Monthly Archives: January 2013

Where to archive your tweets

It’s great to see more people get access to their full archive of tweets from Twitter. In addition to just having a copy of your own tweets, it can be useful to go back and browse them by date, or search for something specific. I’d suggest putting the HTML version online as-is (mine’s here), and also checking out other apps that add a variety of different features on top of the basic archive.

Both of my apps — Tweet Library for iOS and Watermark for the web — can now import the .zip file you receive from Twitter. This file contains your full archive of tweets and retweets. Both apps can load the file directly from Dropbox, making it as simple as possible to get the tweets imported. And both apps are smart about only importing tweets that haven’t been stored yet, so you don’t have to worry about duplicates.

To import into Tweet Library, first download the archive from your settings page on Inside Tweet Library click on the blue arrow icon next to “Archives” and walk through the steps to authorize your account with Dropbox. Then copy the .zip file from Twitter to Dropbox → Apps → Tweet Library. It will show up in Tweet Library and can be selected.

Tweet Library import flow

Tweet Library is good if you want easy access to your tweets on the iPhone or iPad. You can search your tweets, create filters for them, and add tweets to special collections to share with others. It also doubles as a full Twitter client, with a timeline, posting, Instapaper support, and plenty more. Check it out in the iOS App Store.

To import into Watermark, also download the archive from Twitter and put it on Dropbox. You can put it anywhere, either in Apps → Watermark if you’ve already authorized Watermark to use Dropbox (for export), or in Documents or anywhere else. Then sign in to Watermark and click Account → “Upload all your tweets” to select the file.

Watermark is good if you want to expand your archive beyond just your own tweets. It indexes tweets from everyone you are following, creating a huge searchable archive over time. My own account in Watermark now has about 400,000 tweets indexed. Sign up or learn more at

What makes special

Phillip Gruneich has an interesting post about what’s different about ADN, with thoughts on the global feed and link posting:

“ is a different environment and it must be preserved that way. If you get into it and decide to behave like it is a Twitter alternative, then the differences will fade away and we’ll lose a precious experience.”

There are some ideas in here that surprised me. For example, I’m not sure I agree that everyone reads the global feed, nor that people should be discouraged from linking to anything but their own work. I love to post links to products from friends and companies that are doing interesting things.

Even if it isn’t as busy as on Twitter — Twitter disabled their global feed years ago when it started moving too fast to be read — it would still be difficult to do anything more than occasionally skim the global feed on ADN.

He does hit on something important, though. Because it’s a paid service, and there’s a cost to additional accounts, most of the users are actual people. There are fewer companies and parody accounts. (But I did end up getting @riverfold on ADN, which I felt was a nice compromise when compared against my 4-5 app accounts on Twitter.)

So I might not use ADN in exactly the same way that Phillip does, but the hope that ADN remains unique is the same because it’s something nearly everyone on ADN probably hopes for. And that’s the really good news: if what makes ADN special is the people, then it’s because all of the people have something in common. They didn’t chose ADN by accident, or because it was the default choice. They chose it because they wanted something better.

In the short 5 months since I wrote about ADN’s start, I’ve become a big fan of the founders, the quality of the API and developer program, and the general tone of ADN users. There might not be a single best way to use ADN, and that will become even more true over time as the scope of the API grows. But there’s no question that it is a special service that deserves to be a peer with Twitter and Facebook in terms of new apps and conversations, even as it exists in a different world where huge “1 billion user” scale doesn’t matter.

Tweet Library 2.2

I posted a couple months ago about my experiment to cut the price of Tweet Library in half. I’ve decided to make this decision permanent. Tweet Library is just $4.99 as a universal app for both iPhone and iPad.

Today I’m also releasing Tweet Library 2.2. This version gains a few improvements and bug fixes, but most importantly a big new feature: support for importing Twitter’s new archive format. It does this by downloading the .zip file you receive from Twitter directly via Dropbox, to make it easy to import your full archive of tweets. (Watermark has this feature too.)

Not everyone has access to exporting their tweets from Twitter yet, but I wanted to get this feature out as soon as possible. And I already have a version 2.2.1 submitted to Apple with more improvements to the import process.

See the web site for more about Tweet Library, or get it at the App Store here.

Aaron Swartz

I met Aaron briefly at SXSW, maybe 8 or 9 years ago, when the conference was still so small you could run into everyone. He wouldn’t remember me, but I followed his work and linked to him a couple times here. He was so young and already doing great things.

Lawrence Lessig:

“He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think?”

Brent Simmons:

“He’d gone on to do cool things — and make some mistakes, and get in trouble for them. But I knew he was extraordinary, and I expected him to grow up to become an American hero.”

Cory Doctorow:

“Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues. I think he could have revolutionized American (and worldwide) politics. His legacy may still yet do so.”

Daniel Jalkut:

“After witnessing a small extent of the struggles Aaron fought, I choose to commemorate him with gratitude for the many bad weeks when he resisted drastic action, and gave us all more time to appreciate and share his contributions.”


“You’ve honored Aaron Swartz by acknowledging what he did before he died. Now honor him by doing what he might have done.”

Such a loss. For more links, I started a collection of tweets when my timeline woke up to the news of Aaron’s death.

Business vs. user experience

Some companies seem willing to do anything for a profit. The worst domain name registrars and their pages filled with up-sells. News blogs that spread articles across several sections to increase page views. We see examples all the time of blatant attempts to increase sales just a little at the expense of usability.

But the reverse can also be a mistake. For example, my own Tweet Marker. I wanted the setup user experience to be so effortless that the user merely needs to flip a switch to enable it in their favorite apps, or do nothing for the apps that choose to use Tweet Marker by default. There’s no formal registration, no prompt for an email address.

Now I find myself with 500,000 total users who have tried Tweet Marker, but no way to follow up with them to see if they are interested in upgrading to the $1/month subscriber plan. The service is, frankly, a financial failure. More like a charity experiment than a business.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and introducing the subscriber plan was the latest part of a renewed effort with Tweet Marker. I’m determined to make it work, even if it’s too late to shift the balance between business needs and user experience to something that makes more sense.

Three months without Twitter

Over three months ago I stopped using Twitter. I wanted to make a statement — perhaps in an overly-dramatic way — that the developer-hostile environment that Twitter had evolved into wasn’t something I could support anymore. I do still read plenty of tweets while testing Watermark, and I’m almost done with a new version of Tweet Library, because my customers deserve great Twitter features. But I haven’t tweeted, retweeted, or favorited a thing from my personal account since October 5th.

I knew that sometimes it would be difficult to resist going back to Twitter, replying to a question, or cross-posting my posts from So I set things up to discourage my future self from even considering more tweeting. I picked the 1-year anniversary of the day Steve Jobs died and wrote my final tweets a week in advance. If someone visits my profile, I want those statements to be what they see. I can’t tweet again without pushing those tweets from the top of the list.

Meanwhile, started taking off. Netbot shipped. The developer incentive program started to directly reward developers. There’s a good community there. It’s smaller than on Twitter; there isn’t the same never-ending stream of tweets flowing into your timeline. But maybe that’s a good thing.

The flip side is that it’s hard to let go of things like Twitter that have value. I had similar self-doubt when I killed off my app Wii Transfer, so that I could focus on bigger ideas. But simplifying has allowed me to do some of the best work of my career in 2012. I’ve put everything I have into Watermark, into the new Tweet Marker subscriptions, into doing Core Intuition weekly, into shipping everything I work on. 2013 is going to be awesome, and I’m not looking back.