If you’ve just signed on to twitter and are used to other social network sites such as Facebook, the sheer amount of information that twitter presents and the not-so-friendly user interface might be a little daunting.
Thankfully, Twitter has opened up it’s API to allow smart code monkeys to develop all sorts of interesting visualisations and tools. Here’s my list of the top five (With a bonus or two!):
Tweetdeck is a beautifully polished desktop application to view your twitter stream. Tweetdeck happily sits in the background and keeps a track of your friends, replies and direct messages as well as allowing you to group followers into handy buckets. It’s the simplicity of the interface that really provides the real benefit here, it’s a pleasure to use. Written using Adobe AIR means it installs nicely on Windows and Mac, as well as Linux with a little messing.
TwitScoop exposes the benefit of Twitter that some are calling a possible “Google Killer” – Real-time search. While you might have to wait a few hours or a day for google to have information on the latest happenings, twitter delivers information from thousands of people as events unfold. Twitscoop lets you see what phrases people are most tweeting about at the moment, and which way they’re trending.
I’ve heard social networks described in the phrase:
“Facebook is for catching up with people you used to know, Twitter is for networking with people you want to know”.
So if this is true, who should I be following? (The answer of course, is me. ;) ) – Luckily who should I follow have answered this question nicely. Using the Twitter API to figure out people who are similar to the people you are currently following, who should I follow gives you a page of recommendations which can be tweaked to find people who are more or less popular, or closer to a specific location. (And they’re aware that ‘Whom should I follow’ is more gramatically correct, but they don’t care. Good for them).
www.tweetree.com provides a nice visual filter for people who might be more used to Facebook or forums – Threaded discussions between users. If you’ve ever tried to pick through an extended conversation between people you’re following on the twitter website and found it frustrating, this might be for you. It provides a much more attractive view on who is talking to whom, and nicely separates out links that people post too. You have to provide your twitter username and password, but they insist it’s never stored anywhere. That said, they don’t seem to use HTTPS on their login form…
Companies have started realising that social networking is a very targetted way to service their customers. For example, I’m interested in pursuing an MBA and sent out a random tweet asking if anyone had any advice. In response I got a nice chap from Queen’s School of Business in Ontario who was happy to help with any questions. These people are on the ball, but they’re not alone. More and more companies are viewing what their customers are writing about them, and hoping to address questions and potential negative publicity proactively.
Twitterhawk is this concept taken the the next logical step – automation. Twitterhawk provides an automated service to answer these sorts of queries with content you provide. Admittedly this could be plenty spammy in the wrong hands, but it fits into the category of web app that I like to call “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that”.
- Bonus round!
Twitter Mosaic is a cute little application for the narcissists in the house. Pretty simply it displays your legion of followers or friends, and lets you slap their adoring faces on to mug, business card, t-shirt, or bag. Also, you get a nice chunk of HTML you can put on your web page which displays a mosaic of their profile pictures.
- Bonus round #2!
I’m not entirely sure what Twecipe is yet, but it’s from the clever foodies behind LookandTaste.com. The name would suggest some amalgamation of twitter and recipes. At the very least, I think it’ll keep the gourmet snob in me happy.