While looking at the Twitter API last week I found myself taking a glance at the public timeline - basically just to see what fields the RSS and XML feeds offered. I didn’t really pay the content all that much attention, but one of the updates struck me as pretty funny. I took a look at a couple more and found that out of the 10 most recent updates two were fairly humorous. The funniest ones, I thought, were the ones taken out of context. If you randomly look at just one update without following the person’s entire “conversation” it can sometimes be a lot funnier than the whole.
That got me thinking (I can hear Jose saying “Uh-oh” now). How about grabbing the last 10 or so updates from the Twitter public timeline at random times during the day, filtering out the junk and then judging the best of the rest for humor, inspiration, whatever.
Last night I built a console app that would grab the last X status updates from the Twitter public timeline at random times and add it to a database. Tonight I built a simple admin interface for deleting and ranking the tweets. Then I built a simple one page front end for displaying the top 10 from the day prior. The end result - RandomTweets.com.
I think that it would work better as a community driven site allowing users to rate the random tweets via a +1/-1 method like Digg or DotNetKicks, but for now (since there is no community with an hours-old site) it will have to be manually done by me. Patrons will be subjected to the top ten based on my sense of humor. Luckily the manual labor is only 15 minutes work or so to delete the trash and pick out the gems. Surprisingly, I’ve found from one days experience that there is no lack of humor in random updates taken from Twitter - it was really difficult for me to pare the list down to ten. It could easily have been 25 instead, but I’m leaning more towards simplicity both in the UI and options.
My abbreviated ToDo list includes:
adding an RSS feed for the top 10 from the previous day (so it would be like Gullible.info’s RSS feed - just one RSS update per day), DONE
add the ability for users to comment on each of the tweets,
add an “archive” or some way of seeing the the top 10 from past days (DONE)
eventually add the ability for the community to rate the random tweets (and thus determine the top 10) rather than me doing so.
further randomize the randomization. Currently I’m just hitting Twitter once an hour and grabbing the last 20 updates. I think I should change the timer to pull the data at some random time between 30-90 minutes and then reset again. DONE
Overall it’s a simple idea with a simple implementation. The data gathering is simple, the site is simple, I’m pretty simple. Oh wait… didn’t mean that last one.
Let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions. Feedback is welcomed.
P.S. - for many of you reading this the site’s UI will look very familiar :)