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140 character Twitter mystery – the answer October 12, 2009

Posted by Anand Mallaya in internet, social media, technology, web.
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In the previous post we have looked at anatomy of a tweet to find answers to the 140 character mystery. It quite nagged me for a while. My geek mind was losing to find an explanation. Today I found a solution. It has nothing to do with the twitter protocols probably, but some thing simpler. Twitter was created with a goal of a simple interface for near-real time communication. With a ubiquitous access to the service.

They gave all kind of user interfaces, like a web based one for web browser users,  APIs for web application developers- so that developers can create applications easily, and for mobile phones through text messages.

Guess what? Now you may have got a clue.

The text message or SMS was a protocol initially designed to optimally use the telephony based GSM mobile technology. The key idea for SMS was to use this telephony-optimized system and to transport messages on the signaling paths needed to control the telephony traffic during time periods when no signaling traffic existed. The message length was limited by the signalling protocol used at that time. Initially it was 128 bytes and later changed to 140 bytes length.

Now Twitters’ designers may have also targetted text message users, the most widely used data application on the planet.

SMS user stats

SMS user stats

Hence my answer.

To find the real answer we need to contact Twitter engineers..

Phew I will get a good sleep today :p

Anatomy of a tweet – 140 character mystery August 15, 2009

Posted by Anand Mallaya in computers, internet, social media, technology.
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Everybody tweets now-a-days. Even cats tweet(@sockongton). A tweet is a burst of 140 characters from all those interesting ‘characters’ around the globe, describing ‘what they are are doing’. I wonder why just 140 characters. why not 130 or 150. So I started digging and the search lead me to check the technical anatomy of a tweet. And it gave some interesting facts about twitter. I will put the tweet anatomy examination report.

  • Number of charactr in a tweet is 140
  • Total content length(XHR request) when a tweet is 140 exactly(maximum length) – 262
  • Minimum content length(XHR request) when a tweet is one char long – 107
  • Meaning XHR header content length is 106 byte- a constant

So I checked for an answer with twitter API response

We can check a users’ status using User/show APIhttp://twitter.com/users/show.xml?screen_name=anandcv

The response is an xml file( given below is the response of my user id @anandcv when my last tweet was 140 char long)

Twitter user/show API respone

Twitter user/show API respone

Ther response got an interesting field in the status – <truncated>false</truncated>.

Probably a remainder of early implementation, which allowed more than 140 characters. Currently twitter web interface allows only 140 chars.

The other fields are

<created_at></created_at> – the time stamp
<id></id>  – the unique message id
<text></text> – the tweet itself
<source></source> – source of the tweet (from web or other tools etc..)
<in_reply_to_status_id/> – Replying to some tweet?
<in_reply_to_user_id/> –  Replying to somebody user id?
<favorited>false</favorited> – favorited?
<in_reply_to_screen_name/> – screen name of the user.

No clues yet. The search continues…

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Twitter – the dawn of the real-time web July 5, 2009

Posted by Anand Mallaya in internet, technology, web.
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Twitter.com is omnipresent in the web.  Since its inception in 2006, in a short time span Twitter has grown to such a magnitude that Google got scared. The reason – collaboration and real-time. The incredible combination resulted in phenomenal popularity. The service is very simple and useful and  became omnipresent in the web.

image source:  Google trends

If  google discovered the power of data, Twitter discovered the real-time. In this fast world real-time means a lot. And data is powered by the evergrowing crowds. The API(Application Programming Interface) supported by twitter offered the data open to the technical community. And that proved just right thing to do. The data was used in a very creative ways.

From stock trading (Stocktwits) and real estate(TweetLister) to diet and exercise(Twackit), twitter found a long list of applications.

And twitter is attracting a large number of famous people from celebrities, writers and millionaires to politicians and leaders, all finds time to tweet.

Let us wait and see what wonders Twitter will bring in forecoming days.