Evan Jacobs: Making Twitter More Useful

Alex Stone, September 7th, 2010

TwitterEvan Jacobs is one of the developers doing some really interesting things with the Twitter API. Instead of using Twitter as a means of broadcasting information, Jacobs’ apps are actually gathering information from Twitter to turn it into something more useful.

“Clearly some tweets are more informative, entertaining, insightful, amusing or provocative than others. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discover these more valuable tweets as the usage of Twitter continues to grow.” — Evan Jacobs (via ReadWriteHack.com, Jacobs’ blog)

As a wine tasting enthusiast, Jacobs set out to build a tool for other wine enthusiasts to be able to share what they were drinking. Instead of building a tool where wine tasters had to create a special account and manage their posts through a CMS, Jacobs opted to make use of a platform people were already using to share things like this: Twitter. IDrankThis scans twitter for the #idrankthis hashtag, using what it finds to generate a wine microblog.

Evan Jacobs has also developed an interesting Twitter-based learning tool, YouCanLearn. Like IDrankThis, YouCanLearn scans the Twitter stream for the phrase “I want to learn”. From there, YouCanLearn sends you a tweet reply with a link to a relative TeachStreet page, containing information on local classes on whatever it is you want to learn. This is absolutely one of the best Twitter mashup concepts I’ve seen in. Instead of scanning for words and spamming you with offers and sales, YouCanLearn aims to take your desire to learn something and goes out to get information to help you achieve your goal, possibly bettering yourself. It’s definitely a welcome change from free iPad offers and other spam replies we’re used to seeing.

Jacobs is clearly out to build tools to get more out of Twitter then a medium to share things. It’s difficult to think of Twitter as a platform for input rather than just output. It will be interesting to see if other app developers will follow Jacobs’ lead and begin using Twitter as a way to grow communities like IDrankThis.

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3 Responses to “Evan Jacobs: Making Twitter More Useful”

September 7th, 2010
at 9:12 am
Comment by: Tim

I’m surprised that the youcanlearn service hasn’t been flagged as spam by Twitter. Their spam & abuse policy [1] states: “If you send large numbers of unsolicited @replies in an attempt to spam a service or link;” and I’ve heard many stories of services/apps being shutdown because of this — despite their usefulness.

I’m glad things work out well for Evan though. The “idrankthis” service is a clever idea.

[1] http://support.twitter.com/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules

September 7th, 2010
at 2:43 pm
Comment by: Evan Jacobs: Using the twitter API in creative ways

[...] a good one from programmableweb. Evan Jacobs has been busy with the twitter API doing some very creative things! From searching and [...]

September 7th, 2010
at 3:38 pm
Comment by: Evan Jacobs

Thanks for the comment, Tim. YouCanLearn is an experiment to see if it is possible to respond to latent demand expressed on Twitter. Thankfully I haven’t been blocked by Twitter yet but I hope that their algorithm takes into account the overwhelming positive @replies I’ve received from people who are initially sent a link from YouCanLearn.

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