Making Twitter Smarter

Soren and Howard have been busy building out stocktwits and today they sent me a link to a firefox extension that makes twitter a bit smarter. When you add the stocktwits extension to firefox, a stock tweet will look like this:


Those tickers are now hotlinked to stocktwits. This gets me excited. Because someone could do so much more with this idea. We have a few companies that are trying to extract meaning out of content on the web. Adaptive Blue recognizes pages about things (books, music, film, stocks, wine, people, etc). recognizes posts and articles about places (neighborhoods, schools, parks, etc). And Zemanta recognizes concepts in blog posts and recommends content to add to your post.

What if they and others put out similar extensions? Then twitter would get smarter. The links that people send around on twitter are one of the best things about the service. It’s like a live collaborative RSS reader. But if every tweet had links in that were added semantically, then we’d really have something.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. stanleyyork

    the only thing i don’t like about some of these programs/services is that they require download. i mostly use chrome and therefore dont have the option, besides, i’m not a huge fan of loading up my firefox browser with addons and plugins

    1. fredwilson

      i went back to ff from chrome because i couldn’t live without my extensions

  2. Sampad Swain

    Thanks Fred for that tip. Truly twitter can be used as a collaborative RSS Reader only if somehow we are able to filter the links accordingly.There are so many apps on Twitter which increases its scope extensively.—Sampad

  3. AndyFinkle

    “IT’s like a live collaborative RSS reader…” Brilliant comment Fred… I have always said that RSS should stand for “Really Stupid Syndication”…It has never been a grandma friendly technology, and I have yet to see a good reader. I personally use a 3rd party Twitter service so that those that want to follow my blog can simply follow my Twitter ID to be notified of new blog posts. Your comment has my eyes opening even wider in that Twitter can replace and be a much better RSS one day. Also Looking forward to seeing where those guys take stocktwits too! Like I (and others) have done for Twitter, I have already identified a lot of directions they can take the product. Seeing the extension you allude to tells me they are not asleep at the

  4. howardlindzon

    thx fred – soren done goood

    1. fredwilson

      On many fronts

  5. Todd Sullivan

    it is not compatible with firefox 3.1

  6. John Treadway

    The application is cool, but the model for distribution via toolbar plug-in is broken.If Twitter could get opened up a bit – not as far as fb, but a bit – a platform model could be used where stocktwits runs a service that you can subscribe to where your tweets go through them before going out again. Send a tweet to, the stocktwits “server extension” I have authorized through my twitter account grabs the tweet (and twitter does not post it right away). Then, stocktwits does it’s magic and twitter recognizes the $ticker extension as a clickable item for those who use stocktwits… anyway – the way to make this sing is for Twitter to build in a server-side extensions platform.

    1. fredwilson

      Extensions are a great way to test out an idea but I agree that a serverside extension is a better approach.I’ll relay this to the twitter team

      1. stanleyyork

        yes, exactly what i was talking about. a more scalable approach. and with other add-on services/applications i think it would be easier for twitter to monetize.

  7. TimWalker

    Thanks for this, Fred — I hadn’t seen this, but I can put it to use right away.

  8. BillSeitz

    Twitter could own this by controlling the use of prefix characters, just like @ and #.They could auction or give away. (would need some way to define basis for clawing back)

  9. Joe Lazarus

    I like the server-side extension concept, particularly for enriching simple links that people include in their posts (ex. there could be an extension that converts any URL that points to YouTube into an inline, embeded video in my Twitter timeline).I imagine the symbol based ones (ex. $ for stocks, # for tags, etc) have limited potential in that there are only so many uses that a) fit in 140 characters, b) everyone can agree on, and c) are intuitive and easy to remember. Stocks are a good fit in that they are short character strings and you don’t need to be a Twitter geek to recognize GOOG as the symbol for Google. If there were too many of those special characters, you would have to learn a whole new language just to update your status correctly. It’s got to be pretty confusing even today for a new user to learn that @ = reply, $ = stock, # = tag, OH = overheard, RT = retweet, and so on.Interestingly, @ replies started out as a hack that Twitter eventually implemented on the sever end, along with hyperlinks to the person being replied to and, more recently, full discussion threads.

  10. Fraser

    Soren and the StockTwits team are killing it. Great release. I was impressed with how rapidly they integrated AB Meta into their service as well.What’s cool about this is that stock fans can click through from twitter directly to StockTwits and the Glue bar will appear connecting them to friends who have also interacted with the stock.

    1. howard lindzon

      exactly dude. thx

  11. Alfred

    Twitter’s supposedly to be announced business model next year could be keyword hotlinks. Keyword hotlinks have been a key component for Fatwallet forum. keywords like dell are hotlinked to dell ( for a price), so in way, Twitter could do well using that model too.

  12. Edwin Khodabakchian

    Interesting timing: This is something feedly has been working on for a little bit of time and will preview next week. Happy thanksgiving.

  13. agbiotec

    The semantic web emerging via harnessing some collective intelligence ? Yes, I think this is the way to go….

  14. DavidCohen

    Someone should build a meta-plugin. In other words, a single plug in that any company can build a web-based adapter for.

    1. howardlindzon

      such a geek dave. you should start an incubator

    2. bd808

      Someone did. It’s called greasemonkey and variants are available for mozilla, opera, safari, konqueror, IE and chrome.

  15. John Sjölander

    I really agree, but one serios question is the semantic bias. I want to know that my links point to relevant things. Given so little information in each tweet it may be really really hard to pinpoint that. Of course, one would analyze my previous posts, people I post with and links I post, in conjunction with other knowledge about me to support that, but I believe that the semweb still has some ways to go before relevancy is 100%. 99% just isn’t good enough for me.

    1. John Sjölander

      I had a thought that would help the accuracy of such semantics on the way. Imagine a delicious for twitter, where you can tag authors, single tweets or hashtags with relevant information. using info from such a service, if it would gain momentum, would clearly further those 99% to a perfect 100%.

  16. hypermark

    For what it’s worth, here is an attempt to articulate a ’structured’ tweet service based on consumer, small biz, fred wilson and procter & gamble segmented universe.The idea is a tiered model whereby ‘basic’ twitter remains free but premium structured service offered for online brand builders and commercial businesses.Twitter-nomics: Envisioning Structured Tweets…Check it out if interested.Mark

    1. fredwilson

      That’s interestingI need to noodle on thatSome good ideas in there

  17. Mack Male

    So kind of like what Twitter Search already does with usernames (anywhere in the tweet) and hashtags. Why Twitter and Twitter Search aren’t more in-line with one another continues to boggle my mind.

  18. rafer

    don’t tell me that you aren’t familiar with PowerTwitter, from the 30Boxes gang!!

    1. fredwilson

      I am now ScottAdding it to FF nowThanks for the tip!

  19. Vaibhav Domkundwar

    This is great and I am a big believer of Twitter-based applications or lets say communities which help groups to come together to discuss certain topic areas and find the latest updates about those topics. But the complete dependence on twitter (which is the only one with critical mass right now) makes me worry. Also I think FF plugins are a tough sell – even the savvy users don’t end up doing that. I am surprised that you use FF plugins considering that you don’t use RSS readers.

  20. Bertil

    I couldn’t find any information about non-US based stocks: are they used on Twitter, managed by StockTwits; are there possible homonymy? I don’t thing it’s a detail: they have been influenced recently, and you might want to invest and find actionnable conversation with people knowledgeable about foreign car-makers, luxury-centered companies, alcohol sellers.

    1. ppearlman

      great idea bertil