Three real systems I'm building on top of Twitter.

A year or two ago, I couldn’t stand Twitter. I had an account, but thought it was stupid and I thought it was a complete waste of time.

About a year ago, I attended a little brain-storming session hosted by Charlie and afterwards I suddenly had three or four Twitter followers. With new followers in hand, I suddenly felt the pressure to at least use Twitter a little bit (and hopefully produce something of value or entertainment for my tiny group of followers).

Fast forward to today and I’ve now got about 142 followers (still a small number of followers compared to most people, but most are people I actually know and/or interact with)…but more interesting to me is that I have done a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn and now find a ton of personal value in Twitter.

I use it to follow the tidbits of people I find interesting, to get inside tips on things going on in industries I’m interested in (by following the interesting people in those industries), and I especially use it as a quick messaging system to communicate with people around the NYC area (to schedule meetings, get directions, answer quick questions, and lots of other things tiny conversations are filled with).

And more recently, I’m really starting to use Twitter as a simple command line tool…and it’s really this concept, and the fact that Twitter has a very open and available API, that I’m building a handful of systems on top of.

The first, which I’m probably most excited about, is the idea of playing fantasy sports via Twitter. We’re calling the game engine gawk.it, and the plan at the moment is to build out a number of fantasy games using this basic engine. The ultimate goal of this project is of course to tie the ‘real time’ factor of Twitter (along with the simplicity of Twitter) with the adctive nature of fantasy sports. It’s still very early in this concept, but I see a lot of potential for this basic idea and can’t wait to see what develops out of it.

The next step for gawk.it is to release our first official game (hopefully by this Sat.)…it’s going to include some actual prizes as well as a tie into a charity (donor’s choose)…don’t worry, I’ll probably post more about this later in the week.

The second project is pu.ly which is really just an email system for interacting with Twitter. Once you set yourself up, you can send emails to twitter@pu.ly and the content of your email will be tweeted by your account. The system can also send you an email whenever you are mentioned in a tweet or get a direct message via twitter…and then you can simply hit respond to the email (instead of having to jump to another application).

The next step for pu.ly is to build out the ability to accomplish more tasks via email…I haven’t quite figured out what those tasks are going to be just yet, but some of the basic ideas are things like being able to email something like “search fantasy football” and get back an email with the top results/tweets from a Twitter search of the term “fantasy football”. Because of all the other things I’ve got going on right now, I probably won’t get around to really doing anything more on this until after the start of the NFL season (but luckily that’s only a few weeks away!).

The third project is tym.ly which is basically a new type of social calendar built on top of Twitter….in a lot of ways it’s like foursquare for the future (so
where you are going to be instead of where you are or were)…you just follow the tymly twitter account, and when you want to post a public event to your calendar you just @tymly…when you want to post a private event to your calendar you direct message the tymly account (and then of course we have our own concept of followers and following so different people can see different calendars and various levels of public and private messages based on what rights they’ve been granted – many of these features are not quite built out just yet though).

The real hope is to improve something like outlook calendar…make it more open and more social…so eventually you’ll be able to do just about everything you can with outlook calendar, but from the start you’ll also be able to do things like see one calendar holding all the events of the people you follow at once…and narrow that view down based on a keyword (ie. hashtag)…and of course do some interesting alerting things…oh and of course I’ve already baked disqus in (so you can comment on anyone’s plans at any time and have a real conversation around making those plans).

So anyway, as you can see…over the past couple of years I’ve turned around my thinking on Twitter…and I’m going beyond being a simple user, to a big time fan and believer. Along the way, hopefully I’m building some useful and interesting things…but I guess we’ll leave that decision up to you (and the other users out there).

** UPDATE: I only mentioned the three systems I’m currently working on top of Twitter…but I have done a few other quick hack projects on it in the past as well…if you’re really bored and want to see them too check out halfbite.com (actually a lot of people still seem to use this for some reason – it’s just a tool to analyze what sorts of things a given user tweets), timelylinks.com ( a tool to find what should be interesting links based on your twitter bio) , and jivegas.com (a tool that is supposed to tell you what people are saying/linking to/tweeting about your blog posts).

Each of those kind of work, but def. aren’t intended to be businesses and were more just about playing around with some basic ideas and twitter…I’ve left them live because they require no real effort on my part, but I have no real plans to improve or change them any time soon (unless someone makes a special request of course).

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

If you have comments, thoughts, or want to respond to something you see here I would encourage you to respond via a post on your own blog (and then let me know about the link via one of the routes mentioned above).