Twitter and Identica Dilemma

Since July, I’ve been trying out Twitter and its open-source competitor Both are microblogging sites, with Twitter being the largest and most well-established of them.

Both let you follow people with their 140-character updates via the web, or with alerts on your phone.

My dilemma involves how to make this work for me.

For some people, I’d like to get an alert as soon as they post an update. For others, maybe get a non-intrusive alert a couple of times a day. I want to get these notices on my computers, whichever one I’m using.

In theory, Twitter lets you follow updates on IM with Jabber. But their Jabber gateway has been down for literally a month now, and though they still have a note saying it will be back RSN, there’s little hope. has a working Jabber gateway. But unlike Twitter, you can only specify if you want notices from everyone, or nobody; with Twitter, you can sign up for IM notices from just a few people. I already have a Jabber client on all my machines.

So here are my options:

First, I could just use the Twitter and Identica web interfaces only. Not really all that appealing; I don’t want to have to go load up a webpage a few times a day. Also it is annoying to have to open a web browser, pull up a web page, just to enter 60 characters of status.

Second, I could use Twitterfox and Identifox firefox plugins. They look nice, but add yet more bloat to Firefox — and that’s two more plugins per machine to set up and maintain, not to mention that one machine is not aware of what I’ve already seen elsewhere. They do make it easier to post updates.

Third, I could use RSS feeds for reading in bloglines. Not all that realtime though.

Fourth, I could set up two Identica accounts, one which sends all notices to my IM and one which doesn’t. It’d be annoying, and still doesn’t solve my problem with Twitter at all.

Fifth, I could install some Twitter-watching app on all my machines. That’s annoying as it’s yet another piece of software to maintain everywhere, and yet another one to keep updated, AND if that wasn’t annoying enough, they still don’t know what I’ve seen everywhere.

How are all of you using Twitter or Identica?

Also, I’m curious how all these companies that use Twitter and instantly find out when anyone mentions Dell or JetBlue are able to do that. I don’t see a “search everyone’s tweets” feature anywhere.

12 thoughts on “Twitter and Identica Dilemma

  1. Not sure if it’s a GReader issue or a Twitter one, but I subscribe to a few Twitter RSS feeds and they go several days between updates… four to seven, so far.

    Though, given Twitters failwhale record, I’m going to bet the problem is Twitter.

  2. foo says:

    I use IRC instead.

    Seriously though, identica is based on free software, I’m sure they would be happy to accept a patch to laconica for this.

  3. Jeff says:

    On the search everyone’s tweets front I can provide a little bit of light. You can search tweets at

    One cool point is that the search comes back with a News feed, like this one
    So you can subscribe to the news feed and get the latest tweets about whatever you would like to search for.

    As for’s all or nothing IM updates. Man, do I hear you. Some people you really WANT to hear from. Others… well… just keeping up with them occasionally would be fine. Being able to get a instant updates from a few people (but not everyone) would be really nice!

  4. Warbo says:

    It should be entirely possible to subscribe each person to a different Jabber resource (although may require a patch). A resource is part of a Jabber ID, and necessary for logging on multiple times at once. For example, I have an account on’s server with the username warbo, ie. However, I have Empathy (my main client) logging in as, with others like Kopete set up to log in as etc. The resource with the highest priority receives messages sent to whilst each resource receives any messages sent specifically to it.

    Resources are completely arbitrary, you could tell Identica to send Dave’s updates to and Bob’s updates to That way you can get constant updates from Bob by having a chat program logged in as, and only receive updates from Dave every 2 hours by having a program log in as every 2 hours (could be done from cron). You can have as many resources logged in at the same time as you like (limited by which server you are using), although the user interface in many chat applications not designed for this could get cluttered.

    Having your normal chat program logged in to your account via a high priority resource will prevent those identica listening programs from receiving your regular messages (those sent to simply

    I’ve not used Identica myself, but I’ve done quite a bit of programming based on Jabber. Hope that made sense :)

  5. Luca Bruno says:

    You might want to try to update both at once.

  6. Penny Leach says:

    I think you want track, it’s documented in the official twitter command list:

    About jabber.. it used to work. I miss it.

    You might try if you’re not already aware of it.

  7. I use twerp ( with a combination of cron, grep, and watch.

    Except for the problem of synchronizing multiple machines, it sounds like doing twerp | grep from something biff-like might be what you want. (I haven’t done this yet, but I’m considering it.) It just spits out plain text, so, whatever you have the patience to duct tape together, I guess.

    I do all this from one machine that I am pretty much perpetually logged into. The last-check date of a timeline is just saved in a dotfile, so unless you did something about that, you’d see the same updates on each machine. Not sure if you have a way around that.

    (In the long term, I want to do something like Warbo said. But in the meantime patches to support the Laconica API would be very welcome.)

  8. I’ve lately been thinking about Twitter. I wanted some way to quickly post tweets from the command line. But I also wanted to be able to receive them in a non-intrusive way on all my machines. And I wanted to work with Twitter and both. No

  9. You /can/ specify that you only want notices from certain people over any particular channel (IM, SMS) in! See your “subscriptions” page. Each subscription has a checkbox to show which channel you want to receive notices on for that person.

  10. Sean Carmody says:

    @Evan: Is there anyway to do a bulk change of the Jabber status for existing subscriptions?

    1. No, there isn’t. Good idea, though!

  11. pROCKrammer says:

    IMHO, is more suitable for Programmers and Advanced users …

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