Tweetstorms have been getting a horrific reputation lately.  But used properly, they can sometimes have an excellent and beneficial effect. In fact, recently I’ve seen some journalists using it for both marketing and on the spot analysis in their areas of expertise.Even today Aram Zucker-Scharff, a journalism critic in his own tweetstorm , suggests that this UI form may have an interesting use case in relation to news outlets like CNN which make multiple changes to a news story which lives at one canonical (and often not quickly enough archived) URL, but which is unlikely to be visited multiple times:
Why not publish a sequence of small stories that connect together rather than one big one on the same URL that keeps changing?
Why not publish a sequence of small stories that connect together rather t
— Aram Zucker-Scharff (@Chronotope) February 10, 2017
A newsstorm-type user experience could better lay out the ebb and flow of a particular story over time and prevent the loss of data, context, and even timeframe that otherwise occurs on news websites that regularly update content on the same URL. (Though there are a few tools in the genre like Memento which could potentially be useful.)
It’s possible that tweetstorms could even be useful for world leaders who lack the focus to read full sentences formed into paragraphs, and possibly even multiple paragraphs that run long enough to comprise articles, research documents, or even books. I’m not holding my breath though.
Technical problems for tweetstorms
But the big problem with tweetstorms–even when they’re done well and without manthreading–is actually publishing them quickly, rapidly, and without letting any though process between one tweet and the next.
Noter Live–the solution!
Last week this problem just disappeared: I think Noter Live has just become the best-in-class tool for tweetstorms.
Noter Live was already the go-to tool for live tweeting at conferences, symposia, workshops, political debates, public fora, and even live cultural events like the Superbowl or the Academy Awards. But with a few simple tweaks Kevin Marks, the king of covering conferences live on Twitter, has just updated it in a way that allows one to strip off the name of the speaker so that an individual can type in their own stream of consciousness simply and easily.
But wait! It has an all-important added bonus feature in addition to the fact that it automatically creates the requisite linked string of tweets for easier continuous threaded reading on Twitter…
When you’re done with your screed, which you probably wrote in pseudo-article form anyway, you can cut it out of the Noter Live app, dump it into your blog (you remember?–that Twitter-like app you’ve got that lets you post things longer than 140 characters at a time?), and voila! The piece of writing that probably should have been a blog post anyway can easily be archived for future generations in a far more readable and useful format! And for those who’d prefer a fancier version, it can also automatically add additional markup, microformats, and even Hovercards!
Bonus tip, after you’ve saved the entire stream on your own site, why not tweet out the URL permalink to the post as the last in the series? It’ll probably be a nice tweak on the nose that those who just read through a string of 66 tweets over the span of 45 minutes were waiting for!
So the next time you’re at a conference or just in the mood to rant, remember Noter Live is waiting for you.
Aside: I really wonder how it is that Twitter hasn’t created the ability (UX/UI) to easily embed an entire tweetstorm in one click? It would be a great boon to online magazines and newspapers who more frequently cut and paste tweets from them to build articles around. Instead most sites just do an atrocious job of cutting and pasting dozens to hundreds of tweets in a long line to try to tell these stories.
Sooner or later, enough people I like are going to abandon the service, and the pain-to-pleasure ratio will tip unfavorably. I don't know how Twitter will survive 2017 without making some drastic changes to its service. Maybe it's already too late.
On January 1st, Sherman Alexie announced in a Twitter post that he was leaving Twitter. The tweet read, in its entirety:
Hey folks, I’m leaving Twitter because its negatives increasingly outweigh its positives. Thank you for the follows.
Some speculated that Alexie’s account had been hacked, but Alexie confirmed over email with the Seattle Review of Books that he decided to leave Twitter. His Twitter account appears to have been deleted (or at least deactivated) since that January 1st posting.
Alexie isn’t the only writer to leave Twitter. Ta-Nehisi Coates announced yesterday that he was leaving the service for a year to work on his next book:
Ok. So I’m gonna take the year to try my hand at this fancy book writin’ stuff. See y’all in ’18. Take us out, Queen… pic.twitter.com/kLISnrMJE9
I hate to disappoint anyone, but the breaking point for me wasn’t the trolls themselves (if I have learned anything from the dark side of Twitter, it is how to feel nothing when a frog calls you a cunt) – it was the global repercussions of Twitter’s refusal to stop them.
These three writers didn’t coordinate their mass exodus. They’re each leaving Twitter for different reasons. But it’s clear that Twitter is approaching a tipping point.
Writers (including West) have complained for years about the platform’s popularity with trolls. Twitter has acknowledged its troll problem, but it has not done much to stem the tides of neo-Nazis, so-called men’s rights “activists,” and other deplorable people who use the platform to anonymously harass and demean anyone they dislike. Twitter has done little to troll-proof their service over the past few years even as they’ve added and promoted an array of advertiser-friendly features. They have made their priorities clear: they care much more about shilling products than listening to their users.
And now the most powerful troll on the planet, Donald Trump, uses Twitter as his preferred communication platform. In fact, Twitter has become synonymous with Trump in a very uncomfortable way. It’s hard to use Twitter these days without feeling like you’re contributing to the feeding of the black hole of attention that is Trump. You can’t escape the sensation that no matter how you respond to Trump’s proclamations on Twitter — positively, negatively, indifferently — you’re still nothing more than a tiny, doomed satellite in his orbit.
On a less apocalyptic level, other writers have complained for years that Twitter is a time-suck, that it gets in the way of writing, and reading, and living. Why provide free content for a free social media service with questionable morals, they say, when you could be writing your next book? It’s a great question.
Even I, a Twitter-lover from way back, don’t enjoy using the service very much anymore. Some people use Twitter to communicate complicated ideas in nigh-unreadable threaded “tweetstorms” that violate the idea of what Twitter is supposed to do. Others use it as Facebook-lite, another way to share insipid memes and reinforce their own sheltered worldviews. And every time Trump tweets, he causes another earthquake in which people retweet, riposte, and rehash every last syllable. Too many users are trying too hard to be funny while the world burns around them: sometimes, Twitter feels like a convention of awful Jon Stewart impersonators, all trying and failing to be witty and original in exactly the same way.
Simply, Twitter is not very fun anymore.
A few things keep me invested in the service. There’s no better way to learn about breaking news, for one thing. For another, I follow a lot of very smart people, and I would miss their insights. Thirdly, as much as I hate Twitter, I hate every other social network even more: Snapchat is better for personal communication; Instagram requires photos, which aren’t my thing; and Facebook’s molasses-slow algorithm and chirpy, endlessly positive vibe makes Twitter look downright attractive in comparison.
But sooner or later, enough people I like are going to abandon the service, and the pain-to-pleasure ratio will tip unfavorably. I don’t know how Twitter will survive 2017 without making some drastic changes to its service. Maybe it’s already too late.
Our friend Andrew Eckford has spent some time over the holiday improving his Twitter bot Primes as a Service. He launched it in late Spring of 2016, but has added some new functionality over the holidays. It can be relatively handy if you need a quick answer during a class, taking an exam(?!), to settle a bet at a mathematics tea, while livetweeting a conference, or are hacking into your favorite cryptosystems.
Tweet a positive 9-digit (or smaller) integer at @PrimesAsAService. It will reply via Twitter to tell you if the number prime or not.
Some of the usable commands one can tweet to the bot for answers follow. (Hint: Click on the buttons with the tweet text to auto-generate the relevant Tweet.)
Choking down “flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings” and dealing with bathrooms that “transport diners to the experience of desperately searching for toilet paper at a Venezuelan grocery store” were uncomfortable enough. But Vanity Fair reporter Tina Nguyen feared a...
Photo by Michael Vadon, via Flickr
Choking down “flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings” and dealing with bathrooms that “transport diners to the experience of desperately searching for toilet paper at a Venezuelan grocery store” were uncomfortable enough. But Vanity Fair reporter Tina Nguyen feared a more severe round of indigestion after her Wells-ian skewering of the Trump Grill attracted the Twitter ire of the president-elect.
Nguyen’s piece, which was posted to Vanity Fair’s website last Wednesday, characterizes both the restaurant and its namesake as “a cheap version of rich.” The response from Donald Trump came at 5 a.m. Thursday, when the president-elect tweeted about Vanity Fair (“Way down, big trouble, dead!”) and its “no talent” editor in chief, Graydon Carter.
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!
Astute Twitterati quickly connected the outburst to Nguyen’s review, and the writer was alerted to the coming deluge of attention by one of her editors. “Emotionally, I was kind of shocked,” Nguyen tells CJR. “I was expecting that piece to get some pick-up, but I didn’t think it was going to get the attention of the man who is going to be the most powerful person in the world in about five weeks.”
Along with the shock, Nguyen also expressed some level of fear. “Rationally, I was worried I would be doxxed,” she says, referring to the practice of publishing people’s private information with malicious intent. Trump supporters have already doxxed dozens of journalists they viewed as anti-Trump.
In a set of actions that other media outlets would be wise to study, the Vanity Fair public relations team quickly contacted Nguyen. “They kept an eye out for anyone who tried to release my address or my phone number or even tried to call me through the Condé [Nast] switchboard,” she says. “They were on top of their game, so big credit to them.”
Carter, the Vanity Fair editor, has a long-running feud with Trump dating to the former’s days at Spy Magazine, where he coined the phrase “short-fingered vulgarian” to describe the real estate mogul who served as society page catnip. In 2013, Trump issued his own review of Carter’s restaurant, The Waverly Inn: “worst food in city [sic].” So it should come as no surprise that Carter delighted in getting under Trump’s skin.
Dopey Graydon Carter, who is presiding over dying @VanityFair magazine, is also presiding over dying Waverly Inn—worst food in city.
“He was pretty happy with it,” Nguyen said of Carter’s reaction to her piece. She declined to give details about his feedback, but noted that “it was very flattering, and I still don’t quite know how to process it.” Trump’s criticism has been good for Vanity Fair’s bottom line, too. In the day after the president-elect posted his tweet, the magazine reported signing up 13,000 new subscribers, the best single-day number in Condé Nast’s history.
Nguyen says the threats she feared have not materialized, and she has received congratulations from around the industry. “It feels like far too strong praise for someone who has strong opinions about burgers and eating eyeballs,” Nguyen says. “But if it takes something as absurd as that and something as straightforward as saying, ‘Look Donald Trump, I just don’t like your cocktails,’ then I give Vanity Fair the credit for allowing me to write something like that, and supporting it even when a very scary man tweeted his displeasure toward it.”
Pete Vernon is a CJR Delacorte Fellow. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.
Twitter ditched its stars in favor of hearts to “like” Tweets, and now, to get more people using Twitter, it is considering replacing its iconic “Retweet” button. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Twitter has been testing a new version of its mobile app that drops the current Retweeting icon, along with the arrow for replying to a tweet, and respectively replaces them with a circular icon for “sharing” options and a speech bubble:
These are the current icons, for reference:
Twitter confirmed the test to us, adding that it was trying to see how it changed behavior on the site.
“We’re testing new icons on Tweets to evaluate how this impacts the way that people use Twitter,” a spokesperson said in an email.
With the new sharing button, the current two choices of “Retweet” and “Quote Tweet” will be augmented by two more options. As noticed by Twitter user @lasersushi and appearing here in German, the new menu is Retweet, Quote Tweet, Send by Direct Message, and Share Tweet (taking you to the usual menu to share that you get today).
This is not the first time that Twitter has mulled replacing retweets with sharing. Back in 2014, it also toyed with the idea, although, it seems, without a change to its iconography.
The retweet has been a core part of the Twitter experience from early on, as a way to share content you’ve seen on the service more easily. Twitter has made moves to update it over time to encourage more use of it. For example, in June it started to let users retweet themselves.
Why test out a new way to share? Twitter’s test to roll up and expand sharing options points to how the company, which currently has 313 million monthly active users, has continued to try to figure out better ways of making the service more mainstream and less full of its own jargon.
Critics say that Twitter-specific lingo and special way of doing things puts off new or infrequent tweeters from using the service more regularly, or maybe ever coming to the platform in the first place. Specifically, there is some confusion among some users around the icons on the mobile apps.
And so Twitter is looking to more established social media norms for the solution. Just as Twitter moved to a heart icon from a star to get closer to the universal term of “like” (versus “favorite”) as a way of endorsing something you see on social media; now it’s seeing if “sharing” gets more people to be more social with Twitter content.
It’s the same reason Twitter would change the reply arrow to a speech bubble: Twitter is looking for more understandable iconography, and having too many arrows was, again, confusing to anyone less familiar with Twitter beyond very regular, existing users. Having a speech bubble icon may also prove to remind people to react more frequently, boosting engagement — a key metric that Twitter, as an ad-based service, needs to grow (especially since user growth has largely been flat).
It’s interesting, incidentally, to see how Direct Messaging has been downgraded a bit in this new test version. It’s still there as an option, but you now have to go into the sharing menu to access it rather than directly through the envelope icon. It makes us wonder just how much that (still pretty new) DM icon is being used; and also whether Twitter may have something else up its sleeve with DMs. (Perhaps the long-fabled, standalone Direct Messaging app?)
Direct messaging is definitely an area that Twitter is focusing on, although it’s hard to guess what the current thinking might be for where it will ultimately go. Or even if there is a cohesive, greater strategy at play, considering reports that it apparently killed off another standalone messaging project in India.
Unsurprisingly, among some of the power users seeing the new version, at least some don’t really understand why Twitter is tweaking.
Indeed, if this gets rolled out to everyone as a permanent change, it is unlikely to be popular among long-time users and Twitter purists. But remember that the move from stars to hearts was vehemently opposed and it is now an established part of Twitter, so never say never.
In any case, this is a test, and we’ve heard from an insider that there are “a bunch” of tests that are being tried out at the moment, so it’s anyone’s guess what might stick. If you’ve seen something new pop up in your own Twitter experience, get in touch and tell us about it.
As part of my evolving IndieWeb experience of owning all of my own internet-based social data, last year I wanted a “quick and dirty” method for owning and displaying all of my Twitter activity before embarking on a more comprehensive method of owning all of my past tweets in a much more comprehensive way. I expected even a quick method to be far harder than the ten minute operation it turned out to be.
Back in early October, I had also replied to a great post by Jay Rosen when he redesigned his own blog PressThink. I saw a brief response from him on Twitter at the time, but didn’t get a notification from him about his slightly longer reply, which I just saw over the weekend:
So, for his benefit as well as others who are interested in the ability to do something like this quickly and easily, I thought I’d write up a short outline of what I’d originally done so that without spending all the time I did, others can do the same or something similar depending on their needs.
Near the bottom of the page you should see a “Your Twitter archive” section
See the Request your archive button? Click it.
After a (hopefully) short wait, a link to your archive should show up in your email associated with the account. Download it.
Congratulations, you now own all of your tweets to date!
You can open the index.html file in the downloaded folder to view all of your tweets locally on your own computer with your browser.
Display your Twitter archive
The best part is now that you’ve got all your tweets downloaded, you can almost immediately serve them from your own server without any real modification.
Simply create an (accessible–use the same permissions as other equivalent files) folder named twitter on your server and upload all the files from your download into it. You’re done. It’s really that simple!
In my case I created a subfolder within my WordPress installation, named it “twitter”, and uploaded the files. Once this is done, you should be able to go to the URL http://example.com/twitter and view them.
Alternately one could set up a subdomain (eg. http://twitter.example.com) and serve them from there as well. You can change the URL by changing the name of the folder. As an alternate example, Kevin Marks uses the following: http://www.kevinmarks.com/tweets/.
When you’re done, don’t forget to set up a link from your website (perhaps in the main menu?) so that others can benefit from your public archive. Mine is tucked in under the “Blog” heading in my main menu.
Unfortunately, while you’ve now got a great little archive with some reasonable UI and even some very powerful search capabilities, most of the links on the archive direct back to the originals on Twitter and don’t provide direct permalinks within the archive. It’s also a static archive, so you’ve periodically got to re-download and upload to keep your archive current. I currently only update mine on a quarterly basis, at least until I build a more comprehensive set up.
Current Set Up
At the moment, I’m directly owning all of my Twitter activity on my social stream site, which is powered by Known, using the POSSE philosophy (Post on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere). There I compose and publish all of my Tweets and re-Tweets (and even some likes) directly and then I syndicate them to Twitter in real-time. I’ve also built and documented a workflow for more quickly tweeting using my cell phone in combination with either the Twitter mobile app or their mobile site. (Longer posts here on BoffoSocko are also automatically syndicated (originally with JetPack and currently with Social Network Auto-Poster, which provides a lot more customization) to Twitter, so I also own all of that content directly too.)
You’ll notice that on both sites, when content has been syndicated, there’s a section at the bottom of the original posts that indicates to which services the content was syndicated along with permalinks to those posts. I’m using David Shanske’s excellent Syndication Links plugin to do this.
Ultimately, I’d like to polish the workflow a bit and post all of my shorter Twitter-like status updates from BoffoSocko.com, but I still have some work to do to better differentiate content so that my shorter form content doesn’t muddy up or distract from the people who prefer to follow my longer-form content. Based on his comment, I also suspect that this is the same semantic issue/problem that Jay Rosen has. I’d also like to provide separate feeds/subscription options so that people can more easily consume as much or as little content from my site as they’d like.
For those who are interested in more comprehensive solutions for owning and displaying their Tweets, I’ve looked into a few WordPress-based possibilities and like the following two which could also be potentially modified for custom display:
Ozh’ Tweet Archiver (Separately available on GitHub with scripts [.csv, JSON] for importing more than 3200 Tweets limit imposed by Twitter API; it also has a custom “Twitter” theme available; for additional support and instructions there are additional blogposts available. 
Both of these not only allow you to own and display your tweets, but they also automatically import new Tweets using the current API. Keep in mind that they use the PESOS philosophy (Post Elsewhere, Syndicate to your Own Site) which is less robust than POSSE, mentioned above.
I’ll note that a tremendous number of WordPress-based plugins within the plugin repository that are Twitter related predate some of the major changes in Twitter’s API in the last year or two and thus no longer work and are no longer supported, so keep this in mind if you attempt to explore other solutions.
Those with more coding ability or wokring on other CMS platforms may appreciate a larger collection of thought and notes on the Twitter wiki page created by the IndieWeb Community. 
Do you own your own Tweets (either before or after-the-fact)? How did you do it? Feel free to tell others about your methods in the comments, or better yet, write them on your own site and send this post a webmention (see details below).
The IndieWeb movement is coding, collecting, and disseminating UI, UX, methods, and opensource code to help all netizens to better control their online identities, communicate, and connect themselves to others at IndieWeb.org. We warmly invite you to join us.
Twitter’s ceaseless search for someone to tell the social network where to go and how to get there has come to a momentary pause. The company announced today, on Twitter of course, that it has hired startup founder Keith Coleman as vice president of product.
Coleman, according to his Twitter bio, is the CEO of Yes Inc., a relatively unknown Bay Area startup responsible for two social apps called Frenzy and WZD. Frenzy offers a way to make quick plans with friends, while WZD is a blend Facebook and Snapchat that lets you share what you’re doing with friends by posting photos and videos layered with emoji and text. Because Yes is joining Twitter alongside Coleman, both apps are being shut down, according to a note posted to Yes’ website. Prior to Yes, Coleman was a product lead at Google overseeing services like Gmail and its chat companion.