Tickery starts off very simply, letting you see who pairs of Twitter users follow in common. For example, who do Tim O’Reilly and Tim Bray follow in common? Even simple queries like this are interesting, because they’re a great way to find interesting Twitter users you may want to follow too. In addition, on the Tickery page just below where you enter the two user names, you’ll get to see whether the two users follow each other. So if you find yourself asking “I wonder if X follows Y?” you can use Tickery to find out immediately, which beats scrolling through multiple pages on twitter.com.
Please be patient with Tickery if you do a query on a user we haven’t added yet. Tickery uses the Twitter API to get information about users, and there are restrictions on how fast we can make those API calls.
Tickery lets you sign in via Twitter – see the button on the top right of the tab bar. If you sign in you can filter results to show just the people you’re following (or not), you can click to follow new people, and you can send out tweets with links to Tickery results of interest.
Tickery’s Intermediate tab offers a big jump in power. Enter simple queries using Twitter user names, and simple terms like and, or and except. For example, the query (jack and ev and biz) except terrycojones shows me Twitter users that all the three Twitter founders follow, but who I do not. Or get possible hints on which entrepreneurs are being followed by one firm and missed by another: for example who does everyone at Union Square Ventures follow that no-one at Betaworks does?
Tickery also has an Advanced tab, which gives you another big jump in power. I’ll save a description of that for another post, but to whet your appetite, here are users Tickery knows about with a Twitter id less than 1000 and people I follow on Twitter that I have also met in person. Or see the description and examples in the "huh?" button on the Advanced tab.
Powered by FluidDB
The most important and interesting thing about Tickery is that it’s built on top of FluidDB (description, API). Tickery is great fun all by itself, but it was built to show what we at Fluidinfo think the relationship between applications, their users, and their data will come to look like. That’s also the subject of an upcoming post, but here are a few bullet points to give you an idea of why applications like Tickery, written on top of FluidDB, may look normal but are in fact very different. Such applications, in combination with an information architecture like FluidDB will:
- Leave users in control of their data, which includes letting them use other applications to work on it and, if you’re really serious, being able to turn off access to the application that stored it for you.
- Make the world writable by default, by allowing anyone to add anything to the underlying data in any way they like.
- Selectively protect individual aspects of data objects on a user-by-user and application-by-application basis.
- Allow users and applications to put their name (like an internet domain name) on pieces of data, thereby stamping that data with trust and reputation.
- Let you combine and organize your data, in isolation or with anyone else’s, via search and tagging.
- Let other applications add more data, in a compatible and integrated way, without needing the permission or advance knowledge of the original application.
- Explicitly allow for, and encourage, the flexible evolution of data structure conventions, similar to the way that we see evolution of tagging and hashtags.
You can read about this in the context of Tickery on the About tab.
These are the kinds of ideas that people have recently been writing about as the future of data. For example, see some of these articles: The Future: Operating System And Application-Neutral Data, We need a Wikipedia for data, Can Twitter Survive What is About to Happen to It?, Shared data services – the next frontier?, and Robert Scoble’s Twitter to turn on advertising “you will love” (here’s how: SuperTweet). While you’re at it, you might enjoy Scoble’s article The unfundable world-changing startup, which he wrote about Fluidinfo a year ago.
Stay tuned, there’s much more to come. If you’d like to find out how to write programs that can augment and use the data Tickery has stored in FluidDB, have a read of Tickery, for programmers.