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YBQuiet – What if instead of following a person on Twitter, you could follow an idea?

Last year, I taught myself how to code in Python and Django by working on a fun app: YBQuiet.com – Follow an Idea. I’m thinking of taking it up again (now that I have a little time), and would love to

  • Hear your opinions about its functionality/ potential uses/ potential/ problems
  • Meet people who share my vision for the project and have an interest in working on it with me.

Quick intro to YBQuiet:

The idea is simple (check it out!) – Twitter allows you to follow a person. What if, instead, you could follow an idea (i.e. tag, or system of nested tags)?

Twitter is a great way to find out the latest updates on anything. But its also very painful to search for relevant tweets on twitter.

Problem with Twitter: Imagine the 9/11 attacks have just happened and people are tweeting about it. If you had a relative in one of the Towers, your ability to get the latest info would be lost in a deluge of related tweets about the event. The information you were looking for may well be in some random tweet somewhere, but you’d have to read through a huge number of tweets, or hope that someone had used hashtags for precisely what you were looking for, and that you would be able to search for the right hashtag, or that Twitter would somehow magically guess what you were looking for.

Inspiration: The basic issue is that Twitter is designed to follow a person or an organization’s updates. That got me thinking… what if I could subscribe to a certain tag, no matter who’s tweets were included in that tag, rather than following a person that may only occasionally tweet about what I care about? Or people that have a single tweet about something relevant to me, how would I find them?

Concept: That’s when I thought it would be pretty cool to have an app for Twitter that allowed the user to store nested tags in a tweet, so that anybody could follow the tags instead. And to make it easy for the tweeter, by replying to a tagged thread, their tweets would automatically inherit the tags. The next step was… create a prototype! So I taught myself Python and Django and did exactly that.

YBQuiet in action (alpha prototype)

Example: For example, if I used YBQuiet to tweet
Chinese economy on the edge of credit-fuled cash-crunch and deflationary trend according to Mish

a field on YBQuiet allows me to add the following string as a parameter (tags created on the fly):
 Economy/ China/ Deflation

YBQuiet (optionally) transmits the tweet on my behalf to my Twitter feed, but on YBQuiet itself the tags turn into a hierarchical topic tree that looks like this:

  • Clicking on any of these tags shows all tweets in the same tag category/ sub-category.
  • For example, if you go to
    http://ybquiet.com/tags/Economy/China/
    you can see tweets that pertain to the topic, including tweets that pertain to subtopics within (e.g. Economy/ China/ Deflation).
  • If I’m logged in, I can ‘reply’ in any of these threads, and my reply tweet will inherit the parent tag tree structure.
  • A immediate future goal would be to make all of these links an RSS feed (easy through Django) that anybody could subscribe to, closing the loop for potential readers.

Use Case: In the 9/11 Attacks example above, I can imagine a wealth of tags like:

  • 9-11/
  • 9-11/Flight 93/
  • 9-11/Flight 93/passengers
  • 9-11/Pentagon
  • 9-11/Red Cross
  • 9-11/WTC/
  • 9-11/WTC/North Tower
  • 9-11/WTC/South Tower
  • 9-11/WTC/victims
  • 9-11/WTC/rescue

etc. Anybody could follow and post in any of these hierarchies, and the process of each individual user replying to tweets in his own particular tree would instantly create a tremendously sophisticated sorting of Twitter’s drinking-from-a-fire-hose feed. Anybody could add tags in any thread, creating an intelligent, dynamic and real-time sorting to improve information access/ comprehension by an order of magnitude.

My Goal Here: Yes, as you can tell, I am pretty excited about my idea. I’m at a point where I’m considering taking it back up (after having taken a one-year break to stabilize my other businesses in this economic downturn), and figured putting it out there for suggestions, feedback, criticism and potential collaborators was probably a good idea. So I’m posting it to Hacker News, and lets see what happens.

About me (and what value I can add, if you want to work with me on this):

I am not the best coder on the planet, but I’m a decent (and self-made) businessman, can raise money fast, and have a good attitude – if you’re reading Hacker News, you may have come across an essay I wrote recently (You are not running out of time).

I do have a Computer Science degree from the University of Rochester (2002), and graduated near the top of my class. Most importantly, I like this stuff, am easy-going, work hard, and pretty straightforward. Feel free to contact me by leaving a comment or shooting me an email if you have any interest in or comments about this project.

Note: Posting this on Hacker News is definitely one of the wackier things I’ve done. Very different from being a commercial real estate investment advisor (my day job).

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