hoax – some people takes advantage of the fact that so many other people are eager to be among the first one to break the news. This one is tricky and everyone cal fall for it but I follow my father’s advice – “if there is a doubt there is not doubt”. Some news really sounds fishy:) I also noticed that people were still retweeting the false story even way after others were retweeting that it was a hoax.
  3. Will it waste people’s time – this is something that I’m struggling with lately.  As the number of people that follow me on Twitter grows, I feel more and more responsible for not wasting their time. I find myself checking and rechecking if the link, tweet or retweet delivers any value. I’m asking myself if I learned anything from the blog’s post or article that I just read or if the twitter fellow I’m about to recommend to others is really that good.

It is OK to retweet, it is the bridge between twitter’s remote social branches for passing content through. I only suggest to run this short retweet checklist prior. It will help you to become a better social media broadcaster and appreciated by your followers.

Do you have more items to add to this retweet checklist?

I wonder if I’ll ever see any retweet of my content after this post:)

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