Proto-twitter meets Twitter

Nick Bilton's Hatching Twitter tells of four friends who became rivals in the claim for having "founded" Twitter. (A recurring narrative well captured in the 2001 film Startup.com.) Even beyond founding, others can claim to have "invented" something twitter-like before Twitter, including myself!

Unlike the vision of Ev Williams who conceived the focus of micro-blogging as real-time events experienced and Jack Dorsey who conceived of it as broadcasting updates about one's self, I was focused on sharing stuff I had done.

Over ten years ago I wrote up what I thought were the important requirements for a busy sponge

I spend a lot of my time typing things into various interfaces: such as a log of important/useful things I've done during the day, an outline of things I need to do, a list of interesting links and my thoughts on them, web site passwords, proto-ideas and scribbles, annotations/comments on things I've read, and travel information. Some of these things are stored in (different) html pages and some in (different) flat text files, and I use different editors/browsers for these files! I'd like to have a single easy to use interface for entering all these things. This will require a data store/model, an interface, and perhaps some syntactical conventions for easy freeform entry..

This was when I worked at the W3C and was motivated, in part, by our weekly meetings in which we shared our "two minutes." I wanted a way to capture stuff I had done and share it with my colleagues. Once I had a way to capture these events, I naturally created an RSS feed that my peers could subscribe to.

Since then the tool has evolved to do many things for me, most importantly capturing bibliographic data about Web sources for my online ethnographies and histories. For the past couple of years, I've thought I should send some of my stream of busy to Twitter and/or Google+. I prefer to use Google+, but they've so far refused to create an API for creating Plus status updates. With the semester winding down, I finally gave Twitter a go via the nice command line tool twidge. Hence, busy now has an option to send an update to twitter.

def yasn_publish(comment, title, url, tag):
    comment_delim = ": " if comment else ""
    comment = comment + comment_delim + title
    comment_room = 140 - len(comment) - len(tag) - len(url)
    if comment_room < 0:    # the comment is too big
        comment = comment[0:-17] + '...' # url will be shortened to 20 chars
    message = "%s %s #%s" %(comment, url, tag)
    call(['twidge', 'update', '%s' %message]) # tweet via twidge

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