Twitter was super smart when they created their API and encouraged developers all over the world to come on in, use their API and develop their own applications using Twitter data. But wait, what’s an API, you say?
API stands for Application Program Interface. Wikipedia defines an API as “an interface that a software programs implements in order to allow other software to interact with it.” In the Web world, APIs allow systems to talk to each other, request each other’s data, write to each other’s systems, etc., within a defined structure. In Twitter’s case, the Twitter API allows software developers to request information from Twitter, especially the tweets by Twitter subscribers. The API allows requests by date range, keyword, usernames, etc.
Why on earth would anyone want to build a program using Twitter data? It turns out that Twitter data can be amazingly interesting once it’s sliced and diced in different ways. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of applications that take Twitter streams and do “stuff” with them: sort them, visualize them, analyze them, count them. Here are some of my very favorite Twitter applications. Note that I specifically don’t list applications that help you manage your tweets, replies, direct messages, etc.
- Twisst gets location information from the profiles of its followers, then tweets @ specific persons when the international space station will be in their vicinity
- TwitterCounter lets you get statistics on specific users, including Twitter rank, number of followers, etc.
- Twistori is a real-time visualization of tweets across the entire Twitter universe that mention love, hate, think, believe, feel, wish
- Twitter search lets you conduct real-times searches for keywords and phrases in everyone’s tweets
- TwitterReach lets you see how far your tweets have traveled by typing a specific keyword, phrase or hash tag; you’ll even get the total number of people your message might have reached, based on the followers of the tweeters
- TweetStats lets you enter a Twitter username to see that person’s Twitter stats, including tweets by month, day of week and time; who they most reply to and who they most retweet
- WeFollow is a user-powered directory of Twitter users, tagged by categories
- OneHourTranslation has built a business around translating tweets and sending them back to you in the language of your choice
- HappyTweets lets you enter a Twitter username and get that person’s happiness score; mine is 560 — ridiculously happy
- Twitoaster is a great way to see the threads in your Twitter conversations
- Trendistic is a great way to keep up with trends on Twitter, including trending topics
Can’t get enough of these Twitter applications? Oneforty.com claims to be the best way to find Twitter applications. TechCrunch has its list of the top 21 Twitter applications. Finally, Twitdom is a database of Twitter applications.
How about you? What are your favorite Twitter applications? What’s the coolest or prettiest thing you’ve seen that uses the Twitter API?