Tag Archives: twitter

Thoughts on Twitter Censorship

As the entire blogosphere probably knows by now, Twitter has announced that they will censor tweets on a per-country basis when requested by said countries.

Censorship requests will be tracked and made public via Chilling Effects.

Twitter’s rationale for this move is that otherwise, countries would simply outlaw or bring down Twitter within their territories, whereas with this new policy only the offending tweets will be removed (and only within the offended countries).

Transparently reporting every censorship request would theoretically place Twitter outside the fallout zone and put the blame squarely in the offending parties.

But put yourself in Joe Totalitarian’s shoes for a second. Would you want your censorship requests filed and openly available for all the world to see?

While Germany might not mind going on the record censoring pro-Nazi tweets, totalitarian regimes would much rather go nuclear on Twitter under the lame-but-all-inclusive excuse of “people were using Twitter to plot against the legitimate government” than asking Twitter to selectively censor all tweets with the word “democracy” in them.

Twitter’s move may open the door for more transparency in modern democracies; what it will do for those countries were freedom of speech really needs a helping hand remains to be seen.

[also available on my Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/114204703228150089266/posts/7eK8WSWhpQe]

Integrating Buffer into your iPad Twitter workflow

Frustrated that you can’t use Buffer from within your media consumption apps? Zite? Instapaper?

Read on to learn how to integrate Buffer into your info-pr0n apps for easy one-click, queued tweets.

Buffer is a web service that lets you schedule your tweets so they are published at pre-set times throughout the day.
Buffer schedules your tweets

I regularly read Zite and Flipboard in the morning and retweet anything I find interesting. At night, it’s time for Instapaper. While browsing throughout the day I use the Buffer bookmarklet to make sure my tweets go into my publish queue. No such luck when using Zite, Flibpoard or Instapaper since they’re not integrated with Buffer.

So I end up publishing a ton of info early in the morning and late at night, which may not be the best approach.

How can I use Buffer from within Zite, Instapaper and Flipboard if it’s not integrated into them?

I’ve found a nice workaround using a web service called IFTTT (ifttt.com – If This, Then That) that allows you to create a workflow using a number of web apps, such as Delicious, Instapaper, Gmail, etc. [Hit me up for invites if you want to try it.]

The idea is to create a one-click workflow that allows you to share content through your Buffer queue without having to re-format e-mails, copy, paste or any extra steps you might be needing at the moment.

ifttt puts the internet to work for you by creating tasks that fit this simple structure:Using IFTTT to integrate Buffer with your iPad twitter workflowThink of all the things you could do if you were able to define any task as: when something happens (this) then do something else (that).

My IFTTT setup:

I’ve created two tasks that solve the Buffer issue for Zite and Instapaper.

I’ve connected IFTTT to my Delicious account, my Instapaper account and my Gmail account.

There’s 3 bits of magic that help make this happen:

  1. Instapaper offers an RSS feed of your liked items.
  2. Zite posts to your Delicious account using a via:zite tag.
  3. Buffer offers you an email address where you can send your tweets to queued.

Now, on IFTTT create two tasks:

1. Send Delicious bookmarks from Zite to Buffer:

if [there’s a new bookmark tagged via:zite in your Delicious account] then [send an e-mail with the bookmark from your Gmail account to Buffer’s e-mail address]

Now all you need to do to share articles from within the Zite app is click on the Save to Delicious button.

2. Send liked Instapaper items to Buffer:

Using IFTTT to integrate Buffer with your iPad twitter workflowUse a New feed item from channel to check your Instapaper Liked Items feed.

if [there are new items on your Instapaper liked feed] then [send an e-mail with the article from your Gmail account to Buffer’s e-mail address].

You’ll find your Instapaper Liked Items feed at the bottom of your Instapaper Liked page, where it says This folder’s RSS.

Just like any article in Instapaper and off it goes into your Buffer queue (please note that Instapaper takes a while to refresh your RSS feed, so this may not be instantaneous – not that it matters, since you’re queuing them for later anyway).

In both cases, set the e-mail’s subject to the title of the bookmark/article ({{title}}) and the body to the url ({{url}}). You can edit to your liking to add additional info to your tweets.

For Flipboard, we can take advantage that Buffer’s email address begins with “add” and the emails are formatted in a way that plays nice with Buffer. Simply select Email Link, begin typing “add” until autocomplete shows the Buffer address (usually at the top) and send away. (The reason I don’t use this same approach with Zite is that Zite truncates the article title when e-mailing).

There you go. Buffer integrated with my most-used info-pr0n apps. Sweet.

Use this link to create your own Buffer account and receive one extra tweet space in your buffer: http://bufferapp.com/r/e32e1

How do you integrate Buffer into your daily workflow? Let me know in the comments.

And if you enjoyed this post, please retweet it and follow me on Twitter @cgranier.

Unboxing “The World According to Twitter”

Today I received my autographed copy of “The World according to Twitter” (TWA2T) by David Pogue and a couple thousand of his Twitter friends. In the tradition of tech geeks everywhere, behold: the unboxing of TWA2T!

Here we go:

1. The original package with a dog logo. I had NO IDEA what this was.


2. Anticipating it could be Pogue’s book, I quickly ripped into it:


3. YES! My own copy of The World according to Twitter:


4. Here it is, in it’s full glory:


5. I jumped to the first page, to find the book autographed to me – that’s my Twitter name there, @cgranier:


6. The index shows every contributor, cross-linked to the page(s) where their tweets ended up. In the end, three of my tweets made it into the book, on pages 98 and 181:


7. Here’s one of them:

What’s your brilliant idea to improve the modern automobile:

Car’s paint color should change (à la mood ring) to indicate temper of driver. –@cgranier


8. And the other two:

Rewrite a famous quotation in the style of the half-wits who leave comments on YouTube.

2 B R NOT 2B, DAT IZ DE ? –@cgranier

Dewd, like I don care where u go, but 4 me, I haz liberty or kill me. FTW! –@cgranier


I spent the better part of the evening reading through the book and couldn’t stop laughing. It’s simply hilarious (well, at least the other 2,521 tweets). The wit and creativity of its contributors had me in side-splitting laughter from the beginning. Get a copy or two. I’ll even sign it if you want 😉

UPDATE: Here’s a short video David Pogue made, documenting the book signing:

Pogue’s Twitter-Book Signing Day from david pogue on Vimeo.

David Pogue attempts to sign 1500 books in one day.

UPDATE: Here’s an excerpt from the book… 28 free pages:

The World According to Twitter

If you’re in the book, leave me a message with your username so I can look up your funny tweets. And please feel free to share this post with all your Twitter friends. I’ve made it really easy: just click the retweet badge located at the top and bottom of this post, or just click here.


The Pros and Cons of Twitter as News Source

In just one day, Twitter proved its worth as a viable news source while at the same time demonstrating how easy it is to spread false information.

While Twitter makes the spread of information quick and painless (when Twitter itself isn’t acting up) it also makes the spread of false news that much easier as well. Louis Gray reports how today, the long debunked myth of the Subway guy’s death, resurfaced on Twitter via some highly connected folk like Kevin Rose of Digg and Adam Ostorow of Mashable. Read Louis’ highly informative post, “Smart People, Stupid Tweets. Fake News Spreads Fast on Twitter“, for more information.

I’ve posted before about the large number of news organizations using Twitter for breaking news, but Louis describes the problem perfectly:

“The combination of a rush to publish and a low barrier to entry for microblogging makes posting quick notes to Twitter extremely tempting for people who are trying to break news.”

In the process, fact-checking seems to get thrown out the window, much the same way gossip spreads. The problem isn’t so much those who post false news, but -as is also the case with gossip- those who repeat it (and often embellish it) without checking out the facts.

On the other hand, Twitter -and even more so, Summize and ESPN’s website- proved vital for anyone trying to follow the EURO 2008 semifinal game between Germany and Turkey. A storm knocked out the International Broadcast Center in Vienna, leaving anyone watching the game around the world staring at a blank screen.

I jumped on Twitter for more information, but Twhirl quickly informed me that I had “exceeded” my tweet limit -even though I haven’t been on Twitter all day. It seemed “information blackout” was the note of the day.

Summize, however, saved the day by aggregating relevant commentary from all over the world.


ESPN’s own Live Commentary from their online GameCast provided just enough information to “see” what we were missing. It seems that ESPN reporters had access to the radio broadcast of the game and were able to fill us in with the details.


Just another day on the information super highway.

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The MiamiTwits Twitter Group

Following Technosailor‘s lead, and using his code, I’ve setup the MiamiTwits Twitter group for people in the Miami, FL area (and anyone else, really) who wish to subscribe.

All you need is:

  • a twitter account (of course)
  • follow @MiamiTwits
  • send a direct message to the group (e.g., d MiamiTwits Hello Miami!) and it will be automatically broadcast to the entire group.


Tracking conversations with Twitter

Twitter just unveiled a new feature that allows you to track any word when it comes up in a public Twitter conversation. You could, for instance, instruct Twitter to let you know every time your name comes up in a conversation, or your hometown, favorite band, or latest trend you’re tracking.

Currently, tracking only works through Twitter’s web and IM interfaces, which turns out to be a good thing.

This is how I’ve set up tracking:

  1. I use Twitter on my Mac through Twitterrific, which -as you will see- allows me to keep tracking results separate from my day-to-day twittering.
  2. Set up an IM account for Twitter. This will allow you to access the tracking functionality and receive results through your IM software. I use AdiumX and Twitter messages me through my gmail chat account.Twitter IM Setup
  3. On your Twitter friends page, set Notifications OFF for all users (so their messages won’t show up on your IM and get lost amid tracking results). You’ll still get all their messages through Twitterrific.Twitter Notifications Setup
  4. Using your IM software, send a message to the Twitter IM bot with tracking instructions. If, for example, you want to track any mention of Google’s stock ticker (GOOG), then simply send the message “track GOOG” to Twitter. You’ll immediately begin receiving updates, via IM, of any public Twitter conversation where the term “GOOG” comes up. The great thing about this is that your normal Twitter conversations will remain free of this additional message traffic.Twitter Tracking
  5. Once you see something interesting come up in your tracking results, you can use “whois username” to find out more about the person behind the post, and “follow username” to begin following this person on Twitter.
  6. If you decide to stop tracking a certain term, simply send “untrack term” to Twitter, via your IM software or the web interface. Send “track” to get a list of search terms currently being tracked.

It just occurred to me, while writing this post, that you could set up a nice stock tracker using this system. Simply enter the ticker symbol of whatever stock you’re interested in and see what the Twittersphere spews out. I’m gonna try it out and see what people are twittering about my favorite stocks.

What about you? How are you using Twitter’s tracker?

Using Twitter as a Marketing Tool

A friend recently asked me about ways his clients could use the power of social networks. As I was explaining to him the nuances of socnets as marketing tools, it occurred to me that Twitter could be used as a powerful marketing weapon. Imagine being able to immediately reach your clients with breaking news at zero cost.

Here are some examples, for different industries:

  • Retail: inform clients of new promotions, sales, time-limited offers, etc.
  • Real Estate: post new properties the moment they come on the market.
  • News: breaking news, behind the scenes info, insights into developing stories.

In this context, it’s no different than an RSS feed to which your readers subscribe – except that Twitter is somehow more immediate, and more personal than an RSS feed. Twitter, you see, is a two-way communications medium, whereas RSS is one way.

I searched the internet for more examples of people using Twitter in this context. One company using this is Woot.com, a website where you can buy items at ridiculous prices during a short amount of time (and very small inventories). I subscribed to Woot’s Twitter feed to check it out: Woot broadcasts the latest deals via Twitter. If you’re into the whole Woot thing, you’ll want to be informed as quickly as possible about new deals, as they usually go quite fast. Receiving a short tweet (that’s what a Twitter message is called) on your cellphone or Twitter app is preferable to constantly checking the Woot home page. After all, some of us have work to do.

Woot’s Twitter solution is as simple as it gets. You subscribe, you receive a tweet every time a new product comes up for sale (or when a product sells out). It’s one way (you don’t get to talk back), but who wants to talk to an automated script anyway?

Guy Kawasaki also uses Twitter as a marketing tool, this time to advertise new posts that appear on his Truemors website. But he sends too many tweets throughout the day and he won’t automatically add you to his list, which means you can’t talk back to him.

Robert Scoble, of Scobelizer fame does get it. He doesn’t send too many tweets, and he will automatically add you to his Twitter list if you add him to yours. Seems to me like the right thing to do. I certainly don’t want to be listening to someone’s tweets if I can’t reach back to him when I want to follow up on something he said.

NBC’s Jim Long uses his Twitter account to share behind-the-scenes looks while he’s off on secret media tours to Iraq or following President Bush to Australia. Though he won’t automatically add you to his list (so that you can tweet him), I get the feeling he would if you ask nice enough (and I suppose Guy Kawasaki would too. The problem with this it that you need to be able to contact them through some other means, as it’s not possible through the Twitter interface). Jim does, however, post a little too much as he tries to keep the conversation on a very personal level. [UPDATE: Jim’s mentioned on the comments that he does automatically follow people on Twitter.]

Here’s a short list of Dos and Don’ts if you plan on using Twitter as a marketing tool:

  1. Do use Twitter to sell your products, ideas, offers, insights, etc.
  2. Do advertise your Twitter account on your website, business card and marketing literature. Here’s mine.
  3. Do create a conversation. Add your users to your Twitter account. Let those who listen to you, talk to you.
  4. Don’t spam. Really. You don’t have to post everything to Twitter… your important messages will get lost amid the junk. If yours is a high-volume Twitter channel, let users know before hand.
  5. Don’t rely on Twitter 100%. Twitter’s service has been down a lot lately. Use Twitter as one more tool in your social media toolbox.

What about you? How do you use Twitter?