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Twidroid Review

December 13th, 2009 1 comment

twidroidI picked up the MyTouch G3 about a month ago on a whim.  I was fueled by my recent desire for a phone that allows me to access Twitter a little more effectively than Virgin Mobile’ ARC.

Twidroid is the a third-party application for Twitter.  It was developed by Ralph Zimmerman and Thomas Marban for use on the Android Operating System.  Twidroid is available for free on Android’s market, which is accessible through the phone and from a computer.  Mashable.com, “the world’s largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Media news,” (said themselves) rated Twidroid as one of the best free Twitter applications for the Android.  How could I say “no” to something so highly regarded?  And free?

Before I continue, let me say that my photos were taken with a digital camera.  Getting screenshot software to work was more complicated than I imagined and I just don’t have the knowledge or time to deal with the process.

Once opened, Twidroid presents itself in a rather straight forward manner.  Tweets are displayed on the majority of the screen while at the bottom are several icons:twidroid2*Photo courtesy of michael-lipson.com

This is the home screen.  To send a tweet, I just need to press on the speech bubble on the bottom bar, just right of the house.  At the top of the screen, a space will appear.  After tapping on that space, the G3 keyboard will appear at the bottom of the screen.  Now it’s just a matter of carefully entering whatever message I want with my clumsy fingers, but my problems with G3’s keyboard are for another post.

Pressing @ icon opens up my list of mentions, displayed in reverse chronological order.  The envelope icon shows my list of direct messages in a similar fashion.  The magnifying glass icon opens the searching tool with which I can search for other users and keyword.  The circular arrow on the far right refreshes whatever list I’m looking at, which is quite useful when I have the automatic refresh set for longer periods of time or when I’m engaged in a conversation that requires a certain degree of swiftness in replies.

To reply to other users’ tweets, I just press on the arrows to the right of their post and a menu will appear:

twittermenu

From here I am able to reply, look at their profile, favorite that user, retweet their post, send them a direct message, copy their tweet to my phone’s clipboard, share their tweet (email, Facebook, SMS), or report the user as spam.  The last two options aren’t visible in the picture, but the menu does scroll down.

The menu button on my G3 opens another menu on the bottom of the screen:

twitter submenu

From here I can choose to jump to the top of the tweet list, enter Twidroid settings, view my lists, view my profile, and exit Twidroid.  The “More” icon opens a sub menu containing access to my Twitter accounts, my favorite users, and an option to manage my lists, though List Management is an offer available to those who have Twidroid PRO (which users have to pay for).

Viewing my own profile on Twidroid is quite similar to viewing it on Twitter’s website: Twidroid displays personal information on the top, icon to the right, and tweets below whereas Twitter keeps the personal information confined to the far right.

twitter profile

The large similarities between Twitter  and Twidroid  allow more users to comfortably shift from one to the other without becoming confused by the interface differences.  In this particular case, the layout is simple enough to navigate without much prior knowledge of Twitter.com.  This can be done by simply exploring the application.  But that can be said of anything.  The best way to learn a new skill is by using it.  You’ll be clumsy and uncomfortable at first, but all new interfaces are reflective for while, and “even the most reflective interfaces tends toward transparency as a user becomes accustomed to it,” so sayeth Colin Brooke in Lingua Fracta, page 133.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Review of Echofon, a Twitter Application for the iPhone

December 8th, 2009 No comments

Introduction– Why Think Critically About Twitter?

Our class, Writing For Electronic Communities, has been investigating questions regarding literacy in the hyper-mediated time in which we live. According to Jenkins et al. in “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture,” some of the core competencies for people who are literate in the new media include performance, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, and networking (p. 6). Twitter touches on most of these concepts. Therefore, it is worth investigating how Twitter typifies the development, or retardation of these competencies. Next, I will touch on how Twitter relates to these topics more or less in order.

I think it is safe to argue that Twitter certainly touches on performance. After all, we are constructing identities of ourselves which are certainly only reflections of our “true selves.” This is especially true because we are using Twitter as first, an academic tool, and second, as a social/leisure tool. We are following other academics, and  some of them are following us. It’s safe to assume that this company will certainly constrain the image of ourselves that we are projecting in Twitter.

Many of us multitask with Twitter, another competency that Jenkins et al. discuss. I often Tweet while reading, listening to music, surfing the web, or watching television. Sometimes I am having an issue with an assignment, and ask the class for help. This multitasking is going to become increasingly important with the development of interconnected media devices.

Along the same lines, we tapping into a distributed cognition of sorts when we consult the wisdom of the crowds or even the wisdom of our classmates and colleagues. We are tapping into an interconnected network of people who may be exceptionally well-informed about any number of topics. Twitter encouraging us to tap into this potentially limitless resource.

Because we don’t always know the people with whom we communicate on Twitter, and we may not always be familiar with the sources of information presented to us on the service, it is becoming increasingly important exercise sound judgment when faced with this information. The old rules of media savvy still apply; with the huge pipeline of information available to us, these rules take on even greater importance.

Because Twitter is a multimodal, image-based medium, it certainly encourages transmedia savvy. Tweets often contain links to written articles or videos. We need to be able to follow information across representation systems, as Jenkins et al. suggest in “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture.”

When I think of Twitter in this light, I believe that Echofon more or less serves preserves the medial qualities that make Twitter unique; with Echofon, however, these features are simply more accessible. Twitter is largely the same on Echofon, and supports the same sort of new media literacies that I discussed earlier. Next, I’ll discuss Echofon’s features and compare it to Twitter’s primary web interface, where appropriate.

Echofon’s Features Detailed

The new skills include:
Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation
and discovery
Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world
processes
Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient
details.
Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand
mental capacities
Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with
others toward a common goal
Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information
sources
Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information
across multiple modalities
Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting
multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

Echofon is a relatively feature-filled, highly functional Twtitter application that can be used for the iPhone. I suppose that makes Echofon an iPhone app too. You get the point.

Echofon provides near-full Twitter functionality. I’ve been using it since July, when I bought my iPhone. The various profile settings, however, are not accessible through Echofon. This includes a homepage, bio line, and location.

echofonfriends

Echofon was built to work on a screen like the iPhone’s. The Bottom of the screen shows some of the application’s main functions. Tweets are displayed in reverse-chronological order, just like Twitter’s original interface. The Friend icon allows users to view their friends list. Friends are listed alphabetically, with their profile pictures shown on the left of the screen. There is a bar on the right of the page that allows users to quickly scroll down. For instance, if the user wish to scroll quickly down to his/her friends whose names begin with “T,” he/she simply clicks on the T on the right of the screen. This is very similar to iTunes on the iPhone. When the application is opened after being closed for any length of time, the number of Tweets that have been made from the user’s friendlist will be displayed. Users can refresh the page by hitting the refresh icon on the top. At the top of the page on Echofon, ads are displayed. I think it’s a small price to pay for such a solid application.

The “@mention” button will display every time a Tweet has been directed toward a particular user. When the application has been closed for any length of time, and is re-opened, a number is displayed above the @mention icon displaying how many @replies have been sent to the user.

The “Message” icon displays the private messages that have been sent to or from the user. Individual conversations are kept together as “conversations,” in much the same the iPhone’s text messaging interface works. I would put up a screen shot displaying this, but those are private.

The “Favorites” icon displays any Tweets that the user has marked as his/her favorite. I apparently have three favorites though I don’t remember “favoriting” them.

The “Search” function is extremely useful. It works just like “search.twitter.com,” but is conveniently located on Echofon’s main interface.

echofonsearch

Echofon’s Search function. Here, I searched for our class, #wecf09. The zig-zagging arrow indicates trends. This is how Trending Topics can be followed on Echofon.

echofonprofile

When the user clicks on a friend’s profile, this interface is displayed. Users can easily reply to the Tweet, reTweet, or Direct Message. This is especially useful for re-Tweeting. (I used N’Gai’s profile because he’s the man– he linked to two of my blogs when he used to write for Newsweek. He’s worth following on Twitter if you’re interested in videogames, writing, movies, music, or basketball.)

echfonfriendsearch

This is the friend search function, very similar to iTunes’ equally excellent and intuitive interface.

echofonpic

If the user wishes to Tweet a picture, that can be done easily. Simply click on the camera icon. Then the options to “Shoot Video/Photo,” “Choose Existing Media,” or “Cancel” appear. It is very simple and highly intuitive.

echfonmap

Users can Tweet their geographic location as Echofon is compatible with Google Maps. Users can “Update Profile Location” or “Insert a Google Maps Link.”

echofonsettings

Users can adjust various settings for Echofon through the iPhone’s settings screen. Auto scroll can be turned off, or can be adjusted to display either the last Tweet the user posted or post all unread Tweets. This feature is useful as it allows users to see exactly where the last Tweet is that he/she saw.

Also, users can adjust how often Echofon refreshes. There are options to turn the function off entirely, or to refresh every minute, two minutes, three minutes, or every five minutes. Font size can be adjusted from small, medium or large. The default search screen can be switched to search, history, trends, or location.  Users can also set Tweets to be read at a later time.

Conclusion

This review is more of a justification of a critical evaluation of Twitter and a review of a particular application that facilitates the use of Twitter. I am not sure if there is anything about Echofon that adds or detracts to the theoretical discussion of Twitter, save the former’s relative convenience. I think it is worth noting that Echofon is designed so elegantly that it doesn’t obfuscate the great things Twitter already does, with adding some highly useful features to the service, making the creating of multimodal micro-texts possible.

Collaborative Essay Structure

November 11th, 2009 No comments

After sifting through the collaborative essay structures that you sent me, the consensus reveals itself in the below structure. I have summarized your ideas and added some further suggestions for subjects to be discussed in each section. Each section will, I think, require some additional research to make it thorough, but that is a good thing:

Introduction
general consensus that we should build on and revise Anthony’s introduction; here we also need at least a brief introduction/definition of new media

Literature Review
general consensus that this is where we introduce the frame texts (Selber, Kress, Brooke, Jenkins, and I would add Wesch on YouTube in here) to provide an historical perspective on the main questions: What is literacy? The goal of the rest of the paper is going to be to building to an understanding of how new media challenges that understanding.

Case Study #1: Blogging
Discussion of blogging and its literacy practices, including both examples of and—and this is the most important part—how one constructs such spaces. This is the largest of the case studies.

Case Study #2: Microblogging
Discussion of twitter and its literacy practices, including both examples of and—and this is the most important part—how one constructs such spaces (including the 3rd party app community, API, and cellular usages)

Case Study #3: Video and Remix
Discussion of YouTube and remix culture, including both examples of and—and this is the most important part—how one constructs such spaces (including copyright, intellectual property, Creative Commons, and idea of video as a text)

Case Study #4: Video Games
Discussion video games (1 video game would be best) and its literacy practices, including the games as texts but also how users construct such spaces through their interaction

Case Study #5: Information Processing
Here is the real Web 2.0 discussion, where we think about how we understand, organize, structure, and deal with the massive amounts of information out there. Examples to think about using are We Feel Fine, RSS readers, and so on)

Conclusion, or What To Make of This?
This is going to reveal itself after we put together the other sections, but it will also need to include a brief discussion of the kinds of things that are not covered so that readers understand that it is a limited discussion (that the limited space of the article does not allow for a lager discussion).

We’ll discuss this in class tonight and will divvy up the responsibilities for each section.

A cool app for making your twitter background

November 8th, 2009 2 comments

When you Google “free twitter backgrounds” you get tons of results – not all of them, however, go to truly free sites. Then I found freetwitterdesigner.com:

free twitter designer

In a few simple steps on this site I was able to take a photograph that I took and create a new twitter background. Here’s my twitter page now:

my twitter page

This was an awesome, easy to use twitter app

Categories: Twitter, Twitter apps Tags:

A Short Twitter Exploration

November 1st, 2009 No comments

One of the requirements for the class was to join and post messages on Twitter. This is not something I would normally consider – sometimes new challenges help to stretch your mind. Although, it isn’t really so much of a stretch since it seems to just be a more sophisticated version of text messaging. It is the more sophisticated aspect that makes it special, however. Though it is a platform similar to regular text messaging, you can connect and communicate with a much larger audience than you could with simple singular text messaging in the cell phone world.

While utilizing twitter, it’s easy to forget that you are using a fairly sophisticated networking tool. The twitter site says that twitter is privately funded. The idea grew out of a desire for Jack Dorsey to be able to keep track of what his friends were up to.

When you go to the about page for twitter, you learn a lot more of the specifics about the company and where it is headed.

twitter about us

There were a lot of results when I did a Google search. One of particular interest was a page full of free twitter backgrounds. Though I managed to put up a picture of one of dogs on my twitter page, I found the image is unstable (probably due to size) and it periodically disappears leaving just a brown screen. Though twitter does provide a few backgrounds, I didn’t want to use any of them. This twitter backgrounds page may provide a solution. Additionally, I have seen interesting backgrounds employed by some posters and wondered where they came from. One of the free backgrounds sites is called twitterbackgrounds.com. Of course, if you would like to you can also have a custom designed background for $99 – probably most useful in situations where twitter is used in a business environment.

twitter backgrounds

There are endless options for free twitter backgrounds there – 77 pages of them to be exact.

I only covered a small portion of the twitter information I found. The twitter world is a much larger one to explore than one might initially think.

Now I’m off to explore some backgrounds. Go see the results on my twitter home page.

Categories: Twitter Tags:

Thoughts from a Twitter User

October 31st, 2009 7 comments

Recently I noticed that one of the people I follow on Twitter had been having what I thought of as interesting twitter followersconversations with someone that they follow.  Since I was interested and could only see half of the discussion I decided to follow that individual as well. I didn’t think that there was anything unusual or surprising about that decision. The following day I received a message on my Facebook account from that individual stating that they had noticed that I was following them and asking if I knew them.  I am paraphrasing their words which were said in what I perceived to be a slightly more harsh and accusatory tone.   I was a little surprised and I did not know exactly how to answer the question.  I had not thought that a face to face meeting was a necessary prerequisite to following someone via Twitter.  I did not think that was so for friending someone on Facebook either but I can see where the term “friend” and the idea of calling someone a “friend” might imply that your social spheres have crossed or that there was some level of cordial communication involved.  I did not see it that way at all for Twitter.

I was under the impression that the site promoted following based on the ideas and interests that the individual is tweeting about, among other things of course. Lisa Brookes Kift stated about social networks that they are “a great way to network and foster relationships with like minded people and those interested in learning more about topics that I know something about.” Twitter itself explains that this is a way for individuals to “stay hyper-connected to your friends and always know what they’re doing. Or, you can stop following them at any time. You can even set up quiet times on Twitter so you’re not interrupted. Twitter puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload.”  Dr.John M Grohol PsyD states that Twitter “is a unique form of online socializing. Twitter offers no real beginning, middle or end to a conversation. As a result, the open universe of non-stop, rolling chatter makes people feel like they don’t want to miss anything.”

Twitter is also not just for individuals and small businesses.  More and more twitter activity has become a corporate endeavor.  The suggestions for a successful corporate twitter presence differs somewhat from the common sense etiquette that individuals should follow but not all too much.   According to “Corporate Twitter” by Chris Miller these guidelines include listen to followers, add value and provide useful content, only follow others when followed or mentioned so to not to annoy or appear as spam, respond to every tweet directed at you, and use replies rather than direct messages so to appear more transparent.

Despite recent news hype warning of Twitter’s ability to destroy your non-internet related relationships by making you “less available to your children, friends and partners in your real-life world,” states Soren Gordhamer, an expert on the over-stressed and over-connected, as a new vehicle to “bruise our digital egos”, as a means to lower productivity through distraction,  etc. this is in my opinion an excellent tool for anyone interested in staying informed.

Twubble

October 11th, 2009 4 comments

Twubble is a useful Twitter application that helps users find people to follow based on their friend graph.  The site boasts the question “Looking for people to follow?” and then invites you to put in your twitter user name anTwubbled password so that it can poll though the list of people that you follow.  Twubble’s webpage says it “can help expand your Twitter bubble—it searches your friend graph and picks out people who you may like to follow.”  The application accesses who the people you follow are following.  If two or more of the people you follow are following the same person than it suggests that you follow them as well.  The site includes a global filter that pushes people who are followed by large numbers globally further down the list so that you can see who is popular with your friends locally.  The site then suggests a maximum of 100 followers.

When exploring Twubble I was reminded of Facebook’s Suggested Friends application.  HTwubble 2owever you cannot search though groups with Twubble the way you can with Facebook.  Twubble is useful for avoiding searching manually though Twitter for specific individuals.  It would probably also be helpful for someone who has just created a Twitter account or someone who wants to increase the sphere of people that they communicate with.

The creator of this site is Bob Lee, also known as Crazy Bob, a distinguished software engineer for Google.  Lee states in an interview that “If you use Twitter, Twubble can look at your existing friends’ friends and recommend new people for you to follow. It’s a stupid simple idea, but I think the execution and fun factor have won people over… I used the latest Google Web Toolkit milestone which supports Java 5. I was writing Javascript code (server and client side) for years before I ever got into Java, but I have to say, you’d be crazy to write AJAX apps any other way than GWT nowadays.” In the future Lee would like to add the ability to chose the friends that you want to look at instead of automatically using your thirty most updated contacts which probably include massive twitter accounts like CNN Breaking News, Ashton Kutcher, and Barack Obama who’s followers are in the millions and probably do not have a lot in common with you.

While the application is great for helping you find people you have interests in common with anTwubble 3d making your twitter experience more effective the site itself seemed to have some trouble working on both my laptop and the desktop computer I attempted to use it on.  The message “Twitter is taking longer than expected. If it doesn’t respond soon, refresh and try again” was offered and I am aware that this is a common issue with Twitter’s setup.  After a few tries it worked fine.  Also, it cannot tell if you are already following someone so if you try the application more than once it will offer you people that you already interact with on Twitter.  Overall this is a fun application and I would recommend it to anyone looking to expand their social network and enhance their Twitter experience.

Some fun with Twitpic

October 10th, 2009 2 comments

As an old-school, older student, I am used to downloading programs before being able to use them. I thought Twitpic was no exception. I thought that if I went to the Twitpic site I could easily find a link to download software and begin using this Twitter add-on. Anyone who has been in this situation can imagine how hard it was for me to understand why I couldn’t find a download link. The next day I got up and decided to just play with the page and discovered, to my great joy, that all you really have to do it put in your Twitter ID and password and you could upload and picture and then include a link to the picture in your Twitter posts. I love to use pictures online.

So far I have posted two pictures into my Twitter posts:

Hard to do my reading with these three running around me

Hard to do my reading with these three running around me

and…

Jack, who loves to interrupt my reading

Jack, who loves to interrupt my reading

I love to take pictures and edit them – my pets make perfect subjects. Twitpic is the perfect Twitter app for someone like me.

Categories: Twitter apps Tags: ,