Twitter APIs

Twitter, a free social networking and micro-blogging service, has released Application Programmable Interfaces or APIs, to allow third party applications the ability to access the Twitter messaging functionality.  The APIs have two components the REST API and the Search API.

The Twitter REST API manages the core Twitter data.  REST stands for Representational State Transfer, an architecture and standard for web applications. This API allows applications to send and receive tweets along with access to status data and user information.

The Twitter Search API allows applications to access the Twitter Search function and trends data.  The Twitter search functionality was originally a third party application provided by Summarize, Inc.  Twitter later acquire Summarize and rebranded the functionality to Twitter Search.  The API is sometimes referred to as Summarize Twitter Search API.

There hundreds of examples of third party applications that use the Twitter APIs to access the Twitter functionality and data.  I have highlighted a few interesting ones below.

Twittervision

Twitterision is a ‘mashup’ using the Google Maps API and the Twitter REST API.  It allows the user to watch the graphical location of twitters in realtime.   This could be used trucking company  to monitor and track its drivers.

Summarizer

For a given topic, Summarizer collects and categorizes tagged tweets, news articles, images and videos from across the web.  Could be used as a research tool to obtain the latest information on a product or event.

Twizon

Twizon uses the Amazon ecommerce API and the Twitter Search API.  It lists tweets about the products listed on sold on the Amazon.com website.  This could be used as a customer satisfaction monitoring tool.

Twitterriffic

Twitterriffic is a mobile application that allows you to read and publish tweets.  It is an easy to user interface for your tweet viewing.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck allows you to manage and update your Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts with a single click.  You can also manage multiple Twitter accounts and share images and video clips.  This could be used by a organization that uses multiple social networking applications as a marketing tool.

How Organizations Can Use Twitter

Twitter, a free social networking and micro-blogging service, has been harnessed by commercial and non-profit organizations.  Using it both as a marketing tool and communication vehicle, organizations use it to send announcements about upcoming events, to communicate status, to share links, etc.  Two interesting examples of this are PisgahAthletics and afshinziafat.

The first account is used by the Athletics department of Mount Pisgah Christian School to communicate team/game information and scores.   For example, at a recent away varsity football game there were 7 tweets sent at various stages of the game.  Along with quarter status and scores, player information and stats were also communicated to followers who may or may not be at the game.

Another interesting organization using Twitter is Afshin Ziafat Ministries.  This organization, targeted to teenagers and young adults, uses Twitter to reach its young constituent base.  The lead minister, Afshin Ziafat, travels throughout the country speaking to young people.  Once they meet him, they like to still feel connected to him by following him on Twitter.  Additionally, tweets are used as a marketing tool to notify followers where he will be speaking next.

In summary, organizations can and do use Twitter as both a marketing and communication tool.  As more and more users sign up for Twitter, the more effective and widespread tool it will become.

Getting Help Using Twitter

Welcome to the world of tweets!  Tweets are messages that are sent and received via Twitter, a free social networking and micro-blogging service.  You can use the Internet, your phone or text messages to send and receive tweets.

To learn how to use Twitter, I reviewed the Twitter Help page known as Twitter Support.  It was very informative and helpful as it was designed to be.  The main portion of the page includes a video on how to get started. Additionally the page includes many resources accessible in the sidebar.  These resources include Getting Started, Known Issues and Trouble Shooting.  As expected, I discovered some interesting things about Twitter while reading the support page:

Twitter has imposed limits so that the Twitter network will not fail.  However, as you can see, these limits are really not that limiting:

  1. 140 characters per message
  2. 1,000 total updates per day, on any and all devices (web, mobile web, phone, APR, etc.)
  3. 250 total direct messages per day, on any and all devices
  4. 150 API requests per hour.

Additionally, you can categorize or group your messages or tweets by using hash tags. A hash tag is similar to other web tags and is implemented by inserting a hash mark or pound sign (#) in front of the word you want to use as a tag.  When this word is searched in Twitter Search, the tweet using the hash tag will be found and displayed.

As mentioned above, you can send and receive messages many different ways.  You can post updates via the web on Twitter.com, from your mobile web browser using m.twitter.com or from any other third party application using the Twitter Application Programming Interface such as Echofon, Twitterrific or Tweetdeck.

And finally, I learned that you can reply or send a message directly to a Tweeter by using the @ symbol inserted in front of the Twitter Account Name.  For example, @sghutto will send a message directly to me.

All, in all, I found the help support to be very informative and complete with many interesting facts and hints.

Opera Software – A Little History

In anticipation of Molly Holzschlag, Software Evangelist for Opera Software, speaking to our class on Thursday, September 17th, I’ve done a little research on Opera Software.

Opera Software is an industry leader in the development of Web browsers for the desktop, device and mobile markets. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, Opera was started in 1994 as research project of Telenor, Norway’s largest telecom company.  Opera Software ASA was started in 1995 and has grown to include offices in 9 other countries with just over 700 employees worldwide. Opera, their product, is a high quality, multi-platform Web browser with over 10 million downloads.  Here is a time line of their major accomplishments:

  • 1995  ~ Opera Software founded and Opera 1.0 debuts
  • 1996  ~ Opera 2.0 for Windows
  • 1997  ~ Opera for MAC
  • 1998 ~ Opera for mobile devices
  • 1999 ~ My Opera goes live
  • 2002 ~ Small screen rendering developed
  • 2005 ~ 1 million downloads – Opera Mini debuts
  • 2006 ~ 1 billion page views
  • 2007 ~ Opera Mini – 5 billion page views
  • 2009 ~ Opera 10 released – 10 million downloads in 1 week

Recently, Opera Software released version 5 of its Opera Mini browser.  With extremely efficient caching, Opera Mini allows very large pages to load quickly and smoothly even on low powered devices.  New features include both keypad and touch screen browsing, tabbed browsing allowing multiple pages to be opened at the same time and enhanced speed dial allowing thumbnail displays of up to nine different websites available at one time.

Sadly, Opera Mini is not available for iPhones.  Although Safari for the iPhone has most of the Opera Mini functionality, the improved caching would be beneficial.  Although Opera Mini for the iPhone would not provide a lot of new features for iPhone users, some people just like to use something different.

LAMP vs. .Net

This week in class we discussed the web server architecture models specifically   touching on LAMP vs. .Net.   Why are we concerned about the web server model? Most enterprise level web based applications from CRM (customer relationship management) systems to CMS (content management systems) operate on this model.  Also referred to as the IT stack, this grouping of applications is the core base for most web-based applications and consists of a server operating system, a web-server, a database and a scripting or development language.

Two of the best know stacks are the open-sourced LAMP and .Net from Microsoft.  .Net consists of the Windows Server operating system, IIS (Internet Information Services) Web Server, SQL Server database and ASP scripting language.  Conversely, LAMP consists of Linux operating system, Apache Web server, MySQL database and PHP (or Python or Perl) scripting language.

As an IT Director, which IT stack should you choose to run your enterprise’s Web based application?  As with all technical questions, the answer is it depends.  In general, Microsoft’s .Net is tightly integrated which leads to easy configuration, administration and more predictable performance.  Open sourced LAMP on the other hand can be difficult to configure, has too many options that can impact performance and it is often difficult to find qualified people to support the platform.  However, the fact that it scales relatively easily, uses inexpensive servers and has no licensing costs often entices organizations to select the LAMP IT stack.

For a more detailed discussion of the performance of each platform, check out Jim Rapoza’s eWeek Labs article: Open Source vs. .Net Stacks.  For a more complete set of features and comparisons check out Syllogistic’s Web Development: A Comparison of Three Major Platforms.

Editing Wikipedia

This week’s assignment included updating a Wikipedia page.   Created in 2001, Wikipedia attracts more than 65 million visitors monthly.   Wikipedia is offered in over 40 languages and on English Wikipedia, there are over 10 million registered users over 857,000 uploaded files.   (See the Wikipedia:About page for more fun facts!)

I became one of those registered users today.  I first created an account and then read some of the extensive tutorials where I learned, among other things, Wikipedia uses its own mark-up language known as wikitext.  I then felt empowered to edit!!  But what should I edit?

For over 3 years of my life I worked on the 1996 Summer Olympics project with IBM.  It was an exciting opportunity and provided me with many experiences and a lot of knowledge about the Olympics.  I had found my topic!

Editing a page is easy.  I first clicked on “edit this page” which brought up the 1996 Summer Olympics page in wikitext.  I then made my edits.  Wikipedia includes many good editing usability features such as the “Show preview” and “Show changes” buttons.  Also, the “discussion” page is a great place to post questions about the topic.  After reviewing my edits, I updated the Edit Summary and saved the page.

What did I change?  In the Venues subsection, the article mentioned that “football” events were played outside of Atlanta.  Following Wiki standards, since the article was concerning an American event and since football is referred to in America as “soccer”, I changed the word “football” to “soccer” and added a link to the Wiki soccer page.  I also reworded the sentence slightly for readability while preserving the message.

Blue Ocean vs. Red Ocean Strategies

First introduced in a 2004 Harvard Business Review article by C. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, the Blue Ocean and the corresponding Red Ocean strategies are used to described opposing approaches used by businesses to gain market share and achieve growth.

The red ocean is a concept used to identify the known market place where businesses compete head on against the competition striving to increase market share by either differentiating or driving costs down.  The competition is fierce with companies vying for customers with competing products.  As the market gets more crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced leaving the competitors “bloodied” from the fight, thus creating the “red oceans”.

On the other hand, the blue ocean strategy operates in the uncontested market place where competition does not exist and therefore is irrelevant.  These calm blue waters, untainted by competition, give birth to those products or services where demand can be created and then exploited.  Blue oceans denote all the industries not in existence today.  There are two ways to create blue oceans.  Companies can either create completely new industries like ebay did with online auctioning, or they can be developed from redefining the boundaries of existing red ocean industries like Apple did with iTunes.

Although the terms are relatively new, blue oceans have been around for at least 100 years.  The Ford Model T, the first Nickelodean theater and even the first Apple Computer were all blue ocean ideas.  They used existing technology in a new way to reach new and different customers.  Looking forward, as existing markets tighten, businesses will need to move from red to blue oceans to maintain success.  Blue oceans will remain the real engines of opportunity and growth for today’s businesses.