Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Twitter's Anywhere can change the game, the web and your life

Wow. Twitter made an announcement at SXSW (I'm not there, for the record) which, according to reports, got overshadowed by other events.

I don't want to go into that. I do want to make sure you don't miss the real story here. Something that is potentially beyond game-changing - it is life changing. And it is called @anywhere.

From Twitter's blog:

"When we designed Twitter, we took a different approach—we didn’t require a relationship model like that of a social network. Keeping things open meant you could browse our site to read tweets from friends, celebrities, companies, media outlets, fictional characters, and more. You could follow any account and be followed by any account. As a result, companies started interacting with customers, celebrities connected with fans, governments became more transparent, and people started discovering and sharing information in a new, participatory manner.

"We’ve developed a new set of frameworks for adding this Twitter experience anywhere on the web. Soon, sites... will be able to recreate these open, engaging interactions providing a new layer of value for visitors without sending them to Twitter.com. Our open technology platform is well known and Twitter APIs are already widely implemented but this is a different approach because we’ve created something incredibly simple. Rather than implementing APIs, site owners need only drop in a few lines of javascript. This new set of frameworks is called @anywhere."
It took hypertext to create the open, unsilo'd web of documents we see today.

We are waiting for something similar to do for the web of people what hypertext does for the web of documents. (image courtesy Erica Marshall)

And @anywhere sounds like it could be a judicious punt in the right direction.

Imagine if @anywhere could become a standard protocol for people's real-time meta data in the way hypertext has proved to be for documents?

That's potentially web changing - and therefore life changing. For all of us.

In its present iteration the @anywhere platform twitterises sites. Launch partners include eBay and The New York Times, Amazon and (watch out Google) Yahoo!

But surely the end game isn't about serving individual sites? Just as hypertext isn't about better internal navigation within a website. No, @anywhere is all about connecting people through the real-time expression of their meta data. So @anywhere is the building blocks of the twitterisation of the web - taking the real-time adhoc fuzzy-edged community-of-purpose forming that Twitter delivers beyond the silo of Twitter itself - and across the entire internet..

Imagine if all sites used it. And it all connected us from site to site. Beyond the silos.

Forget the 140character thing, that's just clever interaction design. It's the framework and standardising of a protocol emerging here which excites me.

Facebook Connect connects. But to me the way it connects people is in a hypertext, node-to-node way. The potential for @anywhere is to connect via interaction between nodes. And that's a much richer space with far greater opportunities to connect with people who share your real-time expression of need, a much greater opportunity to find each other when you need each other.

The value is in the interactions, not in the nodes. Twitter may just have identified that - and found a way to extract it.

And the great thing about value in interactions is that it is value in which we can all share. An even better way to find those who care about the same issue we do right now, come together and act to fix it.

Efficiency beyond the dreams of the broadcast world.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?