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.
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
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.)
- 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.
- Add as many friends on FriendFeed as you want.
- Click on the Twitter only link/filter as provided by the above script.
- Subscribe to the RSS feed created by FriendFeed and post it in your reader.
- Go to identi.ca and subscribe to your “All” RSS feed.
- 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.