Given the widespread debate and discussion surrounding the apparent conflict between Twitter and third-party developers following the acquisition of Tweetie, today is a very important day for both parties. Twitter is holding the first official Twitter developer conference, called Chirp, in San Francisco, CA where, hopefully, some questions will be answered.
As third-party developers of a twitter-based product, all of us at Fresh ID would have loved to attend the conference, but it just wasn’t a viable option. However, our developer Joe happens to live in California, so we decided to foot the bill to send him to the conference and do a little recon. To make it even more exciting, we decided this would be a great way to use Twitterface for ourselves and others who aren’t able to physically attend. Fortunately, Twitter decided to live stream the entire conference via justin.tv, allowing Kristi to setup an Intefy (new name for Twitterface) page for Chirp at www.twitterface.com/chirp. Thus, we have been able to sit in the office and watch the entire conference (and, of course, get nothing else done).
Having Joe on the ground at the conference has also provided a “non-Twitter official” view of the conference. When the official live stream goes off-air, we are able to switch the feed over to our developer and watch what is going on in between presentations. We also got to watch some interviews with other attendees. During the lunch break, Joe was able to interview Tyson Lundbech (@tysonlundbech) and learn more about ecoVouch, a project he is working on. It’s as if we are actually at the conference.
Though being able to attend the conference virtually is extremely cool and convenient, more important is what we are learning from the conference. What valuable information have we gleaned from listening to Twitter Execs and fellow developers talk about the history and future of the platform? Good question.
Yes, we are learning a lot about the history of Twitter, including the terrible design of the first home page, and the future of the service, such as improvements that are being made to the system. However, there is more important information to gain from this conference than how Twitter was created and how it’s being improved. It’s a little too early in the conference to make conclusions about the future of third-party Twitter development, but a few things have become quite clear. Based on the first wave of speeches and presentations, it is clear that Twitter wants to be upfront about the challenges that face a company valued at over a $1 Billion. Though many will be sad to see Twitter start acting like the large-scale company it has become, the fact of the matter is that there is business to be done and money to be made. There is no doubt that Tweetie will not be the last acquisition, as Twitter has to find some way to justify the massive investments that have been made to the company. This is simply something that developers are going to have to swallow.
In the midst of all the uncertainty, Ryan Sarver (@rsarver), Director of Platform for Twitter, offered a ray of hope for those of us who want to continue customizing Twitter through third-party development. Sarver, in presenting the future of Twitter and updates to the service, stated multiple times how important third-party development is to Twitter. Sarver said, “We want to learn how to work together as opposed to working against.” Twitter thrives off third-party development that only extends the reach and capability of the service, and it is clear that Twitter Execs don’t want to see that disappear.
Hopefully, as the conference continues and the after parties kick off, the conversation will revolve around the opportunity in the future for third party developers to continue to work with Twitter and extend the value of the service with innovations and features, rather than continue to focus on the debate over Twitter’s corporate policy.
If you are sitting at work or home and want to catch the rest of the conference, you can do so at the Chirp Twitterface page. It will be live for the rest of the conference today and tomorrow.