‘Nothing is “Built On Twitter”‘

Dustin Curtis nails it when he writes about Twitter:

And that leads to me to the final thing I want to talk about, which is also the most important: Twitter has fucked up its platform. Twitter has turned into a place where famous people and news organizations broadcast text. That’s it. Nothing great is Built On Twitter, even though it should be the most powerful realtime communications platform on Earth. There are simply no developer integration features for building stuff on top of Twitter as a platform, and that is absurd and disappointing. The fact that automatic tweets from apps are considered rude is one of the biggest failings of Twitter’s product team–Twitter should be the place for apps to broadcast realtime information about someone. And yet the culture around the Twitter community has effectively banned such behavior because the product doesn’t have features to filter/organize such notifications.

Twitter started off as a content creator’s dream. They had a freely available API and a massive, growing data-set open to anyone with some basic programming skills. That avenue was closed a few years after launch when they bit the hand that fed them and blocked basic API access to successful apps.

While I agree with Mr. Curtis’ overall opinion of the Twitter platform, I’m not convinced Twitter is “the right person for the job.” The service that Twitter provides should be given to the people who contribute to it, like Wikipedia does. The content and the platform should be completely open. Giving this responsibility to one for-profit company is simply a ticking time bomb.

It’s for this reason that I recommend as many interested people as possible look into running or contributing to the GNU Social platform. It’s a federated Twitter-alike service that’s completely open-source. People on one network can follow and reply to people who are on another. Even better is that there’s no 140-character limit!

The Power of Twitter (or, how it never hurts to ask)

Transport Tycoon

Open TTD Title ScreenTransport Tycoon Deluxe had a profound impact on my life when I was in high school. A friend an I found it in a nested-away folder on one of those pirate-rich, home-burned CDs that contained ripped games and were passed around between classes. At the start, we had no idea what a great game Transport Tycoon was but the graphics were really impressive and the game ran swell on our hardware (a 486SX at 33MHz and a Cyrix MediaGX at 180MHz). Not only were the graphics great, but the music was really catchy, as well. All of us (friends who later became enamoured themselves with the game) found ourselves humming it for months and years after.

I play the music now and again, even years later. It’s classic 16-bit MIDI is music to my ears. Still, I have always wondered what a live band adaptation would sound like.

Enter Twitter

Conversation on Twitter with John BroomhallSome people wonder what the point of Twitter is. I, myself, was one of those people until I realized about two months after joining that A) your experience is directly related to the quality of the people you follow, and B) it gives you direct access to famous people you would have no other way of contacting.

Hey wait! Why not contact John Broomhall about him doing a live band version of the Transport Tycoon!

Gamasutra

Game developers and artists in the game development industry frequently guest post on Gamasutra, a blog dedicated to the art of game development. Guess what? John Broomhall wrote a guest post centred about his 20+ year experience in the game soundtrack field and included a little nugget which interested yours truly: a live band adaptation of Transport Tycoon’s soundtrack!

I’d just like to thank Mr. Broomhall for doing this and giving me such enjoyable music to listen to all these years. Also to Twitter for making it possible for us to directly speak to people who have made direct impacts on our lives!

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 2.0

Note: This is a continuation of part 1 of How to Network in a Web 2.0 World. Please read the first blog post on the subject before proceeding with this one.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve got profiles at the 3 most popular social networking websites, it’s time to put them to good use. To do that, we’re going to leverage the equalizing power of the Internet to gain access to high-profile people in the markets you’re selling your services to or working in. You will be amazed how accessible CEOs and other top-tier people are on services like Twitter and Facebook.

Your Brand

Branding is an entire industry by itself and far out of the scope of this blog post. However, we can tackle a small part of it to get you on your way. The easiest way to help brand yourself is to have a consistent image that you’re delivering to people who see you. This way, they will remember you and associate you with that image. Think Coca-cola and you likely think of a red sign with white text. Or Nintendo brings up imagery of Mario.

Be sure that your profile picture is the same across all of the social networking sites you’re a part of. This way, when people see a thumbnail of your profile pic, they will remember who you are and associate you with it.

Another trick is to always use the same nickname or handle on every service. For example, my handle is Rocky1138. If you search for Rocky1138 on Google or Yahoo or Bing you will see a lot of the websites I write on or tweets from Twitter.

Facebook Vanity URLs

When adjusting your profile on Facebook you are presented with the option of creating a “vanity URL,” which is a word you associate in the Facebook website address with your Facebook profile. This is an easy way to make your Facebook profile memorable to people. For example, my Facebook profile is located at https://www.facebook.com/webprogrammer. Whenever anyone goes to that link, it will take them to my Facebook profile. Pick a good Vanity URL such as your name or something easy to remember that you wouldn’t mind putting on your business cards.

Twitter

Twitter will connect you with very important people around the world and give you access to those who can hire you or contract your services in the future. An easy way to get hold of the best people in your industry is to use a website like WeFollow.

WeFollow will show you the top Twitter accounts in the world for a search term you type in. If you type in “php” you will get 1,602 people you can follow, including the #1 twitterer which is coincidentally the person that invented PHP. After using Twitter for a few weeks to build up a tweet history, spend a day and a half to follow the entire list of people in your search. If even half of them follow you in return, that’s still potentially hundreds of like-minded people that will be listening and watching your tweets.

I have gotten plenty of work from people who’ve been following me on Twitter and got in touch with me because of something I tweeted about. This is a great way to get work.

I hope this has helped moves you forward in networking in a web 2.0 world. There’s still plenty more we can do, so keep an eye out for part 3 on the horizon.

Coffee and Code in Guelph

If you’re a developer looking for something to do on Tuesday nights, look no further: Coffee and Code has come to Guelph. We meet between 7:30pm and 9:30pm to network, discuss relevant programming topics, and get some work done. It’s a great opportunity to meet some like-minded individuals and work in a setting other than your usual lair. Bring your laptop and whatever else you’ll need to do your thing.

Cory Fowler began the Coffee and Code event in Guelph a few weeks ago and has been diligently building up some momentum with it. I think it’s been going for 5 weeks now. I started going on the third week.

Next meeting place: The Albion on Gordon St. Hopefully we’ll see you there!

DemoCampGuelph9 – May 13, 2009 – Be there!

Coming up fast is the next DemoCamp in Guelph. It’s scheduled for May 13th and this time it will be at the eBar on Quebec St. Attending the DemoCamp is completely free and definitely recommended if you’re into programming, new technology, servers, hardware, software, games, or anything else with computers. Usually there are drinks and food included, so come and have fun!

I’ve blogged about previous DemoCamps before, namely the 6th and 7th events here in Guelph. At the 6th event, I presented Jack of All Links.

For more details on the upcoming DemoCampGuelph9 event, check out the DemoCampGuelph homepage.

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 1

TwitterFox - Firefox Twitter Plugin

TwitterFox – Firefox Twitter Plugin

As a web developer my job is more than just programming code. I’m required to cut up graphics, keep up-to-date with web standards (CSS, XHTML, et al.), and build a reputation for myself in a way that many other workers in many other jobs simply aren’t required to do.

There has always been a need for every worker in every industry to maintain a good level of professionalism and efficiency in order to gain a good referral when looking for future employment, but with web developers this is amplified.

Why?

Everything about the web is social; we chat online, send E-Mails, play online games, receive world news instantly, and have public profiles on any number of social networking services – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Orkut, and more.  There is competiton everywhere. Everyone is fighting each other for attention and recognition.

Who’s out there?

Computerworld suggests that 1 in 5 employers looks at prospective employees on social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, and others) to determine if that person would be a good fit for their company. With numbers like that, you cannot afford to be reckless with regards to your online persona.

What can you do?

This first part of this article is designed to get you up to speed on a few techniques and sites that will help you build an online persona that future employers, when searching for you, will find.

I got my first programming gig because my employer found me on Google. The same could happen to you. Let’s make sure what they see shows you in the most positive light possible.

The Basics

The most important things you can do when creating an online profile is ensuring that your data is always accurate, timely, and professional. Always imagine that your boss can see everything you put online — because he/she can! Never let data grow stale. Always be adding, updating, and building.

To start, there are three websites you will need to create an account on. Those three are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We’ll go through each briefly, but I always recommend that some time is spent with each one to get used to the features it offers.

Facebook

Website: https://www.facebook.com/

Who hasn’t heard of Facebook? Unless you’ve been living under a technological rock for the past few years, you’ve at least heard of this service. Facebook is a website where over 90 million people have created profiles that allow them to share photos and contact details, network, and meet friends.  Put simply: If you’re not on Facebook, who are you?

LinkedIn

Website: https://www.linkedin.com/

LinkedIn is Facebook’s older, more experienced cousin. This site’s specific purpose is to build an online resume and accomplishments list that other people in your industry can use to search and find you. While Facebook is geared to a more personal audience, LinkedIn is strictly for professionals. Over 35 million people have built online profiles already and there are more joining each day. Chances are someone you know or work with is on this site.

As you build your profile, consider it an online resume.  This will help to give you an idea of what it should look like to someone reading it.

A neat feature that LinkedIn has is the ability to search your E-Mail contacts for people on LinkedIn that you might know. This saves you the hassle of trying to build an initial network. From there, you can be introduced to people that they know and so on, building your network even larger.

Twitter

Website: https://www.twitter.com/

Ah, Twitter. You’ll either love it or hate it. I personally dislike this service, but I find myself using it every day. It is a uniquely simple but completely addicting service. The idea is called ‘micro-blogging‘, meaning that you send brief (140 letters or less) updates of what you’re doing or thinking and people can respond.  The photo at the top-right of this article shows a typical Twitter experience.

As you continue to update the world to your thoughts and work, people will begin to ‘follow’ you and they will get your tweets (the term for each update you put out). In turn, you can ‘follow’ their tweets.

The biggest draw of Twitter is that you can find and communicate with very high-profile people you may never normally have access to. Some top CEOs and other big-wigs are on here. If you communicate often enough and start to gather a following, you can find yourself in a conversation with people you never thought possible!

This ends part one of “How to Network in a Web 2.0 World.” Continue onto Part 2.0.

New to Elgg? Need help? Come chat on IRC.

Part of the fun of working on open-source projects is the fact you get to connect with other developers all over the world in a collaborative fashion. Using Internet Relay Chat (IRC), you can connect to other Elgg developers for help or discussion.

If you’re new to IRC, check out the wikipedia article on the subject and download a good IRC client (for Windows) (for Linux KDE).

To connect to the Elgg channel, connect to irc.freenode.org. Then, join channel #elgg.

See you there!

DemoCampGuelph6 was a lot of fun!

I got back from the 6th Guelph DemoCamp around 9:00pm last night. Free beer, free food, a group of 50 or more programmers, and one block away from my apartment. Guelph rules :)

If you live in the Guelph area and you’re interested in going to the next one, there will be another DemoCamp on the 17th of September 2008. You should be there. Presenting stuff is easy: You get 5 minutes to set up, 5 minutes to talk, and 5 minutes to answer questions from the crowd. If you just want to come listen and mingle that’s cool, too.

I presented Jack of All Links to the crowd and it went really well. There were a couple of guys from WeGoWeGo, which is a startup that’s gearing up in Toronto as well as a few other people presenting technology or software they wrote. I really enjoyed it.

I was really surprised at the size of the crowd! I figured there might be at maximum 10 people (I mean, how many programmers *are* there around here anyway) but there were over 50. Exciting!

Get your blog out there! 3 Sites To Help You Increase Traffic To Your Blog

If you’ve just started your own blog or even if you’ve had one for a while but are always on the lookout to incrase your readers then take a few minutes to read this post. Included below are 3 sites that will help build readership  by making your blog more visible and more accessible by people reading (and other bloggers quoting) on the internet.

 

#1. Technorati

Technorati is one of the original and definietly one of the most respected blog catalogs available on the web. By adding your blog to their listings, Technorati will routinely “ping” your blog to look for new posts. Then, it’ll take those posts and make them available to all of its readers giving full credit to you and your blog.  Already there are over 112 million blogs in Technorati’s index!

Technorati also offers a few neat features including the ability for people to become “fans” of your blog as well as a ranking system called “Authority.” The Authority of your blog is determined by how many individual blogs (not just many posts on the same blog) link to yours. The idea is that the most popular blogs will be the ones that most people link to or quote from. Technorati also offers Top 100 blog lists and other ways to see how well you stack up to other bloggers.

 

#2. Blog Catalog

Blog Catalog is exactly what it says: An online directory of blogs. While that doesn’t sound terribly exciting off the top this site is definitely worth a look. They are quite large, with over 18 billion messages in their message forum and countless blogs listed and updated daily, there is a ton of stuff happening at Blog Catalog.

An interesting feature available on Blog Catalog is the widget you are able to place on your own blog that links your Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and YouTube (among others) accounts and place the updates you do on those sites directly on your blog. For an example of this, take a look to the right side of this blog where you’ll see a red square titled “Latest Updates.”

There are other widgets available too, including one that shows you other Blog Catalog users who have recently read your blog. This service really helps to promote the social aspect of blogging.

 

#3. Zimbio

Zimbio is a relative newcomer to the blog indexing lineup. An interesting feature that sets Zimbio apart from the other services are “Wikizenes”, which are a sort of dynamic magazine that include articles from similar blogs. There are thousands of Wikizenes available to read on the site and you are more than welcome to create your own for everyone else to read as well.

As an example, someone has created a Wikizene on Gordon Ramsay.

 

And Finally…

Last but not least, don’t forget to submit your blog (and your blog posts) to my social search engine and social bookmarking service: Jack of All Links. (I shut Jack of All Links down in 2011.)

I hope this helps you in your quest to promote your blog. I know that it’s helped me immensely with this blog as now all 3 of these services are pinging my blog daily. I’d appreciate any feedback you have, including additional services that are similar to these. If I receive enough I may post a follow-up. Thanks!

Add Jack of All Links to Social Bookmarking Reloaded

Please note that this post is out-of-date and no longer applies. I shut Jack of All Links down in 2011.

If you use the WordPress plugin Social Bookmarking Reloaded then you can benefit from the addition of the Jack of All Links social search engine icon on your pages. For the uninitiated, check out the previous article I wrote about the service. Otherwise, follow these instructions to add Jack of All Links support to Social Bookmarking Reloaded:

 

1. Update your sites.xml file.

Add these lines to the bottom of your “sites.xml” file just before the </social_sites> tag. The file “sites.xml” is located in the “./wp-content/plugins/social-bookmarking-reloaded” directory.

<site>
 <name>Jack of All Links</name>
 <url>http://www.jackofalllinks.com/action/submit?url={link}</url>
 <img>jackofalllinks_mini.png</img>
 <key>jackofalllinks</key>
</site>

 

2. Grab the Jack of All Links mini icon.

Download this image to your Social Bookmarking Reloaded directory (“./wp-content/plugins/social-bookmarking-reloaded”).

 

 

3. Enjoy!

After you do these two simple steps, logging into your blog’s administration panel will give you the ability to select Jack of All Links as one of the icons to show in your “Bookmark to:” bottom bar on each of your posts. For an example, look at the “Bookmark to:” bar on this post!