April 29, 2010
@ 01:45 PM

Earlier this morning, Ori Amiga posted Messenger across the Web on the Inside Windows Live blog. Key excerpts from his blog post include

Earlier today, John Richards and Angus Logan took the stage at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam where they announced Messenger Connect – a new way for partners and developers to connect with Messenger. Messenger Connect allows web, Windows and mobile app developers to create compelling social experiences on their websites and apps by providing them with social promotion and distribution via Messenger.

Messenger Connect

Messenger Connect brings the individual APIs we’ve had for a long time (Windows Live ID, Contacts API, Messenger Web Toolkit, etc.) together in a single API that's based on industry standards and specifications (OAuth WRAP, ActivityStrea.ms, PortableContacts) and adds a number of new scenarios.

The new Messenger Connect provides our developer partners with three big things:

  • Instantly create a user profile and social graph: Messenger user profile and social graph information allows our shared customers to easily sign-in and access their friends list and profile information. This allows our partners to more rapidly personalize their experiences, provides a ready-made social graph for customers to interact with, and provides a channel to easily invite additional friends to join in.
  • Drive engagement directly through chat indirectly through social distribution: By enabling both real-time instant messaging conversations (chat) and feed-based sharing options for customers on their site, developers can drive additional engagement and usage of their experiences by connecting to the over 320 million Messenger customers worldwide.
  • Designing for easy integration in your technical environment: We are delivering an API service that will expose a RESTful interface, and we’ll wrap those in a range of libraries (including JavaScript, .NET, and others). Websites and apps will be able to choose the right integration type for their specific scenario. Some websites prefer to keep everything at the presentation tier, and use JavaScript libraries when the user is present. Others may prefer to do server-side integration, so they can call the RESTful endpoints from back-end processes. We're aiming to provide the same set of capabilities across the API service and the libraries that we offer.

I’m really proud of the work that’s gone into building Messenger Connect. Although I was in some of the early discussions around it, I ducked out early to focus on the platform behind the new social view in Messenger and didn’t have much insight into the day to day of building the product. However I’ve got to say I love the way the project has turned out. I suspect a lot of web developers will as well.

Kudos to Ori and the rest of the team.

Note Now Playing: Ludacris - My Chick Bad (featuring Nicki Minaj) Note


Categories: Platforms | Windows Live

Over on the Inside Windows Live blog there’s a new post titled Preview of the new Windows Live Messenger which talks about a key part of what I’ve been working on over the past year or so. Interesting tidbits from the blog post include

Today in a speech at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil, Steve Ballmer is sharing a preview of the new Windows Live Messenger. In this post we want to talk more about our philosophy and approach for this new version.

Staying in touch with close friends

Most people today visit at least one social network and dozens of content sharing sites, get email with photos and social notifications, and of course, maintain accounts in numerous places with different sets of friends and content. So we focused on connecting Messenger to the social networks you already use, and prioritizing the most important updates so you can quickly see what your favorite people are doing, wherever they’re doing it.

We know your close friends share using email, IM, and social networks. So we brought all of those together into a single view. The status from your Facebook friends who don’t use Messenger? Check. The photos your mom sent you as plain old e-mail attachments? Check. The Office docs you’re collaborating on with friends in SkyDrive? Check. And the stuff your favorite Messenger friends are doing on hundreds of sites they choose to share from? Check.

And since simple “aggregation” can make things worse instead of better, we focused on prioritizing the people that matter most to you, so you don’t miss the handful of important updates from your closest friends and family just because your college and work “friends” are broadcasting their whole life every minute of the day. Just tag your favorite people, and we optimize your feed for the stuff those people are doing. Of course, it’s not 100% exclusive to your favorites – the most interesting things from your other friends like photos, videos, and links (especially the ones being commented on a lot) are there too. This makes us a great companion to the services you already love like Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, LinkedIn and more – and when you have time to go beyond those most important updates, diving deeper into those sites is just a click away.

Lastly, we recognized that we could connect your social updates to the power of the Windows PC and really bring it to life. So we took advantage of the latest advances in hardware and graphics to give you a modern social experience. This means that Messenger brings beautiful high-resolution views of the photos, videos, and links that your friends are sharing, right to your desktop. View their Facebook albums, gorgeously presented so that they're fun to browse through and easy to comment on. Messenger is also the simplest way to update your status and instantly post it to other sharing sites you use. You can even bring your photo albums right into high-definition video chats with your friends.

Here’s a picture of the new social view for Messenger:

Picture of the new social view of the main Messenger window

This is a pretty exciting day for the team and I’ll be scouring the web looking to read what people think about what we’re building. If you want to learn more about the new version of Messenger, you can visit messengerpreview.com 

Later in the year, I’ll see what I can do about writing a post on the Inside Windows Live blog about the philosophy and technology that underlies this experience. Let me know in the comments what you would like to learn more about in such a post. 

Note Now Playing: DJ Khalid - All I Do Is Win (featuring Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, and T-Pain) Note


Categories: Social Software | Windows Live

David Recordon of Facebook has an interesting post titled Why f8 was good for the open web where he talks about how some of Facebook’s announcements at their recent F8 conference increase the openness of the Web. He calls out the following four items as the key benefits to the web as a whole from the F8 announcements

  1. No 24-hour caching limit
  2. An API that is realtime and isn’t just about content
  3. The Open Graph protocol
  4. OAuth 2.0

Of these, the third seems to me to be the most beneficial to the Web as a whole. The first, second and fourth items are really about benefits to Facebook developers. Although I guess you could argue that such a significant service adopting OAuth 2.0 is great for increasing adoption across the Web. However this pales in comparison to the fundamental shifts in thinking introduced by the Open Graph Protocol.

Evolving the Social Graph

The first question is what problem does the Open Graph Protocol solve for Facebook and why are they releasing it?

Figure 1: The Facebook Social Graph in 2006

The original Facebook social graph had a one type of node and edge. The nodes were users and the edges were friend relationships. The operations you could perform on the nodes are also straightforward. How many friends does Jane have? Is Kim a friend of Mary? And so on. As more features were added to the site, new nodes and edges were added to the social graph

Figure 2: The Facebook Social Graph in 2009

Each of these nodes supports similar operations. By counting the number of incoming connections you can tell how many fan's Justin Bieber has, how many people want to show the world their love for the Ramblin’ Wreck or how many people have added Mary as a friend. However as Facebook tries to model more of our offline world, it is clear that these aren’t the only types of relationships that users can have nor are these nodes the only entities users can have a relationship with. Which brings us to…

Figure 3: The Facebook Social Graph in 2011

The Open Graph Protocol is the first step in allowing Facebook users express relationships with arbitrary social objects. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of social objects, Hugh McLeod wrote a great introductory post on this concept entitled social objects for beginners which is excerpted below

The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else. Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that “node” in the social network, is what we call the Social Object.

Example A. You and your friend, Joe like to go bowling every Tuesday. The bowling is the Social Object.

Example B. You and your friend, Lee are huge Star Wars fans. Even though you never plan to do so, you two tend to geek out about Darth Vader and X-Wing fighters every time you meet. Star Wars is the Social Object.

Example C. You’ve popped into your local bar for a drink after work. At the bar there’s some random dude, sending a text on this neat-looking cellphone you’ve never seen before. So you go up to him and ask him about the phone. The random dude just LOVES his new phone, so has no trouble with telling a stranger about his new phone for hours on end. Next thing you know, you two are hitting it off and you offer to buy him a beer. You spend the rest of the next hour geeking out about the new phone, till it’s time for you to leave and go dine with your wife. The cellphone was the social object.

Example D. You’re a horny young guy at a party, in search of a mate. You see a hot young woman across the room. You go up and introduce yourself. You do not start the conversation by saying, “Here’s a list of all the girls I’ve gone to bed with, and some recent bank statements showing you how much money I make. Would you like to go to bed with me?” No, something more subtle happens. Basically, like all single men with an agenda, you ramble on like a yutz for ten minutes, making small talk. Until she mentions the name of her favorite author, Saul Bellow. Halleluiah! As it turns out, Saul Bellow happens to be YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR as well [No, seriously. He really is. You’re not making it up just to look good.]. Next thing you know, you two are totally enveloped in this deep and meaningful conversation about Saul Bellow. “Seize The Day”, “Herzog”, “Him With His Foot In His Mouth” and “Humbolt’s Gift”, eat your heart out. And as you two share a late-night cab back to her place, you’re thinking about how Saul Bellow is the Social Object here.

There are more examples in Hugh’s post but you get the idea. Social objects had been represented by “fan pages” in the Facebook world but with the Open Graph Protocol, it is now possible for any random website to become a part of Facebook’s social graph. This is a very powerful and liberating concept both from the perspective of what it enables Facebook’s platform to do but also because it gets rid of some ugly forms of lock-in. For example, Robert Scoble would no longer need to maintain a brand presence on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/scobleizer that is different from his website at http://www.scobleizer.com to stay connected with fans of his blog who are Facebook users. 

Turning Web Pages into Social Objects

The process of turning a web page into a social object that Facebook can add to their social graph is very straightforward. From the Open Graph Protocol documentation we learn

To turn your web pages into graph objects, you need to add basic metadata to your page. We've based the initial version of the protocol on RDFa which means that you'll place additional <meta> tags in the <head> of your web page. The four required properties for every page are:

  • og:title - The title of your object as it should appear within the graph, e.g., "The Rock".
  • og:type - The type of your object, e.g., "movie". Depending on the type you specify, other properties may also be required.
  • og:image - An image URL which should represent your object within the graph.
  • og:url - The canonical URL of your object that will be used as its permanent ID in the graph, e.g., "http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500/".

As an example, the following is the Open Graph protocol markup for The Rock on IMDB:

<html xmlns:og="http://opengraphprotocol.org/schema/">
<title>The Rock (1996)</title>
<meta property="og:title" content="The Rock" />
<meta property="og:type" content="movie" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500/" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/rock.jpg" />

The following properties are optional for any object and are generally recommended:

  • og:description - A one to two sentence description of your object.
  • og:site_name - If your object is part of a larger web site, the name which should be displayed for the overall site. e.g., "IMDb".

For now Facebook supports a limited set of object types from the following categories; activities, businesses, groups, organizations, people, places, products & entertainment & websites. Once your page is marked up and categorized, the next step is to provide a way for users to add it to their social graph on Facebook. This is done by using adding the Facebook Like button to the page. From then onward, when a user clicks the Like button they become a fan of that page.

Not only is your page added to their profile but you can also send news feed updates to all the people who have liked your page (just like “Fan Pages” can) if you associate the Like button with your Facebook ID. Doing that provides you with an admin page where you can post news feed entries from.

The Return of the Semantic Web

One of the things I find most exciting about this development is that sites now have significant motivation to be marked up with extremely structured data which can then be consumed by other applications. Having such rich descriptive metadata will be a boon to search engines especially those from startups since some of the big guys consider their ability to extract semantics out of HTML tag soup a competitive advantage and have thus fought the semantic web for years.

In the social media space, a few people have focused on the fact that this data is put in place to enable sites to be added to Facebook’s social graph. However there is little reason why other social networking services couldn’t also read the same markup as a way to add those web sites to their social graph. For example, Yelp is one of the sites that now supports the Open Graph Protocol so when I click like the Pro Sports Club it is added to the list of “pages” I’m a fan of on Facebook. However I could just as easily see that being a [Twitter – Like] button which would add the Twitter account for the gym to my following list along with tweeting to my followers that I liked the gym. It would only take adding a markup element to what Yelp is outputting to indicate the Twitter account of the page being liked. With my Windows Live hat on, I can imagine going to Amazon or IMDB and clicking a [Windows Live – Like] button which would add the movie to my list of favorite things. There are a ton of possibilities this opens up in a totally decentralized way without forcing services or users to be locked into a particular social network.

This has been the dream Tim Berners-Lee has been pushing for years and I’m quite surprised to see Facebook being the service to take RDFa mainstream. One of the things I’m happiest about is that Facebook chose RDFa for their implementation instead of the much hyped yet weaker solution, microformats. As Evan Prodromou wrote a few years ago in his post RDFa vs. Microformats, RDFa encourages interoperable implementations between organizations and avoids naming collisions via namespacing as opposed to the microformats approach which requires a centralized committee process to add/remove elements from data formats. From my example above, adding support for indicating the Twitter account of a page that implemented the Open Graph Protocol would be as simple as adding an element namespaced to some Twitter URI. That is distributed extensibility in action.

Final Thoughts

This is a very exciting time for the Web. I suspect that this will be another Facebook platform hit that exceeds expectations. The same way no one could have predicted Zynga and Farmville when the Facebook platform first launched is the way I feel we’ll all be surprised at the sorts of things that will be powered by the Open Graph Protocol in the next year or two.

Note Now Playing: Timbaland - Say Something (featuring Drake) Note


April 19, 2010
@ 03:38 PM

There's an interesting post on ReadWriteWeb about a burgeoning technology effort supported by a number of web companies titled XAuth: The Open Web Fires a Shot Against Facebook Connect which states

A consortium of companies including Google, Yahoo, MySpace, Meebo and more announced tonight that it will launch a new system on Monday that will let website owners discover which social networks a site visitor uses and prompt them automatically to log-in and share with friends on those network. The system is called XAuth and serves to facilitate cross-site authentication (logging in) for sharing and potentially many other uses.

Facebook and Twitter, the dominant ways people share links with friends outside of email, are not participating

What XAuth Delivers

It's like Facebook Connect, but for every other social network.

The gist here is that XAuth will make it easier for sites around the web to find out what social networks you are using, let you log in to those easily, access your permitted information from those networks in order to better personalize your experience on their site and easily share their content back into your social network. It's like Facebook Connect, but for every other social network. Any website can register as an identity provider with XAuth, too.

What About OAuth?

If you're familiar with OAuth, you might be wondering what the difference is between that system of secure authentication and XAuth. Here's one way to explain it: XAuth tells a webpage "this is where the site visitor does social networking." Then, OAuth is the way the user logs in there, granting the site permission to access their info without seeing their password. In other words, XAuth tells you where to ask for OAuth from.

Google's Joseph Smarr, recently hired because of his high-profile work on distributed identity systems across the web, says that XAuth is a provisional solution to the limitations of the cookie system. If you visit ReadWriteWeb, for example, our servers aren't allowed to check the cookies left on your browser by the social networks you use because they are tied to URL domains other than ours.

The first thing that is worth pointing out is that XAuth is not like Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect enables a website to associate a user’s Facebook identity, social graph and activity stream with the site. XAuth enables a website to discover which services an end user is a member of that support associating a user’s identity, social graph and/or activity stream with third party websites.

A practical example of this is the various sharing options at the bottom of this blog post (if you’re viewing it in the browser on your desktop PC)

This is a fixed list of options that where I had to write special Javascript code to handle each service. There are a few issues with this approach. The first is that people end up seeing exhortations to share on services they don’t use which is just visual noise in that case. Another is that, each of those widgets involves a Javascript call to the domain of the service which impacts page load times. In fact, I used to have a Reddit widget but took it out because their server was too slow and noticeably impacted rendering of my blog. Finally, I tend to keep the list small because I don’t want my blog posts to suffer from the NASCAR problem so some services that may be popular with my audience audience are left out (e.g. I have no widgets for sharing on Google Buzz, Slashdot or Digg).

How the XAuth specification attempts to solve this problem is fairly straightforward. Services that want to participate include some Javascript from http://xauth.org which writes some data to the local storage (not cookie) for that domain when the user visits the social network. At that point there is now an indication on the user’s machine that they are a member of the aforementioned social network. Then when the user visits a site such as my blog, I also include the same Javascript from but this time I ask it if the user is a member of the social networks I’m interested in. Once the list of sites is returned, I then only have to render sharing widgets from the sites I support which the user is a member of.

In general, I think XAuth is a legitimate attempt to solve a valid problem. However it should be made clear what problems XAuth doesn’t solve. For one, people like me who have an account on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Google, Windows Live, Reddit,  Delicious, etc will actually have a more cluttered experience than we do today. I know I’m always a little confused when I visit a site that uses Clickpass since I can never remember if I’ve associated that site with my Facebook, Windows Live, Yahoo! or Google account. Similarly XAuth will potentially exacerbate the problem for the subset of people who are members of lots of social media sites. Another thing to be made clear is that this isn’t a replacement for delegated authentication and authorization technologies like Facebook Connect, Twitter’s @Anywhere or OAuth WRAP. Sites will still need to support all of these technologies if they want to reach the widest audience. This is just about hiding options from users that do not matter to them.

The one thing I’d keep an eye on is that XAuth provides a token that uniquely identifies the user as part of the results returned to the requesting site instead of a simply stating the user is a member of a specified social media site. This enables the requesting site (e.g. my blog) to potentially make some API calls to the social network site for information specific to the user without asking for permission first. For example, pre-populating the user’s name and display picture in a comment box. Since Facebook has already announced such functionality I guess people don’t think it is overstepping the bounds of the user relationship to enable this feature on any website the user visits without the user explicitly granting the sites permission to their profile information. It will be interesting to see if implementations of this feature steer clear of some of the creepiness factor of Facebook’s Beacon program which led to massive outcry in its day.

Note Now Playing: Jamie Foxx - Winner (featuring Justin Timberlake & T.I.) Note


Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that accessing this blog has been flaky all weekend. I've gotten numerous reports via Twitter that my blog was displaying the following error message when being visited

Server Error in '/site1/weblog' Application.
Exception of type 'System.OutOfMemoryException' was thrown.
Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.
Exception Details: System.OutOfMemoryException: Exception of type 'System.OutOfMemoryException' was thrown.
Source Error:
An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.
Stack Trace:
[OutOfMemoryException: Exception of type 'System.OutOfMemoryException' was thrown.]
Go1999(RegexRunner ) +0
System.Text.RegularExpressions.CompiledRegexRunner.Go() +14
System.Text.RegularExpressions.RegexRunner.Scan(Regex regex, String text, Int32 textbeg, Int32 textend, Int32 textstart, Int32 prevlen, Boolean quick) +144
System.Text.RegularExpressions.Regex.Run(Boolean quick, Int32 prevlen, String input, Int32 beginning, Int32 length, Int32 startat) +134
System.Text.RegularExpressions.Regex.Match(String input) +44
newtelligence.DasBlog.Web.Core.UrlMapperModule.HandleBeginRequest(Object sender, EventArgs evargs) +458
System.Web.SyncEventExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute() +68
System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously) +75

This seems like a straightforward issue. The machine my blog is hosted on is running out of memory probably because the server is either overloaded from having too many sites hosted on it or one of the sites is badly written and is using up more than its fair share of memory. This has happened once or twice in the past and when it did I used the Live Chat feature of WebHost4Life, my hosting company, to contact a support rep who quickly moved my site to a different server. Thus when I got the first reports of this issue I thought this would be a routine support issue. I was sorely mistaken.

Earlier this year, WebHost4Life started migrating their customers to a new infrastructure with a different set of support staff. It seems this was a cost cutting measure because the new support staff seem to be a lot less technical than their previous counterparts and seem to have less access to their infrastructure. Over the weekend I chatted with about three or four different support folks over IM and opened a ticket that was closed multiple times. Here is a sampling of some of the messages that were written as part of closing the support ticket by WebHost4Life


Thank you for contacting Support.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. I have checked your website at the URL: http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/ and it is working fine. Could you please check it once again after clearing browser cache and cookies? If the issue persists, please get back to us with the exact error message, so that we will investigate on your issue.

Thank you!


Sharon <redacted>
Customer Support



Thank you for your reply.

I have checked your website URL: http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/ and I was able to duplicate the issue. I have received the error message. Hence, I have asked a member of our team who specializes in website management to review your issue. You should be hearing from this specialist within 24-48 hours. If you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know and be sure to refer to the link http://www.webhost4life.com/member/sconsole for the quickest service.

Thank you for choosing webhost4life, we appreciate your support.


Sharon <redacted>
Customer Support



I have checked the issue and and was not able to duplicate it. It seems to be issue with your ISP. Please check once again and if the issue still persists, please get back to us, tracert results of the website when you experience the issue and also the exact time and location so that we can investigate on it further.

If you have any further questions, please update the Support Console.


Aleta <redacted>
Technical Specialist



Thank you for getting back to us.

Currently, your website http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/ is loading without any slowness. I suggest you to check the website functionality again and get back to us, if the issue persists.

If you have any further questions, please update the Support Console.


Technical Specialist


I’m still getting reports that my blog is throwing out of memory exceptions infrequently and as you can see from the above there isn’t anything being done to fix this problem. At first I wondered if the poor support I was getting was because this happened on the weekend and perhaps the technical folks only work weekdays. Unfortunately my hopes were dashed when someone on Twitter pointed me to webhosting review site with dozens of complaints about WebHost4Life which echoed my experience. It seems the company is under new management and quality has suffered under some of their cost cutting moves.

Although I paid for a year’s worth of service, I’ve decided that I probably need to switch hosting companies. Thus I’m seeking recommendations for a web hosting company that supports ASP.NET and .NET 2.0 or higher from any of my readers. Also if anyone is familiar with the process of cancelling your service with a web host including getting refunded for services not provided, I’d love any experience or tips you have to share.


Categories: Rants

In a move that was telegraphed by Fred Wilson’s (Twitter investor) post titled The Twitter Platform's Inflection Point where he criticized Twitter platform developers for “filling holes” in Twitter’s user experience, the Twitter team have indicated they will start providing official Twitter clients for various mobile platforms. There have been announcements of an official Blackberry client and the purchase of Tweetie so it can become the official iPhone client. The latter was announced in the blog post Twitter for iPhone excerpted below

Careful analysis of the Twitter user experience in the iTunes AppStore revealed massive room for improvement. People are looking for an app from Twitter, and they're not finding one. So, they get confused and give up. It's important that we optimize for user benefit and create an awesome experience.

We're thrilled to announce that we've entered into an agreement with Atebits (aka Loren Brichter) to acquire Tweetie, a leading iPhone Twitter client.

This has led to some anger on the part of Twitter client developers with some of the more colorful reactions being the creation of the Twitter Destroyed My Market Segment T-shirt and a somewhat off-color image that is making the rounds as representative of what Twitter means by “filling holes”.

As an end user and someone who works on web platforms, none of this is really surprising. Geeks consider having to wade through half a dozen Twitter clients before finding one that works for them a feature even though paradox of choice means that most people are actually happier with less choices not more. This is made worse by the fact that in the mobile world, this may mean paying for multiple apps until you find one that you’re happy with.

Any web company that cares about their customers will want to ensure that their experience is as simple and as pleasant as possible. Trusting your primary mobile experience to the generosity and talents of 3rd party developers means you are not responsible for the primary way many people will access your service. This loss of control isn’t great especially when the design direction you want to take your service in may not line up with what developers are doing in their apps. Then there’s the fact that forcing your users to make purchasing decisions before they can use your site conveniently on their phone isn’t a great first time experience either. 

I expect mobile clients are just the beginning. There are lots of flaws in the Twitter user experience that are due to Twitter’s reliance on “hole fillers” that I expect they’ll start to fill. The fact that I ever have to go to http://bit.ly as part of my Twitter workflow is a bug. URL shorteners really have no reason to exist in the majority of use cases except when Twitter is sending an SMS message. Sites that exist simply as image hosting services for Twitter like Twitpic and YFrog also seem extremely superflous especially when you consider that since only power users know about them not every Twitter user is figuring out how to use the service for image sharing. I expect this will eventually become a native feature of Twitter as well. Once Twitter controls the primary mobile clients for accessing their service, it’ll actually be easier for them to make these changes since they don’t have to worry about whether 3rd party apps will support Twitter image hosting vs. Twitpic versus rolling their own ghetto solution.

The situation is made particularly tough for 3rd party developers due to Twitter’s lack of a business model as Chris Dixon points out in his post Twitter and third-party Twitter developers

Normally, when third parties try to predict whether their products will be subsumed by a platform, the question boils down to whether their products will be strategic to the platform. When the platform has an established business model, this analysis is fairly straightforward (for example, here is my strategic analysis of Google’s platform).  If you make games for the iPhone, you are pretty certain Apple will take their 30% cut and leave you alone. Similarly, if you are a content website relying on SEO and Google Adsense you can be pretty confident Google will leave you alone. Until Twitter has a successful business model, they can’t have a consistent strategy and third parties should expect erratic behavior and even complete and sudden shifts in strategy.

So what might Twitter’s business model eventually be?  I expect that Twitter search will monetize poorly because most searches on Twitter don’t have purchasing intent.  Twitter’s move into mobile clients and hints about a more engaging website suggest they may be trying to mimic Facebook’s display ad model.

The hard question then is what opportunities will be left for developers on Twitter’s platform once the low hanging fruit has been picked by the company. Here I agree with frequent comments by Dave Winer and Robert Scoble, that there needs to be more metadata attached to tweets so that different data aggregation and search scenarios can be built which satisfy thousands of niches. I especially like what Dave Winer wrote in his post How Twitter can kill the Twitter-killers where he stated

Suppose Twitter wants to make their offering much more competitive and at the same time much more attractive to developers. Sure, as Fred Wilson telegraphed, some developers are going to get rolled over, esp those who camped out on the natural evolutionary path of the platform vendor. But there are lots of things Twitter Corp can do to create more opportunities for developers, ones that expand the scope of the platform and make it possible for a thousand flowers to bloom, a thousand valuable non-trivial flowers. Permalink to this paragraph

The largest single thing Twitter could do is open tweet-level metadata. If I want to write an app for dogs who tweet, let me add a "field" to a tweet called isDog, a boolean, that tells me that the author of the tweet is a dog. That way the dog food company who has a Twitter presence can learn that the tweet is from a dog, from the guy who's developing a special Twitter client just for dogs, even though Twitter itself has no knowledge of the special needs of dogs. We can also add a field for breed and age (in dog years of course). Coat type. Toy preference. A link to his or her owner. Are there children in the household?

I probably wouldn’t have used the tweeting dog example but the idea is sound. Location is an example of metadata that is added to tweets which can be used for interesting applications on top of the core news feed experience as shown by Twittervision and Bing's Twitter Maps. I think there’s an opportunity to build interesting things in this space especially if developers can invent new types of metadata without relying on Twitter to first bless new fields like they’ve had to do with location (although their current implementation is still inadequate in my opinion).

Over the next few months, Twitter will likely continue to encroach on territory which was once assumed to belong to 3rd party developers. The question is whether Twitter will replace these opportunities they’ve taken away with new opportunities or instead if they’ve simply used developers as a means to an end and now they are no longer useful?

Note Now Playing: Notorious B.I.G. - One More Chance Note