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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Twitter Soon to Launch @anywhere and be @everywhere

At SXSW,  Twitter CEO Evan Williams announced Twitter's new @anywhere platform. The idea is remnant of a Google Maps API and Facebook Connect fusion, where you can directly integrate Twitter into your website. Follow journalist by their bylines, tweet YouTube videos without leaving YouTube, that kind of stuff. On Twitter's blog they say:
Soon, sites many of us visit every day 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.
Now this becomes an interesting concept from both the social and the technical aspect. Starting with the former, this service will hopefully give Twitter the universality it needs to enlarge its user base. Integration is key when it comes to attracting users, because your average individual on the Internet is lazy, and having to go out of there way and spend time to do something that should be done in one or two mouse clicks is an insane idea for the lazy computer user. With integration into other sites, Twitter will literally expand their reach. Furthermore, the service includes features such as having anything that has a Twitter account on the page you are viewing linked to their respective Twitter profiles.

They say they already have Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, Yahoo!, and YouTube on board, which is an amazing start. (And notice Google is notoriously absent from this list...) And considering this is supposed to be Twitter's answer to Facebook Connect, they are doing a pretty damn good job. The integration aspect of the service is certainly beyond the common usage of Facebook Connect, which for me has only logged me into sites and allowed websites to post to my Facebook. Twitter's @anywhere seems like it plans to really become a part of the website, rather than just be a connected third-party script, which will definitely help them in the long run.

In addition to the social aspect, it brings interesting questions concerning the technical aspect of the script. A few lines of Javascript is supposed to highlight relevant Twitter profiles, which includes scanning the page and testing suspected terms, allow integrated following and tweeting, and other features. How Twitter plans to implement the script is an interesting question, and we will have to wait and see what real configuration beyond a few lines of code will be necessary to fully integrate the script into the website. Does the script highlight Twitter profiles automatically, or is there a manual method? How can you configure the script to take different shapes, colors, and forms? And how is this all going to be done in a few lines of script? These are all interesting questions that Twitter will soon answer upon the official release of @anywhere.

For now, @anywhere is just a placeholder, but the upcoming weeks and months of Twitter integration  might bring a change entirely how we think and use Twitter as a service.

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