As promised, I had the opportunity to interview Kerrington Smith, TheTwittbook founder and visionary. I am quite sure we are all familiar with Twitter by now, however Kerrington hopes to change the value of tweeting by incorporating TheTwittbook into our lives. TheTwittbook is essentially a platform, currently built on top of Twitter, that allows its users to submit reviews for different categories i.e. movies, television, books, etc. The reviews can be voted on by other users, with the best reviews featured prominently throughout the “hall of fame” and most popular sections.
I have to admit, as someone that loves writing, it is definitely fun and challenging to fit a movie review or recipe into 140 characters. Thus far, I have reviewed 6 movies, 1 book, and added 1 recipe. It is very refreshing to have some of my followers offer up feedback after I submit my reviews to TheTwittbook and it posts to Twitter via the “API.” TheTwittbook certainly provides more of a reason to provide an opinion on a the categories the service provides. Kerrington Smith, provided quite a bit of information in the question-filled interview I submitted to him — check it out:
Q: Why did you decide to create The Twittbook?
It’s a funny story actually. I stumbled upon a Twitter user, Maureen Evans @cookbook, who has almost 20,000 followers and all she posts is recipes. Initially, I wanted thetwittbook solely to be a digital cookbook open-sourced to the world. But, I realized that I could take that idea of shorthand (140 characters) and apply it to different areas or topics.
Q: Who is all involved in the creation of The Twittbook?
thetwittbook was created by a developer named Sean Noble (great guy and very smart, @leprakhauns on Twitter) and myself.
Q: What are you goals with The Twittbook?
I have a few. The first is, simply, to build the first information network of the internet age. The information network is the parent, and everything else falls under it as its children (blogs, social networks, etc). Since I own thetwittbook, it will be the first affiliate of such a network. I’ll have more details on that at a later time.
Like I mentioned, I first envisioned thetwittbook as a digitial cookbook (my old motto: “Drop the cookbook and get on thetwittbook”). One of my dreams is to see those who cook, have a recipe on thetwittbook opened up next to them as they are cooking, instead of a traditional cookbook. It would be satisfying to see that. That brings me to the final goal.
I’ve felt for a long time that we, as a society, really need to make the switch to digital, over print. Going back to the movie example, I believe that folks nowadays just flat out don’t have time to read a two page column in a newspaper to discern if a movie is good or not. By providing this digital information, I’m hoping to help make the switch to digital that much more appealing.
Q: How do you feel The Twittbook will benefit users?
I think the web, inherently, brings with it high noise levels. The goal behind thetwittbook is to help erase that noise level, and provide relevant, on-the-go information to groups and individuals. One of the first questions that always pops up when a group of friends are together is, “What are we going to do today?” Should they see a movie? Is the movie good? How do they find out if that movie is good? This is where I vision thetwittbook coming in to play. Folks can simply visit our site, and search for that movie to see how well its being reviewed.
My hope is that users will understand the service. Though, the most important theme of that question, is that users will take something and make it their own. Twitter’s RT’s weren’t a native feature at the start. Users simply started using it, and then Twitter adopted it. So in that regard, I’m excited to see different interpretations and how thetwittbook evolves over time.
Q: How long did it take to create the Twittbook up to this point?
I’d say about a month. We started in March and had everything pretty much done by the end of April.
Q: How difficult was it to build?
Development and coding in general is an extremely meticulous craft, and also time-consuming. Luckily, the site is relatively simple in scope, and it wasn’t as difficult as other larger projects.
Q: How has it been to work with Twitter’s API?
Sean Noble has been great working with the API. It’s hard to tell with him if it’s been truly hard or not. He just pretty much learned it (really quickly), and we went from there.
Q: Are there plans for a mobile application?
Definitely. Mobile is hot right now. I think this application will shine with the turn of a downloadable mobile app.
Q: Do you think the Twittbook is “filling a hole” in Twitter?
I really enjoyed when this idea was debated over at TechCrunch because it gave me time to evaluate my own service. I don’t believe that thetwittbook is filling a hole in Twitter’s platform. At it’s core, thetwittbook is a reviewing service. The functionality that it brings is not what Twitter is trying to be. I want to provide and serve very relevant, very specific, very niche information to consumers. I feel that thetwittbook is it’s own hybrid, spawned out of a Twitter/Digg love-child.
Q: How big do you plan on the service becoming?
I want it to be as big or bigger than Facebook. I believe thetwittbook can achieve that solely because a part of its core is very closely aligned with that of an information network. Information is plentiful on the web, but specific, niche information is tough to find – thetwittbook serves information.
Q: Will the name of service change in the future?
We’ll have to see.
Q: Is Twitter an absolute necessity to submit a TwittBook Review? Also will Facebook users be able to sync their accounts to thetwittbook?
No it is not, anyone can sign up, create an account and begin reviewing. At this point in time, I’m 110% committed to enriching Twitter’s platform; you may not necessarily need a Twitter account, but the opt-in function (entering Twitter Credentials in your settings page) is there if users wish to use it. We may or may not look at other options (ala Facebook) down the road.
Q: Will there be more categories to review?
Oh yes. There are some surprises coming soon with regards to that.
Q: How does voting work?
Every review posted on thetwittbook can be upvoted. The most popular reviews will have a spot on our front page, and at the end of every week, the most upvoted reviews are placed into thetwittbook hall to live on forever (ala hall of fame).
Q: Will there be more information in the stats section such as number of submissions, total number of votes, most voted submission, top 10 lists,
We’re continuing to explore how we can add additional value to a stats section. I think people will want to know how their reviews are doing. That could also bring about some type of form of “analytics” … lots of interesting directions to take with that.
Q: How long will the Public Beta be open?
I want to have a healthy body of feedback to look through before officially launching the service. I haven’t decided on a definitive time-table as of yet.
Q: Can you explain the Hall?
thetwittbook Hall is where the most upvoted reviews are placed, to be viewed forever in hall of fame fashion. I wanted to also make it feel as though users could look through the Hall, over time, to see what was trending throughout the world week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year.
Q: Recipes is an interesting thing to review. How will users learn Twittbook Recipe shorthand?
I think that it’s another one of those things that users will make their own. The woman behind my inspiration, Maureen Evans @cookbook, uses shorthand in a very unique way to make her recipes adhere to the 140 character limit.
Q: Can users submit words to the glossary? If not, is there a plan for that function implementation?
The glossary feature is something I’m continuing to debate about. I think it’s implications are clear, but it’s actual use is not. One thing we’ll have to look at is, with the emergence of shorthand, how many folks browsing the site will understand what they’re reading? What will be the rate of abandonment specifically because of this? Thankfully, this is why being in beta helps to answer those questions in time.
Thank you very much for providing the first, exclusive interview about TheTwittbook. Hopefully there are many more to come. Any last words or remarks.
Feedback and critique is extremely important to me. I love to hear what people think about the service. Ultimately, I just want to provide an application that has meaning to people all around the world.
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to shed some light on what thetwittbook is all about.
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