July 10th, 2008

Mashing Twitter and Identi.ca: Following the conversation

[Editor: I always love a good hack. So when Gary Walter approached me, asking for somewhere to publish this technique, I jumped at the chance. Hopefully, this will be useful to many of you who are straddling the worlds of Twitter and Identi.ca.]

I found Twitter through Jott.com. Being a consummate earlier adopter, and seeing a tool that I had not yet tried, I had to sign up. Little did I know that I was a late-bloomer when it came to Twitter. But, late or not, I dove right in and haven’t looked back.

Fail Whale

Like many, I’ve found the frequent appearance of the Fail Whale discouraging, if not downright frustrating. Not only has Twitter expanded my horizons, it has become an essential tool. Other services just don’t offer the same means to an end.

There are many who have jumped onto FriendFeed in a frenzy of gluttonous excitement. But I haven’t found FriendFeed to meet that real-time need.

Pownce and Jaiku are both serious contenders that many extol as having “superior architecture.” However, the threaded conversations break down the flow in much the way FriendFeed does.

There is something about the simplicity of Twitter that empowers open conversation, almost like SecondLife but without the sexy avatars.

And, of course, there have been a number of other attempts to steal the userbase of Twitter. But most of these attempts have misinterpreted the appeal of Twitter. (Don’t even get me started on Plurking!)

Then, last week, a Canadian company released an open source competitor to Twitter—on the Fourth of July no less!

Identi.ca reproduced many of the features we like about Twitter, but didn’t introduce a lot of the stuff we don’t like about Pownce, Jaiku, and Plurk. In short, identi.ca is simple and because of its architecture, there is a great potential for scalability—something Twitter hasn’t been able to achieve.

So, I quickly jumped on the identi.ca bandwagon. It is everything I like about Twitter, but without the community of users I’ve come to love at Twitter.

Which leaves darting among multiple conversation streams.

So now I have conversations in multiple places

I, like many, have been evangelizing Ping.fm as a great tool to crosspost to all of the sites I’ve mentioned above. Some are using Hellotxt.com, but either will accomplish this task.

But this doesn’t solve my real problem—receiving posts from multiple sites. Ping.fm is like a reverse Grandcentral.com. It allows me to contact all my contact points at once. But what I need is a Grandcentral.com for my microblogging sites.

I need to follow the conversations – as @turoczy said to me last night, regarding following replies via RSS: “Yes, but then I can’t listen to the conversation. I can only listen to people talking to me.

So, as an INTJ, I am constantly looking at new ideas. I’ve thrown some pings out there to try and be a catalyst to my tech-geek friends, but I’ve not seen anyone bite. (Maybe they’re too busy with their day jobs.)

Anyway, I’ve been working on this #afterhours for about a week. I’ve experimented with FriendFeed, Google Reader, Swurl, Lifestream.fm, and almost every Twitter app I could find on del.icio.us. I tried to develop a Pipe to do this, but I kept running into roadblocks—mainly because Twitter’s RSS is broken. FAIL!

Combining Twitter and Identi.ca into one feed

Then I had a mindstorm, and came up with this solution. (I’m assuming the reader of this post knows how to sign-up and create the various accounts and services mentioned. If not, you probably won’t need this solution.)

  1. Install, and use, this GreaseMonkey script . If you haven’t discovered all the cool G-Monkey scripts available for FriendFeed, this is your opportunity and this author has a few of the great ones.
  2. Add as many friends on FriendFeed as you want.
  3. Click on the Twitter only link/filter as provided by the above script.
  4. Subscribe to the RSS feed created by FriendFeed and post it in your reader.
  5. Go to identi.ca and subscribe to your “All” RSS feed.
  6. Now, here is where it gets fun: I put both of these feeds in a new folder/tag and made that folder public. Google Reader gives me a link that I can share here. Or, I can just view it in Google Reader. (You can go directly to FriendFeed and read the feed there. Also, I’m thinking there must be a good way to use Twhirl with this filtered feed. But, I haven’t had the time to experiment with that yet.)

Thanks to Silicon Florist for letting me share this process with you all. We would be thrilled to hear about your experiments in the comments. And if someone can figure out how to get this to work via Twhirl—and a Twitter/identi.ca mix on FriendFeed—we’d like to hear that too.

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12 Responses to “Mashing Twitter and Identi.ca: Following the conversation”

  1. Don Ball says:

    Thanks, not just for the hack, but also for a really helpful rundown of the micro-blogsphere and the layer of management apps the surround it (would that be the micro-blogo-straosphere?). As an ENFP, I enjoy the chaos, but I depend on others to organize it!

  2. Gary Walter says:

    Thanks for letting me share this mashup/hack. I couldn’t stand the thought of not sharing it. Rick, you are awesome!

  3. Gary Walter says:

    PS: As you may have figured out by now, one can add RSS feeds from Jaiku, Pownce, Brightkite, and Plurk (if youmust to your Feed Reader also.

    But you already knew that, ‘cuz you’re one of the cool kids!

  4. [...] Walter explains his hack for Mashing Twitter and Identica on Silicon [...]

  5. dd says:

    i simply don’t know how to put both of feeds in a new folder/tag and then make that folder public. in another word how to that folder/tag make shared item, as i can see, no place to do such thing unless i choose feed item click to share.

  6. Gary Walter says:

    Interestingly, G-Reader uses the terms “folder” and “tag” synonymously. When you subscribe to a feed, there is a drop down in G-Reader that allows you to select what “folder” to put your new feed in. If you haven’t already, I suggest you create a new folder for your microblogging aggregate (something catchy, like “Aggregate” :)

    Once you have put your FriendFeed/Twitter-filtered feed into this folder, you can add your identi.ca feed, and any others you’d like to follow (e.g. Jaiku, Plurk, Pownce, etc.).

    Now, click on “settings” (top right corner) or “Manage Subscriptions” (bottom left corner) – they both do the same thing. In that screen, click on “Tags” (why they didn’t name this “folders” is pretty obvious, but stupid: they want to follow the whole Web2.0 tagging craze, but they haven’t revamped their database to be tag friendly. It is more folder friendly. Tables vs. columns and all that, but I digress).

    Once you’ve entered the “Tags” screen, select your new folder and “change sharing” via the drop down (top-center). Once you’ve done that, you’ll have the option to view the public website you’ve just created with your microblogging aggregate.

    Also, with all of your microblogging feeds in one place, you’ll want to view these from the folder, not the individual site feed. Most people underestimate, or are unaware of the power of viewing their feeds by “folder” and not by individual feed.

    By grouping similar feeds into various folders, I’m able to maximize my reads. For instance, I have Portland news agency’s “breaking news” feeds in one folder. I sort this folder by “auto” and read the entire folder as one – this way, regardless of news agency, all my breaking news is listed in chronological order.

    You’ll want to do the same thing with your Twitter, identica feed. That way, the posts come in chronological order, not by service.

    Someday, according to my really smart tech friends, all these services will have XMPP and will be able to communicate with one another via some tool like Twhirl. Until then, here’s hoping that Twitter is able to get their RSS feeds back up and running and this post will become obsolete.

    If you have anymore questions, (or my instructions aren’t clear enough) please contact me via Twitter or identica @gwalter.

  7. friarminor says:

    So much for hacks and oh please no more feeds for me (very un-twitter…) Give me a service for Twitter and Identi.ca conversations packaged in a nice Tumblr-like form. And call it tinnitus or something..

    Oh and honestly, you’re a genius, Gary. But I’m so lame I can’t get that to work.


  8. Gary Walter says:

    FYI, today I unsubscribed to my own mashup hack Twitter/identica feed. I haven’t seen the Fail Whale in awhile and most of my tweeps are on Twitter.

    I’m thinking that if identica did anything right (and they did much!), they at least awoke the sleeping whale!

  9. Combining Twitter and Identi.ca into one feed?

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  11. Cutler says:

    i will need much more followers!!!

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