On connecting tweets and buzzes and facebook and other social media

Yesterday I saw an interesting tweet ("Quick question: How is resilience distinct from sustainability? #green #transition #climate") and made a response ("@appropedia sustainable=long term while resilience=adaptable to change, the focus is different and not necessarily have same result?") and then he replied to my reply ("@7genblogger Thanks - good summary."). That happens all day long among tweeters. It's a dang shame that Twitter doesn't create a thread between the tweet and reply so that we can follow the conversation. But the interconnection of multiple social networks is making this worse.

That twiterer has a Google Profile and has connected his tweet stream such that the tweet also appeared as a buzz. I also have my tweets being reposted as buzzings but my tweet hasn't showed up yet in buzz. To make this more complicated the tweet in question actually originated on laconi.ca and was posted to twitter. And to make this even more complicated tweets can also be reposted into facebook, friend feed, cliqset, tumblr, and many more sites. Lots of sites offer features to interconnect activity streams posted on other sites.

The problem is connecting up the bits of the conversation. It's bad enough that twitter doesn't connect the original tweet with reply. So far as twitter is concerned, it presents each tweet as its own thing without relationship to other tweets. A viewer looking at my tweets might be confused what I'm talking about. But it would make more sense if there was a "in-reply-to" link so they could see the earlier tweet. And to make this more complicated when the tweets show up on other services.

When the tweet shows up on buzz the '@' tag doesn't get connected back to the twitter account (e.g. OEM speak for "long in the tooth." RT @AutoWorldUSA: Trio Of Volkswagen Special Editions Hit U.S. Dealerships - http://bit.ly/bJkS6l). When my tweet above appears in buzz it's going to start with '@appropedia' but on buzz his google profile name is 'singkong'. How will someone viewing a twitter-originated buzz be able to connect to the twitter profile? And is it better to connect them with the twitter profile or to connect them with the related google profile?

And, Buzz has a great user interface for managing conversations. Unlike twitter where each tweet is its own thing unconnected to other tweets, a buzz is a conversation (e.g. Official gspn.tv Community Buzz). When the tweets land in buzz it would be great if a tweet that's a reply to another tweet gets attached to the related buzz. Using the example above I would be very happy if this happens when my tweet lands in buzzland:

  1. My reply appears attached to his buzz
  2. A buzz appears on my page linking to his buzz (similar to how Facebook posts something saying "so-and-so commented on such-and-such")

I think twitter.com could make one interesting change to enable this. I used the phrase "in-reply-to" above. This exact phrase is used in e-mail as evidenced by this header line pulled from a randomly chosen email:

In-Reply-To: <3f114ed71002161531q1ef09909x926ead1781df7a3e [at] mail [dot] gmail [dot] com>

The purpose for the In-Reply-To header is to enable connecting emails together in discussion threads. The text following In-Reply-To is a unique identifier for each email

Message-ID: <3f114ed71002161531q1ef09909x926ead1781df7a3e [at] mail [dot] gmail [dot] com>

Email user agents are able to construct an email conversation thread by connecting these together.

Tweets have their own unique identifier. Go to twitter.com, look at someones activity stream, and hover your mouse over the posting date of the tweet. You'll see there's a URL and clicking on the that link takes you to the page for the tweet. That URL is the unique identifier for each tweet. It would then be simple enough for twitter.com to present a second link on each tweet something like this "in reply to @appropedia". That would be the twitter equivalent to In-Reply-To, and the In-Reply-To link should also appear in the Twitter API. By doing this other services could then connect up tweets by using the In-Reply-To link.