Raw Thought

by Aaron Swartz

My Twitter Viewer

I published this on Twitter, but here’s a blog post as well:

I made a little Twitter viewer that takes a Tweet ID (you can find them in the URL of a tweet’s page on twitter.com) and shows you the whole conversation for that tweet.

Some examples:

The idea is to a) make it easier to read these conversations, b) make it easier to provide replies, c) provide a permanent link to what’s becoming an increasingly-important conversation space.

Let me know what you think.

You should follow me on twitter here.

January 4, 2011


Excellent work.

posted by James on January 4, 2011 #

Great idea. Nice.

posted by Thomas David Baker on January 4, 2011 #

It’s absurd that Twitter doesn’t provide this service itself.

posted by Carl on January 4, 2011 #

Very nice. I found myself looking for time of day on the tweets to see how much time had elapsed between the various messages.

posted by Jeff Clark on January 4, 2011 #

Nice work Aaron!

I actually built the same thing a year ago at http://twitlr.com/ but it was before the related_results method was available in the API so it’s very hacky and only supports a single thread.

Can’t believe Twitter still don’t provide a UI for conversation threading. The #newtwitter interface does show you the preceding tweet in a conversation but that’s it. I guess they’re happy enough to let client applications implement it.

posted by John Blackbourn on January 4, 2011 #

Very nice. I’ve been using http://bettween.com for this, but yours is nicer.

posted by Ry4an on January 4, 2011 #

This is fantastic. Thanks.

posted by Lawrence on January 4, 2011 #

Nice! There’s http://www.exquisitetweets.com/ which does almost exactly the same and let’s you create random collections of tweets, but it’s a little slow sometimes due to loading lots of background images.

posted by Julian on January 4, 2011 #

I’ve seen other services that try to do this, and all of them so far have had a fatal shortcoming: if @tom writes multiple replies to a single one of @harry’s tweets, then the tool finds only one of them. So you get only a shard of the actual conversation. This is further compounded if @harry then responds to tweets from @tom that the tool didn’t detect as part of the conversation. Sometimes the thread shown is so incomplete as to be completely useless.

Does yours handle this situation?

posted by Aristotle Pagaltzis on January 4, 2011 #

It’s just so much work having to a.)open the time stamp link in a new tab, b.) copy the Tweet ID from the url c.) go the Twitter conversation viewer page and d.) paste the Tweet ID into the box. Couldn’t you make a Fire Fox extension that I could just right click the the time stamp and select a menu item that would open a tab with the url “http://twitter.theinfo.org/” appended with the Tweet ID in a new tab?

This is also my complaint for every time that I have used it, I get a message saying that I should complain to you.

But seriously, I am trying to make such an extension in my own slow way. It seems like an easy enough idea to start with. I doubt if any thing I came up with would suit anyone. However if you came up with one, you could probably make some money from ads. If not on the conversation page, from a page that would appear every time the extension was updated.

posted by James Hardy on January 5, 2011 #

I saw this tool mentioned on Twitter and I quite like it, Aaron. Thanks for putting it together and making it available.

One immediate minor upgrade I’d like to see: allow the user to supply the permalink for the tweet in question and have your software pull the Tweet ID out of that. Far easier for a human (well, me, anyway) to be reading my twitter stream, find a tweet where I’d like to see the whole conversation, right-click and copy the link, and then open your site in a new tab, say, from a bookmark.

I grant that your bookmarklet already does a lot of this; e.g., if I open the particular tweet in the new tab and then click your bookmarklet, but even though the first process sounds more complicated, it’s the more natural way I think of doing something like this. Don’t make me think, as the saying goes.

I agree with James Hardy above that it’d be even handier to have a Firefox extension to further streamline the process, but the request I’m making seems considerably quicker and easier to implement. (Perhaps in the meantime, if you’re thinking about doing more work on this.)

posted by bjkeefe on January 6, 2011 #

I meant to add another minor gripe I have with the bookmarklet: Call me obsessive, but browser screen real estate is always at a premium for me, particularly vertically. Therefore, I dislike having to have the bookmark toolbar in Firefox showing.

posted by bjkeefe on January 6, 2011 #

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