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The intertubes are abuzz with the US Department of Justice's subpoena of a bunch of Twitter account details (signup stuff and DMs for a range of folks including non-Americans).  It's time for Twitter to stop being a service and grow up into a protocol.

Twitter's run in the US, and so is subject to US legal and political shenanigans.  They're generally good folks (which is how come the story broke: they told their users) but they are still subject to US interference.  If they were elsewhere, all sorts of international jurisdiction issues would apply, and we would have a situation where intensely privacy-friendly jurisdictions (traditionally Sweden, say) would be more attractive as Twitter hosts.  Plus, with more than one corporate player, our precious ability to tell each other about our cats and workouts and Justin Bieber are much more robust too.  If AOL buys Twitter, we can see the fail coming and move to EuroTweet or TweetRu or wherever. 

This incident serves as a high-profile poke to the deep geeks: Get your RFC hats on, and build the cross-server interaction rules that allow tweeting (that'd be short-form stateless real-time text messaging with user identifier and other metadata) between orgs.  The world will be a better place for it.
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Social media compares well to a pub: it's vaguely compartmentalised and mostly public, a hubbub of conversation that ebbs and flows.  Sometimes, one of the barflies says something so dumb that the jukebox skips, the bar goes silent, and then there's a roar before he's thrown out into the street. 

That's what just happened to Carter Ruck, the scumbag-protecting lawyers who put a gagging order on the Guardian preventing them from reporting a parliamentary question, who was asking it, what it was about, when it would be asked, and so on.  But the scandalous gagging was reported, got onto Twitter, and that's when the roar started. 

So Carter Ruck managed to bring the full glare of the Streissand Effect down on their clients like an arc-lamp.  And they are skeezy clients, too: toxic dumpers Trafigura.  We know that, because the paperwork was lurking up on Wikileaks and St Stephen of Fry, tapping his jillion followers for all they're worth, tweeted it out.

The legals have caved in and dropped it.  The angry tweeting mob are turning on the Justice Minister to use this to ensure that all proceedings are protected from this sort of rubbish. 

Gag the fourth estate and the fifth just get louder. 

This is the good side of the death of privacy: the death of the abuse of smoke-filled rooms and private chambers.  Panopticon, baby.  We're watching.
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Just stumbled across Twitter 'bot IWishIWas - it seems to be a scraper for public tweets with "I wish I was" in the text, but there may be a human in there to filter out naughty or tedious tweets.  It's got a simple charm, though it's also tinged with the same sort of melancholy that you found on postsecret back in the day.

Twitter

Jan. 16th, 2009 07:20 pm
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I do like my Twitter.  Last night with the Hudson crash was another example of its awesomeness, with the "filtered burbling of crowds" effect on their search page: http://search.twitter.com -- the "bird strike" angle came out on Twitter before the UK news got it, and jkrums' awesome photo broke immediately he snapped it on his phone and sent it to Twitpic: He was on one of the first boats to arrive, and the shot has a lot more human drama and physical banality than the distant, later media pictures: citizen journalism at its sharpest. 

Twitter's search is underrated.  The main page has a list of "trending" terms, stuff that's being posted a lot - it's traditional to tag public stuff with a #: #hudson, or #mumbai, recently, so folks can see it.  What you get is a rolling glom of chatter - it's very vicarious, for sure, but it's also immediate and the raggedy randomness means it's fresh too: I just learned that the Photosynth team (remember them from kite photography?) are going to make a mega-sized photosynth of the US inauguration!).  Everyone wants to be there, now in 3D :)

It's not vicarious in the way of being in the event, but like being in the front row of the crowd watching it unfold.  The US elections were a lot of fun.  Hurricane Ike was grim, with one Twitterer confessing in the dark into his cellphone how Tweeting was the only thing keeping him together as the windows all blew out, then signing off to save battery, before appearing again the next morning to much relief.

And it's not just big global things, of course, you can search for a friend and their chatter with their friends - it's public unless it's direct - comes up.  Wittering and gossip, for sure, but we're social creatures, don't knock wittering and gossip. 

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Stephen Fry's nipple has just tweeted.
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After a night's sleep I'm mellow now about missing the race.  I race to train, not train to race, so it wasn't the world-breaker it could be.  I am disappointed, deeply so, but hey, life is full of disappointments, get used to it.  This training wasn't as much fun as the sprint and olympic distance training, and I'll focus on that next year.

The Twitter Confessional was interesting: since I was on my own, it was nice to be able to tweet.  A good vent, if nothing else:
  • On the road, singing along to Rocky. Eye of the badger!
  • If I ignore this lurgy, will it go away? Dot berry habby, dabbit! :-(
  • Driven the course. Met Paul and some Tri Talk bods. Bike racked and ready. Time for pasta!
  • Hot and cold flushes all night. Fever dreams. Not in a happy place. HTFU? Snarf.
  • Lurgy has transitioned to cough and hot-cold shakes. Can't swim like this. :-(
  • There goes the bus. Gah! Furious, gutted, nothing to kick. Gah!
For the record, I don't recommend pushing a new and challenging race distance on your own.  A support network is a good thing.  Tweeting is not the same - your plastic pal who's fun to be with?  Ish.

With nothing else to do, I took the time to take some photos.  Got some really good ones - here's the Flickr set.  I have to say that this year's look - compression knee-socks - works better on women than it does on men, especially when combined with pigtails to work around that aero helmet.  It's a kinda techno-high-performance-St. Trinian's thing.  :)
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The Mars Rovers have a Twitter stream too, now: marsrovers.  Oppy has left the crater!  W00t!

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