Reinventing the wheel: Twitter backchannel

I was chatting a bit with Bart about Barcamp, and I asked the inevitable question: “Should we do something with Twitter?” To which Bart’s answer was: “Maybe, but what?”. Let’s see:

  • create a “BarcampBrussels” Twitter account, which would serve 2 purposes: 1) be a source of Barcamp organisational info (“Speaker XYZ has to leave early, wants to do his speech before noon, anyone wanna swap?“) and 2) be the ‘glue’ between all Twitterers that are interested in Barcamp: the creation of a BarcampTwitterFriends group, of those who follow that channel.
  • But the Barcamp Twitter account also gets the updates of all its friends, so wouldn’t that be good info too? Well, you do get *all* updates, so not only the “Barcamp speech about XYZ rocks” but also the “feeding my cat” messages. What if you could create a filter on the aggregated messages? Hey: Yahoo! Pipes can do that! We take the RSS feed with all the Barcamp Twitter friends ([code].rss), pipe it through Yahoo and only use the updates with the word “Barcamp”!

    There are some issues with that: people have to remember to prefix each Barcamp-related comment with “Barcamp” (they choose a differente namespace, as it were). That’s cumbersome and ugly. Also, the Twitter RSS only lists the 20 last updates, so the filter might easily remove all updates and leave an empty screen. Even worse, it seems the RSS feed is only updated every X minutes (easily 30, from my experience). So it seems we should have to use the Twitter API to create a live-updating feed. Imagine we do that:

    Then we refresh it every X seconds, project it on a screen and tada!! … ladies and gentlemen: the backchannel! We’re not the first to think of this, of course.

What’s your take: should we do anything with Twitter? Set up a group chat in MSN Messenger or Skype? Or use an classic IRC backchannel? (Who still has an IRC client on his laptop these days?)

10 thoughts on “Reinventing the wheel: Twitter backchannel”

  1. If it’s a backchannel, then we’re talking about using it that same day right?
    Who of the people present would be feeding his/her cat?

    Most people in the friends list will be there, so their tweets will be Barcamp-related… if not, you can just “leave non-present-friend”.

    On displaying the tweets real-time: connect any Googletalk (or Jabber compliant) IM account to your Twitter account and have that maximized on screen…

  2. you could also use and set up a backchannel within 2 seconds, with having it projected, but also accessible on the users laptops as well as from anywhere. well it lacks the sms thing of course.

  3. Let’s be wild !

    I agree with Pascal all friends of BarcampBrussels will be in the room.
    You can also make this twitter sharing updates only with friendd, no ?

  4. Maybe I’m old school but there is nothing better than an IRC channel on a conference or better un-conference like barcamp.

  5. sounds interesting, but why not create more mash-up IMs, such as AIM/Yahoo/Gtalk/Skype/MSN. that will be cool for twitter!

  6. re:publica in berlin had an innovative sms backchannel (amongst others), maybe you’d like to take ask them for their solution.

  7. I follow Jesse and wim. If someone can startup a twitter account, then it is also very easy to have conversations on an IRC channel. It’s not because it is old, it’s bad.

    IRC is still the best thing for a backchannel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.