Well, when Twitter changed their API rules to survive the summer of FAIL whale, it crippled the service. And, as such, we’ve been scrapping and scraping to find resources that allow us to find local folks.
Never let anyone say that Matt King won’t find a better way.
Since Twitter cut off their Jabber feed from TwitterLocal, we had to rely purely on the XML API, which meant that only about 20% of Tweets from the public timeline got into TwitterLocal. Now that Twitter has a location-based search API, we don’t have to cache the posts anymore. So now, TwitterLocal is going to be purely an Adobe AIR based application that allows you to filter Tweets by location.
With the new Air app, TwitterLocal supports regional searches with various radii. And it supports multiple tabs—so that you can watch a number of different regions at the same time.
Plus, the beauty of AIR is that it’s crossplatform, right out of the box.
Usually, when I have to mention a company going through layoffs or—worse yet—shutting down, it’s a fairly grim and unwelcome affair.
This is a welcome change.
I’m happy to report that Portland-based Values of n is being shutdown—because it has been acquired by Twitter, the popular microblogging service that powers the conversations of the Portland Web startup scene.
Yes, the technology is amazing. And Sandy has quite an impressive relationship with Twitter. But quite frankly Twitter doesn’t know quite what to do with those assets at this point. So they’re going into the mothballs.
Which brings us to the reason they actually did acquire Values of n: one substantial piece of intellectual property by the name of Rael Dornfest.
Ev Williams of Twitter couldn’t have put it any better when he said:
Rael Dornfest is a famously talented engineer, author, and entrepreneur. Before founding Values of n, Rael served as Chief Technology Officer at O’Reilly Media and is known for his pioneering work on RSS as well being the series editor of O’Reilly’s celebrated Hacks books…. [I] have always thought he was one of the smartest guys I know.
Smart, indeed. Incredibly talented, yes. And in possession of an insane amount of energy.
It’s a little known fact that the amazing—and highly lauded—services of Values of n were single-handedly conceived and managed by Rael with some help here and there. (But he did the bulk of the work.) Even with all the stress of running those services in parallel with a consulting business, he remains one of the most delightful and intelligent people in the Portland tech scene.
And the good news is, Portland is exactly where he’ll remain. Twitter can have his intelligence and guidance, but we get to keep him here. Which means Twitter wins, Rael wins, and we win. Win, win, um, win.
But don’t just take my word for it
This news was all over the tech scene on Monday. Here’s a quick smattering of posts that provide more details on the acquisition:
A fork in the road
“I have taken an engineering position in the User Experience group at Twitter. I started consulting there a few months ago, and fell in love with the team, their way of thinking about things, and of course the product (my Twitter user id is in the low 100s). It turns out we worked incredibly well together, the feeling was mutual, and they pulled me in as a permanent member of the team.”
Twitter Hires Rael Dornfest, Shutters Values of n
“Twitter just announced on the company blog that the company has acquired the assets of Portland, Oregon based Values of n and brought its well-known engineer founder Rael Dornfest on to the Twitter staff. Dornfest’s latest project at Values of n was an anthropomorphized personal assistant service called Sandy.”
Twitter Acquires ‘Values of n’, Adds Rael Dornfest To The Team “The primary goal of the acquisition appears to have been to bring Rael Dornfest to the Twitter team. Dornfest is the founder of Values of n and former CTO at O’Reilly Media, whose responsibilities also included editing the O’Reilly Hacks series. He was also the head of the RSS-DEV group, which created the RSS 1.0 standard.”
Twitter buys a company, closes it, keeps its founder/engineer
“The micro-messaging service Twitter, fresh off its rejection of an offer to be acquired by Facebook, has turned around and made a purchase itself: A personal productivity and information management solutions company called Values of n, Twitter reports on its blog.”
Twitter Buys Start-up’s Assets; Hires Founder Rael Dornfest
“Twitter grabbed headlines today after reports surfaced saying it declined a $500 million buyout offer from Facebook. Now, Twitter is making more news today by saying it has acquired the assets of Values of n, a company that developed a sticky-note application as well as a personal productivity app that works over e-mail, SMS, and the Web.”
Twitter Acquires Values of n (Makers of Sandy)
“Judging by the lack of updates to Twitter I highly doubt that we’ll see any of the Values of n’s features integrated. I am devastated to hear they will be shutting down all their services as well.”
Rael Dornfest joins twitter; now this gets interesting
“Now the man’s going to join forces with Ev Williams, Biz Stone and other smart people at twitter; my product development head is bursting with speculation about the cool direction twitter could go in (and thinking multiple products people, one at a time…). And of course the dude’s an engineer….”
Twitter says I want Sandy
“These are two pretty cool products and I have been a fan of I want Sandy for a long time and it usually runs most of my calendering.”
While I’m sad to see Sandy go, I’ll eagerly await her return. And in the meantime, I’m looking forward to Rael lending his intelligence, wit, and inimitable energy to Twitter.
Congratulations to Rael. This couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
[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
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.)
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.
And, that’s not all. We’ve got the OpenID contingent with Vidoop and JanRain, too. What’s more, Portland is home to a bunch of cool open source shops and developers. Oh, and don’t forget, we used to host RailsConf, too.
But there’s one little get-together that causes our collective open source head to swell ever so slightly. And that event is just around the corner.
OSCON 2008, the premiere open source conference, will be again gracing Portland with its presence, beginning July 21. And with it, thousands of open source types will be descending upon town. No doubt, many of them will be wondering, “What the heck am I supposed to do when I’m not in sessions?”
Have no fear, open source aficionado! There are a few activities with which you can keep yourself entertained, a handful of establishments where you can slake your thirst, and a joint or two where you can get your fill of vittles.
As you’re planning your trip to Portland, here are some links that might help:
Falling in love with Portland, again and again
“This is the beginning of a fantastic renaissance period for Portland. It’s such a vibrant, eclectic, talented and diverse city with so many things going on, that it inspires the mind and spirit around every corner you turn.”
What to do in Portland while you’re at RailsConf (or OSCON)
“If you’re attending RailsConf this year and are from out of town, you might be like me when you’re in another city: I don’t really find much outside of the touristy areas, or what’s immediately around where I’m staying. But you’re in luck! I live here in Portland, Oregon and I have a list of places to go and things to do that I think are quintessential Portland.”
Portland’s top 30 tech Twitter-ers
“And that got me thinking. I began to wonder: Who is at the top of the Twitter heap when it comes to Portland startup and tech types? Who has the most ‘influence’? Who is the holder of the mythical ‘Twitter juice’?”
Still feel like you need some help? Drop a comment here, or feel free to ping me on Twitter. Or look for me at OSCON. I’d be happy to answer any Portland questions for you.
Whatever your question, rest assured that Portvangelists are standing by.
Photo courtesy Matt McGee used under Creative Commons.
After 6 months of planning and preparation InnoTech happens this week, April 16-17 at the Oregon Convention Center. It seems like just weeks ago it was October and we had the first planning meeting for the NW CIO Summit, now after months and months of calling, emailing and planning, InnoTech Oregon is here. I won’t bore you again with how great this event is going to be, but with 100+ speakers, 2000 attendees, 90+ technology demos and must attend networking you can’t go wrong.
[Dawn Foster] will also be moderating a panel about Open Source Communities on April 17th with some amazing panelists and open source rock stars: whurley, Stormy Peters, Danese Cooper, and John Mark Walker. The session is part of an all day open source tracking being organized by Raven Zachary.
If you haven’t registered yet, the folks at InnoTech have offered a 25% discount to all of you Silicon Florist readers. So, if you’re considering attending, please take advantage of it:
Discounted InnoTech Oregon Conference & Exhibits Pass includes Breakfast Presentation with Don Tapscott, Author, WIKINOMICS, at the reduced rate of $45.00 per person ($60.00 per person standard price.) Click to select INNOTECH GENERAL REGISTRATION and enter Discount Code SIL45D to confirm your place at the breakfast.
If you’re already planning to attend and you happen to be on Twitter, I’m planning to hashtag my InnoTech related tweets as “#inno” and I would encourage you to do the same. (If you’re not already following hashtags on Twitter, you’ll need to do that in order for your tweets to be tracked by that service.) When you tag tweets #inno, I’ll make sure to include your twittered insights in any roundup posts.
The leader board currently ranks cities by the number of tweets by residents in a rolling 24-hour period.
Glancing at it a few minutes ago, Tokyo was in the lead with San Francisco running a close second. Paris leads the Europeans. And our hometown of Portland is sitting around #14 or so.
From 8:00PM, April 8, 2008 through 8:00PM, April 9, 2008, the list looked something like this:
New York City
(Entre mi cuarto y mis zapatos)
(Mexico Distrito Federal)
As you can see, there is some weirdness can show up in the results. King notes these flaws in the system:
The seemingly high count of random places like “my pc”, “cybertron”, etc. are the geocoding service’s way of having fun. It seems some fake locations get assigned coordinates to somewhere in Kansas.
There is also a very high count of locations with asian characters, which again the geocoding services give only one location. Other than that the numbers are fairly accurate.
Despite these minor foibles, TwitterLocal’s leader board is the first location-specific Twitter analysis that I’ve encountered which actually begins to show which locations have caught the Twitter bug.
And as impressed as I was with TwitterLocal’s service, I’m sure to find this type of competitive ranking completely addictive, at the very least. I’m sure I’ll be checking TwitterLocal leader board, obsessively, over the coming months to see if we can get Portland to crack the top 10. At the very least.
And while I don’t think there is ever one single good way to rank things, I do have to admit that I find the Portland Start-up Index to be an interesting way of looking at things.
And then there was Aaron Hockley crossing the 5000 tweet mark last night.
And that got me thinking. I began to wonder: Who is at the top of the Twitter heap when it comes to Portland startup and tech types? Who has the most “influence”? Who is the holder of the mythical “Twitter juice”?
I had a fitful sleep of metric-ridden dreams, last night.
So, this morning, I—very unscientifically—started combing through the Portland metropolitan area Twitter types. Trying to figure it out.
After some fits and starts, I had gathered a number of folks from the area. I had their number of followers, the number of people they were following, and the number of updates they had.
Some of the more prolific people weren’t exactly “tech” or “startup” types, so they were the first ones I cut them from the list.
Then, I looked at the number of updates that these folks had. And I cut some of the people with lower numbers of updates.
Then, I looked at the number of followers each of these people had. And the number of people they were following.
To me, it seemed that influence has something to do with the number of people who listened each time a person updated. But, logically, not all of these people were listening from day one, and because of that, a direct multiplication would be inaccurate and misleading.
So, I massaged those numbers a little. And mucked with some of the weighting. Then I took all of that unscientific research and ran it through the Silicon Florist 5000.
And guess what it spit out? I was surprised. And I was wrong with my #1 guess. I’m willing to bet you were, too.
Something dawned on me this weekend as I was watching the streams of Portland-based tweets stream across my screen. I think Portland may have more another “per capita” stat we can start quoting. I think it’s highly likely that Portland has more tweets per capita than any city in the US.
With all of these Twitter users and tweets flying by, it comes as no surprise that Portland and the Silicon Forest have created a number of cool side-project Twitter-related tools and views. I use a number of these tools every single day. And they’ve greatly improved the utility of Twitter—and the information it holds—for me. (Of course, as always, I also remain hopeful that some of these side projects have the potential to form—or at the very least inspire—full-fledged Silicon Forest startups.)
While I’ve covered most of these individually, I thought it might be wise to round them up for future reference. Both to highlight the work that is going on, and to hopefully, stimulate some more ideas for development.
In no particular order:
Pulse of PDX provides a view of Portland Twitter users and what they’re posting to Twitter. The best thing about Pulse of PDX? You don’t even have to be a Twitter user to use it, so it’s a great way to dip your toe in the proverbial Twitter water. Of course, once you use it, you may want to become a Twitter user.
Twitterwhere let’s you find all the Twitter users in a particular geographic region. Want to find all of the Twitter folks in Corvallis? What about Vancouver? Portland? And since the service provides a feed, it’s another “try before you buy” Twitter tool. Add the feed to your feed reader if you’re still debating whether to sign up for Twitter or not.
Tweetpeek allows you to create quick widgets and pages using the followers of a particular entity. Think Pulse of PDX for whatever you want. Create a Twitter entity, follow the folks you would like to include, and run it through Tweetpeek. Easy.
Ever wish you could see Twitter conversations in a threaded, rather than linear, format? Well, then Twitterthreads may be for you, my friend. Simply log into Twitterthreads with your Twitter credentials, and you’ll be able to see your
Heavy Twitter users will find times when they simply don’t see all the replies that were meant for them. And that’s where Portland’s Twitter Reply Sniffer comes into play. Use the tool to search for your Twitter name and you’ll see all the replies from all the folks who are interested in conversing with you.
I don’t use public transit as much as I would like, but when I do, NextTrimet has been a welcomed addition to my Twitter toolset. Simply follow NextTrimet (and wait for it to follow you back), then send your stop number in a direct message to NextTrimet and it will let you know when the next ride will be arriving.
Sandy isn’t a Twitter tool per se. But I have to tell you, since I discovered Sandy’s Twitter account, I’ve been working with her more and more. Like anyone else on Twitter, she’s cordial, intelligent, and helpful. And she’s helping me keep track of more and more things.