Created Endured Puzzled Over

Introducing: Wrong Remy

Like so many others, I have found Twitter a simultaneously fantastic and mind-numbing portion of the internet. For every good thing (extremely rapid notifications for breaking news, lots of good links from friends), there’s an equal and opposite bad thing (inane trending topics, spam bots). While most of these are universally shared, there’s one particular quirk that is not common.

Twitter makes it easy to reference other users – sticking an @ symbol in front of their name is considered a “mention” and most clients will flag this as relevant to the interests of those mentioned. This is theoretically good, but in practice a number of things become clear:

  • With characters at a premium, many people can’t be bothered to type out full user names.
  • Because a lot of people are using cell phones to post to Twitter, the habit of heavy SMS users to shorthand text continues here.
  • Because a lot of people don’t understand how mentions work, they tend to throw @ symbols wherever they feel like, or spaces in the middle of user names.

What this adds up to: if you were on the Twitter train early enough to get what could be called a stem username – one that might be used at the beginning of other user names – you may be subjected to mentions not intended for you.

There are a lot of Remy’s on Twitter, and I get a lot of mentions for them. I’ve taken to answering them on a Tumblr blog devoted specifically to such endeavors.

Sighing frustration + helpful cheerfulness + Twitter anthropology = Wrong Remy. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

(This is one of two side projects I’ll be introducing this week.)


Vimeo vs. Gamers

Today, in tech news:

  • Twitter has announced that they are banning all messages (or “tweets”) relating to Apple, due to capacity concerns, given the massive usage spikes during Apple keynotes and product releases.
  • Flickr announced that screenshots and drawn artwork will no longer be allowed for upload, as they do not truly constitute ‘creative expression’ and do not jive with the mission of the site.
  • LiveJournal specified new policy, banning posts about user’s parents. “We simply do not want to spend the money and resources to host these entries,” said management.

To users of these services, all of this probably sounds ridiculous. Sites based around user submitted content would be foolish to restrict content based on topic, media type, or content.

The above headlines are fake, but this one is not: Vimeo is banning videos related to video games.

“The Vimeo staff has decided that we are no longer going to allow gaming videos on Vimeo. Specifically, we are no longer going to allow game walk-throughs, game strategy videos, depictions of player vs player battles, raids, fraps, or any other video gaming videos that simply depict individuals playing a video game. Videos falling into this category will be subject to deletion as of September 1st; new videos of this type will be removed.” – Blake Whitman, Vimeo Staff


Examining Twinkle for the iPhone

Twinkle - Home

An interesting new iPhone Twitter client appeared within the development community over the weekend. It’s called Twinkle, and while there’s no official homepage for it, there is (naturally) a Twitter account.

The interface is clean, although it’s a little hard to read while you’re walking due to what looks like an 8pt font. But as for why it’s interesting:

Twinkle - Near Me

Twinkle is (through what is undoubtedly some interesting magic) using the iPhone location APIs to geolocate the messages sent through it. It also allows for pictures to be attached.

Curiously, unlike other attempts to add geographic metadata to Twitter, none of this information is stored within the Twitter message. (You can see this on the web version of the message pictured above.) Twinkleking has mentioned that the pictures are being stored on his/her/their web server, and I would assume the geolocation data is being similarly shadowed.

Twinkle - Post

While I’m not crazy about shadow systems like this, Twinkle does work terribly well at what it intends to do – it’s a very natural enhancement to the Twitter experience.

It also gets me thinking that, between this and some of the other technologies people have tried to shoehorn into Twitter, that Twitter itself may want to consider providing some sort of extensibility to their base message model. Being able to add machine-readable metadata to any tweet, much like the machine tags on Flickr, would allow for all sorts of useful enhancements without breaking the core model.