I chose to review the Twitter Application “AlertThingy”. AlertThingy’s creator’s, Howard Baines Ltd., list the goal of their application as, “[an application] that brings the very latest updates from your favourite social networks direct to your desktops. Send Tweets, update your Facebook status, and upload photos to Flickr, post to Tumblr and more.”
When reviewing all that AlertThingy has to offer, one concludes that it is a software application that sends updates from many different social networks, including business social networks like Yammer and Huddle. It also offers updates from dozens of news feeds and news blogging sites using a RSS reader. In addition, users have the opportunity to upload pictures and use service websites like Twitter Search, TinyURL, and TwitPic. It even offers a service where one can search for a product on Amazon, and if Amazon doesn’t offer the product, AlertThingy will send an “alert” to your desktop when the product becomes available.
Twitter interacts with this application by sending updates that come from your Twitter page to the application in real time, without having to be refreshed, unlike the Twitter web page. It also allows ease of use because users who typically use Twitter quite often use the other networks and services offered by AlertThingy; AlertThingy gives access to these networks and services all on one application. All users have to do is sign up for the applications they use; AlertThingy will deliver updates to users’ desktops in real time.
Instead of searching for information, AlertThingy allows users to pick their information sources and have it delivered to their desktop. While it is much easier for users of various social networking sites, I don’t see any practical usage for applications such as this for all aspects of the Internet. There is a point, click, and search aspects to the Internet that user’s expect and wish to have at their disposal. It is easy to feel like there are new social networking sites popping up everywhere, and to feel overwhelmed at keeping up with all of them. As previously stated, this is where AlertThingy works well for its users. Instead of logging on to each social networking site separately, users’ may sign up for whatever networks they use after downloading the application. Then, all they have to do is log in to AlertThingy from their desktop.
One drawback of AlertThingy is that it makes users reactive to information instead of proactive. Instead of individuals using the service to find information relevant to them, it brings information to them. The source of information may have been useful to them in the past, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will be useful to users’ in the future.
Another drawback of AlertThingy is that unlike access to broad mass mediums such as the Internet, the application offers only a limited amount of resources of information.
As one can see, it offers only a few mainstream sources of information, like CNN, BBC, and ESPN. There are users out there who feel that those sources of news don’t fit with their preferred taste. Some users may prefer Fox News to CNN, and Comcast Sports Net over ESPN.
There are many other Twitter applications, but I would say AlertThingy falls into the category of general usage filtering type applications. Other applications allow you to alter tweets, use to market businesses, conduct alternate searches using twitter search, send future tweets, etc. AlertThingy seems to be the most applicable to individuals who are frequent users of most popular social networking sites. The typical audience of social networking sites is young adults, aged 18-30.
I recommend that AlertThingy offer more news feeds and access to more social networking sites. Currently, their application does not offer service to social networking sites such as Myspace and new feeds like Fox News. I would also ensure that they don’t market the application toward users as an alternative to searching the Internet to seek the information they wish to find. As I stated above, users of the Internet expect a point, click and search capability to find the data they seek. In addition, it would limit the sources of information for users, so the likelihood of the application becoming an alternative to how individuals’ use the Internet is small.