Meet the tweet-deleters: people who are making their Twitter histories self-destruct

Kevin Roose reports:

Lazin-Ryder is one of a number of Twitter users who are using homegrown methods to make their tweets self-destruct. He says that having his tweets disappear automatically makes Twitter feel more conversational and casual, and less like a professional pressure-cooker.

“Tweets are passing things,” he said. “I don’t laminate and frame my note-pad doodles, why would I preserve my tweets for all time?”

Full Story: Fusion: Meet the tweet-deleters: people who are making their Twitter histories self-destruct

I’ve been thinking about doing this, but I also really like using Timehop to explore old tweets. Split between Ephemera and atemporality.

(via Ellis)

See also:

Risk Reduction Strategies on Facebook

Pics and It Didn’t Happen

Sci-Fi Story Disguised As Twitter Bug Report

Tim Maly is at it again:

It was a post by Allison. Nothing special, something like “Mmmm tasty lunch” with an image attached. The image was a broken link. No big deal. I tried to find the original tweet but there was some problem with the unique ID and you don’t make it easy to page through past tweets. I’d have given up if I hadn’t noticed the timestamp.

The timestamp was in the future. Two days in the future. Weird bug. But @timebot was always a side project and I was on some big deadlines.?

Two days later, Allison decided to go to our favourite sandwich shop. I don’t know the details of what happened. But I do know that at 12:23:51pm on October 3rd, @allililly tweeted “Mmmm tasty lunch” with an image attached and no broken link. The timestamp matched. The unique ID matched. The formerly broken link in @timebot’s message now worked. I got that vertiginous feeling again.

To keep things simple, I’ll spare you the details of the next occurences, or of the time an errant tweet nearly broke up Sandra and her girlfriend. Let’s just say that I’m convinced that, somehow, @timebot is pulling not only tweets from the past, but tweets from the future.

Full Story: Twitter API returning results that do not respect arrow of time

Previously: Tim’s The Corporation Who Would Be King

The Federated Web Should Be Easier Than It Sounds

My response to Twitter’s suspension of journalist Guy Adams’ account and recent calls for a more open alternative to Twitter:

I’m interested in plans to build federated versions of the internet, including “darknets” like Freenet, Cryptosphere or wireless internet alternatives like Project Meshnet and the many many other project like it. But for those of us living in relatively free countries, just having an internet where everyone owns their own portable identity is good enough. Owning a domain name is a bit on the geeky side, but it’s not like asking people to learn to program or configure their own Linux servers. We can still rely on hosted services – as long as we can pack up and move out of them when the time comes.

What we need to build an open alternative to Twitter isn’t more standards. We already have Dave Winer’s microblog namespace for RSSPubSubHubbub and Activity Streams. What we need is a self-hostable, single user Twitter clone that can publish these formats (and optionally push to Twitter and other social networks). That was the idea that Winer was seemingly getting at last week with his own post on a Twitter alternative, but he focused more on all the tools that are out there for building something like this, and didn’t come out and say what it is we actually need. And that’s something that power users can get up and running relatively quickly without having to write it themselves and with the least amount of server fiddling possible. A WordPress of microblogs.

Sure we have StatusNet and other clones already. But these are designed for groups who want a private Twitter. I’m talking about is giving every user control of their feed by attaching it to their own domain name. One such thing exists already: PageCookery, but the site is in Chinese. Another option is to just run StatusNet and be the sole user on your server. There are also some WordPress microblog themes, but that seems like a clunky solution. It might be nice to see something that isn’t in PHP, but hey – PHP gets the job done and it’s easy for non-developers to get PHP apps running on commodity web hosting.

TechCrunch: The Federated Web Should Be Easier Than It Sounds

Notes from a William Gibson Q&A Session (9/08/10)

These are my notes from William Gibson’s Q&A session after his Zero History reading at Powells Books in Portland, OR on 9/08/2010 (here are some photographs from the evening). I thought initially that most of this would come up in other interviews, but I recently reviewed my notes and realized that although some of it has come up elsewhere, some of it is either unique or unusual. So I decided to type up my notes.

Gibson started off saying “Powells is the best book store in the world. It’s not even a book store, it’s a genre all to its own,” before reading the first chapter of Zero History. After the reading he said “The reason I write opening chapters the way I do is to get rid of all the people who won’t ‘get’ the book. They’re all fairly easy to read after the first chapter.” He then opened up to questions. Most, probably all, of these answers are incomplete – but close to direct quotes from larger answers. I didn’t ask most of these questions and didn’t get down the exact questions asked.

Q: What’s next?

Gibson: I have no idea. I have to have no idea. I know no one believes me, but I never intended to make trilogies. When I was learning about writing, I was told that trilogy was a long novel with a boring middle published separately. I think the books could be read in any order. I think I would be interesting to read these backwards. But maybe that’s too advanced.

[of course now he’s said that his next novel will probably be about the future]

Where do you go for inspiration?

I’m not a globe trotting writer/researcher. Wherever I happen to go usually ends up in the book. For example, I happened to go to Myrtle Beach a few months before I wrote the book and I thought it was suitably weird.

Asked about predictions.

I’m not interested in the sort of sci-fi that does or doesn’t predict the iPad. I’m interested in how people behave.

Asked about the intelligence communities in his books

I don’t want anyone to think I’ve gone “Tom Clancy” but what you find is that you have fans in every line of work. How reliable those narrators are I don’t know, but they tell a good story.

Asked about humor in his work.

Neuromancer was not without a comedic edge. My cyberpunk colleagues and I back in our cyberpunk rat hole sniggered mightily as we slapped our knees.

But writers can’t have more than two hooks. “Gritty, punky,” sure. “Gritty, punky, funny” doesn’t work.

I asked him about the slogan “Never in fashion, always in style” because I read that slogan on his blog and never found out what company that slogan actually belonged to.

Aero Leathers in Scotland. But they weight too much. You wouldn’t tour in a WWII motorcyle jacket unless of course you were on a WWII motorcycle. [Gibson reportedly wore an Acronym jacket on the Zero History tour]

Asked about Twitter

Twitter is the best aggregator of novelty anywhere. There’s more weird shit there than anywhere. It’s the equivalent value of $300 worth of imported magazines for free every day.

Asked about hypertext/electronic media and how it is changing his work.

The book is a cloud of hyperlinks. You can Google any unfamiliar phrase and you will be sort of walking in my shoes, going where I did in my research. The links are there, and there’s even some easter eggs.

I’m not sure what question this was in response to

I large part of my narrative comes from growing up in a particularly backwards part of the south, which had a particularly spoken culture.

Asked about his favorite contemporary writers

[Anything by Iian Sinclair, Zoo City by Lauren Bach, Jack Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence, which he found “wounding.”]

Asked about the punk influence on his work.

It wasn’t the Sex Pistols, it was Waylon and Willy.

Asked what sci-fi influenced him.

Certain sci-fi that never had much impact on the mainstream of the genre. My novels have had very little impact as well. If you don’t believe me, go down to a sci-fi specialist shop. Cyberpunk has become a descriptor – cyberpunk albums, cyberpunk pants.

Asked about cyberpunk’s legacy.

Anything with a manifesto ends up looking silly.

Asked what he thinks of the post-cyberpunk writers, Cory Doctorow et al.

I think the original cyberpunks were a little thin on the ground.

See also: William Gibson dossier.

The CIA Using Sentiment Analysis to Gauge Regional Stability

human geopolitical chess

From The Atlantic:

How stable is China? What are people discussing and thinking in Pakistan? To answer these sorts of question, the U.S. government has turned to a rich source: social media.

The Associated Press reports that the CIA maintains a social-media tracking center operated out of an nondescript building in a Virginia industrial park. The intelligence analysts at the agency’s Open Source Center, who other agents refer to as “vengeful librarians,” are tasked with sifting through millions of tweets, Facebook messages, online chat logs, and other public data on the World Wide Web to glean insights into the collective moods of regions or groups abroad. According to the Associated Press, these librarians are tracking up to five million tweets a day from places like China, Pakistan and Egypt.

The Atlantic: How The CIA Uses Social Media to Track How People Feel

See also: Predicting the future with Twitter.

Damon Lindelof: LOST in One Tweet

As you know, I’m no fan of the ending of LOST. But I was still pleased by Damon Lindelof’s participation in this Twitter meme.


Damaged people crash on damaged island. People fix each other, then island. All consumed in bright light. Yay! (or Boo!) #LOSTINONETWEET

Top 10 People to Follow on Twitter

I saw William Gibson‘s “Five to Follow” list for The National Post (congratulations on making the list Meredith!) and thought, since the Post will probably never ask me, I’d share my own list here.

These are the top 10 people I think readers of this blog should follow. I couldn’t break it down to five – 10 was hard enough! Apologies to everyone I left off – it was a hard list to write.

Chris Arkenberg. “Research, forecast, & strategy from the Left Coast. Tech, new media, energy, geopol, complex systems. Beatmaker, surfer, nature lover.” You can read my interview with him here.

bendito (((1/f)))). “Mathematics and particle astrophysics. Also writing a book or two.”

Kyle Findlay (aka Social Physicist). “Chaos, networks, reality. Itinerant scholar.” Read my interview with him here.

Tom Henderson (aka Mathpunk). “Mathematician, gamer, writer, comedian, eater of foods. Futurity now!” Read my interview with him here.

Wade A. Inganamort. “Screenwriter • Partner/Co-founder/Producer @HukilauNow.”

Rita J. King. “Co-Director (with @Josholalia) of IMAGINATION: Driving the Future of Education and Work.”

Venessa Miemis. “Digital ethnographer, futurist, blogger. MA in Media Studies.”

Alex Pang. “Historian | futurist | information ecologist.”

Theoretick. “I am a Quantum Mechanic working through my Love/Hate Relationship with Tech.”

Cat Vincent. “Essayist on occult/fortean topics, former professional exorcist & combat magician. Unnatural Philosopher. Lives in Bristol, England.”

And of course, if you want to follow me I’m @klintron on Twitter. You can also receive updates from this blog by following @techn0ccult.

Predicting the Future with Twitter

predicting the future with the news

The New York Times reports:

The number-crunchers on Wall Street are starting to crunch something else: the news.

Math-loving traders are using powerful computers to speed-read news reports, editorials, company Web sites, blog posts and even Twitter messages — and then letting the machines decide what it all means for the markets.

The development goes far beyond standard digital fare like most-read and e-mailed lists. In some cases, the computers are actually parsing writers’ words, sentence structure, even the odd emoticon. A wink and a smile — 😉 — for instance, just might mean things are looking up for the markets. Then, often without human intervention, the programs are interpreting that news and trading on it.

New York Times: Computers That Trade on the News

And Bloomberg reports:

Derwent Capital Markets, a family- owned hedge fund, will offer investors the chance to use Twitter Inc. posts to gauge the mood of the stockmarket, said co-owner Paul Hawtin.

The Derwent Absolute Return Fund Ltd., set to start trading in February with an initial 25 million pounds ($39 million) under management, will follow posts on the social-networking website. A trading model will highlight when the number of times words on Twitter such as “calm” rise above or below average.

Bloomberg: Hedge Fund Will Track Twitter to Predict Stock Moves

See also:

Sentiment analysis

Technical analysis

Decentralizing Twitter – And the Rest of the Web, Too


I just interviewed J Chris Anderson, the CFO of CouchOne, for ReadWriteWeb. CouchOne is the corporate sponsor of an open source database and programming language called CouchDB. Anderson recently started hosting a demo/proof of concept app called Twebz – a decentralized Twitter Client – built with CouchDB and node.js. Anderson explains how CouchDB could be used to decentralize not only Twitter, but most other web applications as well. It’s pretty geeky but could have big ramifications: This tech could help build a more resilient Internet in the face of disasters, cyberwarfare and censorship.

The aim is to allow you to interact with Twitter when Twitter is up and you are online. But if Twitter is down for maintenance or you are in the middle of nowhere, you can still tweet. And when you can reach Twitter again, it will go through.

If lots of folks are using it, then they can see each other’s tweets come in even when Twitter is down.

Mostly the goal was to show the way on how to integrate CouchDB with web services and APIs.

So if you did release this, and people started using it, and then one day Twitter decided “We’re done. We’re going to go raise pigs in the Ozarks,” Twebz would actually still be up and running fine basically forever and everyone could keep reading each other’s Tweets.

Yep. And as a side effect you have a complete personal Twitter archive of the folks you follow.

There’s even a feature to pull in the complete history of a user, so you can get the back fill of your closest friends if you want. […]

Could CouchDB and Node be used in conjunction to create some sort of decentralized darknet? Something along the lines of Freenet?

Node is a good fit for CouchDB because Couch encourages asynchronous background processes, but people also use Ruby / Python / Java for the same purposes. But yes, eventually the plan is that CouchDB will make web applications a lot more robust because they will no longer depend on a centralized point of failure. E.g., even if Twitter goes out of business, people can continue to share messages.

The turnover of Web 2.0 startups is so fast that I think users get discouraged from signing up for services. Why bother with a new photo share if there’s a chance it won’t be around in a year? But when those are CouchApps, users can continue to use them even if no one is maintaining them, which makes it more rational to invest time in using them. Imagine if Pownce or Dodgeball were still being run by fans.

ReadWriteHack: CouchOne’s J Chris Anderson On Decentralizing Twitter – And the Rest Of the Web

I asked him about “darknets” but what this really seems useful for is mesh networks.

For another example of how CouchDB is useful in low-connectivity settings, check out this case study on how Better Health Outcomes through Mentoring and Assessments is using CouchDB in rural Zambia.

For another example of a decentralized social network built on CouchDB, check out CouchAppspora, a port of Diaspora to CouchDB.

Update: Trevor reminds me that I should mention FidoNet for some historical context. PODSnet (Pagan Occult Distribution System Network) may be of particular interest to Technoccult readers.

‘LOL is this you?’ spam spreading via Facebook chat

According to Insecurity Complex the imfamous “LOL is this you?” phishing scheme that plagued Twitter a while back (a variant of it even snared Cory Doctorow) is now appearing on Facebook. The outbreak seems pretty minor and Facebook is working hard to quash it.

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