Idea: preview service for URL shorteners

I was using my iPhone to read my Twitter feed (Twitterrific) and Facebook and when comparing the two, I liked one thing about Facebook that Twitter/Twitterific does not have: when some one posts a URL, you get a preview icon and a short text. This way you can have a rough idea of what the link is about, and whether or not you’re interested to click it. In Twitter it is even worse, since the service uses URL shorteners (bitly, …) so that you don’t even have the original URL to guess what the link is about, like e.g. youtube.com/watch?… => it’s a video!

So imagine that there is a service that accepts a URL as input and comes back with

  • a destination URL (the actual URL you end up on)
  • a summary text (short text) about this page
  • a preview (small image) of this page

So for a YouTube video, it comes back with a video screenshot and the video comments, for a blog post that includes a video/image, it comes back with a thumbnail for that and the start of the blog post text.

Most importantly, for shortened URLs, it comes back with a preview of the ‘real’, original URL.

A Twitter client like Twitterific, Tweetie, Tweetdeck, … could use this service every time it encounters a (shortened) URL in a tweet, and add the thumbnail next to it, and maybe the summary text as a mouse-over window.

Coming up with the metadata

Creating a summary text: either based on the web page itself, the META description, if it’s a blog, the first X words of the RSS item in its feed that points to this page.

Creating a preview thumbnail: for YouTube, DailyMotion, Vimeo: a video screenshot, for Flickr, Picasaweb: an image thumbnail, for Wikipedia: an image that is used in the article or just the Wikipedia favicon, for a corporate site: the web site thumbnail as created by e.g. thumbalizr.

Extend it with even more metadata

This might be an interesting service to run for Google: they could add some indicator of importance or trustworthiness (Pagerank, incoming links), or warn for shady URLs.

Seth’s bandwidth vs synchronicity graph: it’s a start

Seth Godin came up with a visualisation of ‘means of communication’: bandwidth vs sync(chronicity). He took a number of ‘old’ (postal mail, radio) and ‘new’ (blogs, Youtube and -of course- Twitter) technologies and ranked them on a 2D graph according to ‘quality’ (density or bandwidth) and ‘sync’ (speed of reaction).

Although it is an interesting way of visualizing things, and I consider Seth a very bright and creative guy, I am bothered by the fact that the graph is neither clear, correct nor complete.

Continue reading Seth’s bandwidth vs synchronicity graph: it’s a start

Twitter spammers: Clickbank/Keynetics affiliates

I’ve been experimenting with Twitter a couple of times, and one of the results, the FM Brussel Live playlist twitter bot, seems to be rather popular. I get a couple of subscriptions per day. But recently they’re almost all of the form [name of girl][number of 2 – 4 digits]. This is what they look like:

Twitter followers: suspicious lot

Continue reading Twitter spammers: Clickbank/Keynetics affiliates

FM Brussel playlist live on Twitter

Via Pietel I heard of a Twitter account that publishes the playlist of StuBru in real-time. Interesting, but I listen to FM Brussel. How hard would it be to make the same thing for FM Brussel? Not that hard, it appears. After some twiddling with curl, twitter API and other PHP, here is the Twitter account for the playlist of FM Brussel.

http://twitter.com/fmbrussel