Tag Archives: twitter

Is Google+ just another Chrome?

I’ve been really frustrated with Google+ slowly consuming all the rest of Google services, because I find it so deficient compared to Twitter, and even Facebook. My long form content lives here, on my own server, in my own blog. Both Twitter and Facebook make it easy to also have that content live a life in their platform.

Google+… not so much. We’re more than 6 months after launch, and still no API besides scraping public posts. As such, I spend little time over there, and largely disdain the system, which doesn’t loose much, because there are so few people generating content there anyway. With the launch of their “Google+ your world” search yesterday, I was even more frustrated. G+, still with no API, is now infiltrating the search rankings. Grrrr.

But this morning, I read this, and it occurred to me, what if G+ is another Chrome. By that I mean a project that isn’t meant to be a market leader by itself, but one that’s meant to shape a market to keep it fluid. Twitter and Facebook have a pretty epic duopoly on content right now, and they are both working to make it harder to consume outside of their bubble. This summer they both quietly killed RSS feeds off. You can still consume via their API, but even in that front Twitter’s been waging a bit of a war on their API consumers, retaking the Mobile UI.

So maybe G+ was really a reaction to a trend Google was seeing, that the gated communities were throwing up more and more restrictions to making their content searchable in Google. Instead of bringing lawyers, bring technology. Make a competitor that is searchable, and get the gated communities to now really want to be included in the results. Make the market fluid again.

Maybe. I’m not sure I’ve even convinced my self of this. But it would explain some of the areas of focus in G+. It would also explain why public posts API is the only one they’ve released so far. At the end of the day, the social giant fight matters little to me, as long as I can syndicate into them, which is why the lack of G+ write API (and associated WordPress plugin) is my biggest concern. So while this softens my feelings on G+ a little, I really do wish they’d actually make the platform way more open. Then I might feel it was worth investing in content and discussions there. Until then, you can find my quick bits over on Twitter, and the long form ideas here, with Disqus, which makes it really easy to comment or converse outside the duopoly bubble.

Why you need an API

I’ve been playing around with Thinkup, which you should too, if you value any content you create for Twitter or Facebook. For the twitter side they’ve got this nice graph of clients you’ve used. Here is mine:

This, as far as I’m concerned, explains why you need an API. Less than 10% of the content that I’ve created in twitter comes from their official web interface. And even my most used interface only represents 1/2 of my content. This is only possible because Twitter has been API strong since the beginning.

If you are building a platform to publish information, it has to have a web services API. Otherwise you are going to massively limit the ways that your users can and will publish information.

Twitter vs. Open Source Clients

Apparently you can no longer legitimately use Twitter with open source clients, Ars has a lot of details around the implications of the way Twitter just rolled out OAuth.

Twitter’s OAuth implementation and open source clients

Requiring third-party developers to embed a consumer secret key in the source code of their Twitter client applications potentially puts free and open source (FOSS) client software at greater risk of key exposure than closed-source client software. The key would be visible as plain text in the source code, where anybody could find it and use it for their own purposes. Indeed, one can already easily find dozens of OAuth consumer secret keys by using Google’s code search engine.

Twitter felt that allowing FOSS Twitter clients to use OAuth posed an unacceptable risk. The company warned that it would invalidate any OAuth keys that it found published in the source code of FOSS client applications. This was deeply troubling to the developers who maintain such software, including me. I am the developer behind Gwibber, a GPL-licensed microblogging client that is used in Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.

This is a damn shame.  I just fixed up my little script that talks to twitter, and I’ll be publishing keys out to github later this week because it’s asinine that they would build an interface which makes it overly burdensome to use open source clients.  OAuth has some neat ideas in it, but making it fundamentally Free and Open Source hostile seems like a bad direction to go.