Redefining relationship through a collaborative Twitter project

by admin on November 8, 2007

in Featured,General,Innovation

I’m writing this as my friend Craig Cmehil’s eventtrack goes into public testing. I wrote about this yesterday but here’s a brief recap.

Two days ago when Jeff Nolan was at Defrag he and a few others were Twittering the event. Jeff asked about the possibility of grouping Tweets to facilitate following the conversation. Such a tool could also be used to discover others who are Twittering an event and so expand the conversation. Since then, Jeff has compiled some useful thoughts about Twitter, grouping and desktop Twitter clients.

Craig stepped up to the plate and started coding. eventtrack is the proposed solution and outcome. It’s bare bones, it’s under test, it will probably fall over at some stage and need debugging. (It already does.) That’s not the point. Something MUCH more important happened.

Jake Kuramoto who is involved with Oracle AppsLab told us that Eddie Awad an Oracle customer had developed a simple tool for doing pretty much the same thing. He’d built it for Twittering Oracle OpenWorld, Oracle’s upcoming shindig in San Francisco.

Remember for one moment that Craig works for SAP in Germany, I’m in Spain and Jake/Eddie are in the Portland area in the US. I’d hasten to add that code was being written in people’s own time.

Jake started a Facebook conversation among the four of us which ran overnight and is continuing. The idea was to share what is known and progress made. I shared some of this with my Irregular chums to get their reaction.

This is a good example of what Professor Andrew McAfee calls emergent behavior where patterns and actions arise out of the unplanned use of these types of tool. What is unique is that we have representatives from two enterprise companies who would otherwise be highly competitive and yet who are working together on this wee project for mutual benefit.

This is entirely in keeping with ideas around how collaboration benefits the community as a whole. In this case, we all have a vested interest in improving an already useful service so there is no barrier to collaboration. That’s a key issue.

While geeks are normally competitive, this is yet another example of shared thinking aimed at improvement. I say ‘another’ because open source development depends on collaboration for its survival and improvement. At the moment, open source is topic du jour among developers with vast resources being poured into projects like Google’s OpenSocial. FreeAgent depends on open source.

In conversation, Jeff pointed out that:

It’s also a reflection on the low cost and short timeline for developing client apps for these networks.

This is a critical point and stands in contrast to the kind of effort needed to develop full blown applications of the kind enterprises are used to hefting yet which are being commoditized by price pressure and competition. But then this is an addon.

It also contrasts sharply with the way relationships between IT and business are usually defined. Are we witnessing a mini watershed? I’d like to think so. We’ve stumbled across each other in a semi-random fashion and this project would not be possible without the innovation mindset characterized by Craig, Eddie and Jake. This is going to be something of a shock to some in their respective organizations. I hope it is because this group has taken a tiny step in redefining relationships in a way I certainly could not envisage.

The burning question for me: how much value is being created? I couldn’t give you an ROI style calculation but for convenience in accessing information of interest it’s hard to put a price.

It’s worth noting that Jake also thinks this is a great idea:

Right now, it seems ironic that the first conference to test eventtrack is OpenWorld, but such is the new web. We are all working together to scratch that itch, and traditional boundaries no longer mean anything.

So what if Craig and I work for companies that compete with each other? So what if we are in different time zones and have never met in person?

That’s what makes this great. We’re still working out the details. This will be fun.

I hope that despite the technical nature of this work that professionals will be able to cut through that and see the implications for the way they operate. It is huge.

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Howard Greenstein November 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Thanks for working on this guys. It's needed and welcome as a project, and great to see folks in competing companies doing great work together..

Jake November 8, 2007 at 7:34 pm

It should be noted that Eddie and Craig did all the heavy lifting in their respective free time. This is also a great case study for the power of weak ties.

Steve November 9, 2007 at 3:48 am

Awesome stuff!

Jeremiah Stone November 10, 2007 at 6:55 pm

Very cool stuff, but is it really necessary to cast this as a watershed moment?

Geeks love building interesting, useful objects. If given an opportunity and no competitive issues exist, they collaborate. This has always been and always will be the case.

dah November 10, 2007 at 10:54 pm

@Jeremiah – I know anecdotally you're right but I think it is a moment to savor given the competitive nature of the companies involved. It's not something I've seen happen before. Of course I could be completely wrong. Either way, it is really nice to see this happening in such a good spirited way.

MidtownNinja November 12, 2007 at 11:31 pm


I’ve just implemented related functionality (not necessarily collaborative, but related to event tracking) as a content-timing service called WhenGuard <a href="http://(” target=”_blank”>( Website visitors can create special timed links, known as jitlinks, around RSS feeds or any Internet content that has a URL. These jitlinks will automatically publish the content they mask at a given time (and can optionally, unpublish it too).

If you set up a jitlink around a Twitter RSS feed with both a publish time and an unpublish time and then stick it in an infinitely caching reader like Google Reader, you’ve effectively created a time slice for feed content–the equivalent of Tivo for RSS.

The service is in its early stages, so I’d appreciate any feedback I could get through the site’s feedback link:


Ontario Emperor November 19, 2007 at 5:37 am

I tweeted some Oracle sessions on my own, while tweeting some other sessions (including Larry Ellison's keynote) in collaboration with others via Eddie Awad's @oow Twitter account. Collaborative tweeting is much easier to find, and offers much better quality. Highly recommended.

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