Monday, October 22, 2012

Thanks a Bunch, Twitter!

At the INFORMS 2012 panel session on social media, I suggested that people interested in dipping a toe into the waters use Google Reader to watch RSS feeds of various things, including Twitter timelines. Ironically, a few days before the session (October 11 by my estimation), Twitter made API changes that broke existing RSS feeds. The feeds I was watching in Google Reader all stopped updating at the same time (last visible entries dated October 10).

Twitter unveiled their new API in September and, among other things, dropped support for RSS. RSS feeds are still available on an interim basis, but apparently they'll be gone for good as of March 5, 2013. Hopefully Google will come up with a workaround for Google Reader by then.

In the meantime, if you want to read tweets in Google Reader, you need to reload your Twitter RSS feeds. After a lengthy web search, I found a tip on this thread that, combined with something I picked up on another site (which one I no longer remember), seems to work.

I'm assuming you already have a Google account and use Google Reader. Open a new browser tab and paste the following verbatim in the URL bar:

http://www.google.com/reader/view/feed/http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss%3Fscreen_name%3D

Don't hit Enter yet; we're not quite done. Append the screen name of the Twitter account you want to follow in Reader. For instance, to follow me (and, trust me, I do not recommend this), add parubin after %3D. Now hit Enter. If you're lucky, you'll be told that you Reader found the feed and be given an opportunity to subscribe to it.

Here's where it gets tricky. The screen name is case-sensitive; but sometimes the correct case does not work, and you have to experiment with intentional errors. (No, I'm not making that up.) I just tried to subscribe to my own feed (against my own advice above) using

http://www.google.com/reader/view/feed/http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss%3Fscreen_name%3Dparubin

and was told my feed does not exist (news to me!). So I repeated it with

http://www.google.com/reader/view/feed/http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss%3Fscreen_name%3DParubin

(note the incorrect capitalization of the "P") and was rewarded with the option to subscribe. In another case, I tried to repair my subscription to the feed for @ThisIsTrue. Note the camel case. Appending ThisIsTrue after %3D failed, but appending ThisisTrue (incorrect lower case on the second "i") succeeded. I'm skipping over a few unsuccessful attempts. Finding the correct single letter to muff is a trial-and-error process, happily not needed in all cases, sadly needed occasionally.


4 comments:

  1. I remember you shaking your head behind Laura's back during the session, when she mentioned RSS was currently broken as a side remark... :-)

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  2. Maybe I was agreeing with her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_bobble.

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  3. When no means yes, then things gets complicated, sounds like a female thing..

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    Replies
    1. Actually, I think it was invented by politicians, probably during a campaign year.

      Delete

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