Twitter's Big News Day
I spent the day at Twitter's Chirp conference at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, in an auditorium crammed to the rafters with Twitter developers and other interested parties. The mood seemed slightly subdued-maybe folks are concerned over Twitter's encroachment into areas traditionally left to third-party companies-but there was lots of news. Such as...
The Library of Congress is archiving every tweet ever tweeted. As much as I love Twitter, my impulse was to be jokey and dismissive-"what's next, YouTube comments?"-but as I think it over, I'm glad it's doing so. There's an awful lot of our digital heritage that's already gone, and it's better to err on the side of saving everything than to let interesting stuff (like the most significant tweets) slip away. (The announcement doesn't, however, explain precisely how people will be able to get access to these tweets, or find the ones that anyone will care about in, say, 2047.)
Google has launched a new version of its real-time search that lets you search past tweets, then see a timeline that lets you jump to a particular date. Here's a graph of discussion of Conan O'Brien this month, showing the giant spike in Coco-related tweets when he announced he was doing a show on TBS.
Google's new feature only goes back to February at the moment, which means it's not terribly useful-but it'll let you browse back to the very first tweets from 2006 soon. That should be fun.
At Chirp itself, various Twitter executives announced several bits of news in the morning:
- An upcoming feature called Points of Interest, which leverages the service's new geolocation feature, will let you find tweets made at a particular geographic location-a sort of rudimentary echo of services like Foursquare, but without the check-in part.
- Twitter is rolling out new API features which should eventually result in better third-party clients, including Places (a database of information about geographic locations), User Streams (a better way to get data from Twitter into an app) and Annotations (which lets third-party clients store metadata of their choice within Twitter).
- We got a closer look at @anywhere, a rough counterpart to Facebook Connect designed to make it easy for sites to integrate Twitter features (so that their users can tweet without leaving the site in question, for example).
There was also a surprise guest: musician/geek will.i.am, who talked about Twitter's ability to let you surf the collective consciousness, said he thinks future bands will have on-staff coders, and was generally perceptive.
The conference continues on, and hasn't even turned its attention yet to one of the big questions: How is Twitter going to make money? More news to come...