Noel really has done a lot with OraTweet since June, when he first showed it to me. It’s got all the Twitter features you’d expect, and it has “groups”. Don’t get too excited, it’s more like topics than groups, i.e. people follow a “group” which aggregates tweets to that group.
So, follow the AppsLab group and get any tweets sent @AppsLab.Tweet @AppsLab and reach all the people following that group. Pretty handy, especially when you’re limited to 140 characters and our handles are all standard (and longer) than your average Twitter handle, e.g. jake.kuramoto eats 13 characters vs. only eight for jkuramot.
There’s no concept of membership, which is what Twitter groups really need. TweetDeck offers user-side groups, which is enormously valuable to segment your network into logical groups. Still to be tackled are groups with opt-in membership, which would be great for customer service or team tweeting, e.g. an AppsLab group would have each of us as members, allowing us to tweet as AppsLab, rather than as ourselves.
Still, Noel’s implementation of groups is very handy. Several teams are using this in lieu of a mailing list for status updates and communication, rather than clogging each other’s inboxes. The internal mailing list for iPhone peeps is transitioning over to OraTweet to handle common questions like syncing to calendar, VPN connectivity, etc. Again, to alleviate inbox congestion.
All-in-all, it’s pretty impressive for a side project. Looks like Carl has chipped in his APEX skills to create an API for it, so it won’t be long until an AIR app follows. The XMPP integration is great; reminds me of how great the Twitter version it used to be.
What really struck me was how much uptake OraTweet has seen in under two months. Welcome back my old friend hidden demand. I first met hidden demand a year ago, when we launched Connect, and people who I’d been bugging to try Facebook or LinkedIn were suddenly collecting contacts.
The warm fuzzy of having an app behind the firewall brings out the hidden demand. Hidden demand opens a new user profile to your app too, since most hidden demand users won’t use the consumer version of your social network or micro-blogger, they bring a clean slate of experience to the party. As a designer/develoer, this helps focus the tool.
Scanning the (Ora)tweets, you notice new people finding value and using the tool in different ways. Most of the communication is reply traffic between one or more people or groups/topics. You’ll also find people tweeting their activities and thoughts. Just like Twitter, only safely tucked inside the firewall.
Twitter inside the enterprise has garnered some interest recently. Craig mentioned a while back that he was working on a Twitter clone inside the firewall, and it looks like the SDN community ran with the idea, creating ESME, which will be demoed at Demo Jam at TechEd in September.
Some of the comments on the posts about enterprise Twitter are funny. I guess you’ll always see derision from the consumer side when enterprises adopt technology. Remember intra/extra/ultranets?
For me, it’s yet another communication channel to monitor. Obviously a common problem for everyone. Although I think a Twitter-style app holds a lot value for communication within teams, I personally don’t need another Twitter, and since Noel removed Twitter integration (grr), I can’t combine those streams anymore.
Thankfully, XMPP allows that to happen in Pidgin/Adium, which is rapidly becoming the best way to monitor the firehose now that Facebook chat and Skype are (sort of) supported. Side note: why isn’t there a Twitter plugin?
My interests in Noel’s side project center around how we can roll it into Connect as an OpenSocial app. Plus, I dig the innovation that happens in a hacker’s free time. Noel didn’t have a task assigned or a project plan; he just liked Twitter and thought he could rock out something similar in APEX, in his free time.
So, do you use OraTweet? What do you think? Are you a hidden demand user? Doubt you’ll comment, but we love you. Other thoughts about Twitter in the enterprise?