This article was published on July 5, 2010

Forget Diaspora, We Need Someone To Save Twitter

Forget Diaspora, We Need Someone To Save Twitter
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

If you use Twitter you have noticed something quite distressing over the last few weeks: uptime for the service is getting worse. This time around Twitter has been forced to cut API rates, lost @ replies, suffered through very high error rates, and has had no choice but to turn off features to deal with traffic influxes.

In short, everything that was broken on Twitter that we hated so very much to see stop working before is still doing just that: failing. Twitter still can’t handle its growth, its traffic, its usage spikes, and these weaknesses are every day occurrences. Be honest, when was the last day that you did not see at least one fail whale? And yet, we cannot live without Twitter. It is far too ingrained into our lives to let go for even one day.

So, on behalf of the Twitter user community, I vote that some snappy developers start a service that, using your Twitter credentials, creates a running usable backup of your Twitter stream. Not a lifelong archive, but a 24 hour database that you can search and use whenever Twitter decides to give up the ghost. This would be a frozen view at the most recent tweets from everyone you follow in order, all your Lists’ updates, a tally of your @ messages, and copies of your DMs. It would be a full shot of one day’s Twitter for yourself, updated whenever Twitter would let it.

This would only be a useful service for the most dedicated Twitter users, but to be able to access all Twitter information that we want from the last 24 hours that is relevant would be a boon worth paying for. Combine that with what RowFeeder has done, and you have the ability to get 95% of what you want from Twitter, everything except the most breaking updates, in a format that you can search from your desktop when Twitter is kaput.

If you don’t know RowFeeder, they handle custom Twitter searches that are archived into online spreadsheets, allowing you to track specific terms on Twitter over the long-haul. You can also dig farther into the data when you have it pre-collated, making RowFeeder the information junkie’s box of delights.

Perhaps I am one of the few, but I suspect that I am hardly alone in wishing for a third-party method of seeing what Twitter would show me if it was not down when it is.

How often would this service come in handy? At least three times a week if Twitter continues having what I would call its normal rate of meltdown, more if it continues to suffer as it has in the last few weeks. What do you do when Twitter is down and you need information?

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