I Invented Twitter

Well kind of…in a way…possibly…OK, not at all.

The other day I was digging through some old articles that I wrote. To my amusement, I saw a reference to a little program I hacked up once when I was involved as a KDE developer. I had totally forgotten about it, and I figured it would be fun to share the story.

Back in the year 2000 when I was starting University, I spent every evening between midnight and 6am hacking on code. Fuelled by six cans of coke every night, I barely slept for those few years: I was running on three or four hours of sleep for most nights. Every evening I was excited to fire up my concrete brick of a laptop, check out the latest KDE CVS and taste the latest crack of the day. This inspired me to want to contribute to the project in some way.

It was a bit of a trial by fire. I was not only learning C++ but also Qt and the KDE bindings. To be frank, I was not very good. But I tried hard, I learned a lot, and mostly importantly, I had a lot of fun.

Throughout this time I wrote a bunch of little programs. One of these programs was called KWebStat, and this what I re-read about the other day. Using the wonder of the Wayback Machine I managed to find the old homepage for it which included a screenshot:

See a bigger screenshot

When I read the article, I realised the program was a simple, primitive equivalent to what we now know as Twitter: it put a current status update online. KWebStat was a little different: instead of writing a message, you could click some buttons to indicate what you were doing at that moment, and you could set custom activities to show. KWebStat was a lot more primitive than Twitter though: it updated a static HTML page and you needed some magic to get that page online, but the basic premise was there. There were a few niceties though: KWebStat could grab which song you were listening to in your CD or music player as well as grab a screenshot and put that online. It was a pretty primitive first implementation of status-blogging, and I used it on my old homepage.

So, if the Twitter folks would kindly send over a portion of that mountain of gold that they have, it would be appreciated.

Hugs, Jono.

  • Gareth J. Greenaway

    Would you prefer: “Al Bacon” or “Jono Gore” for your new name? :)

  • jono

    Jono Gore please, it also works for the metal too. :)

    Heh, when I posted it, it reminded me of the Al Gore Internet thing. :)

  • http://blog.nixternal.com nixternal

    Ya, I learned to leave wayback alone for the time being as it has wasted countless hours of my time. Unfortunately I do remember KWebStat a little bit I think. I am willing to bet I might even have it checked out on one of my old machines that I have retired in the past 10 or so years, such as my Potato box I fired up the other day that still had an old KDE CVS checkout on it.

  • Chuck

    So, if the Twitter folks would kindly send over a portion of that mountain of gold that they have, it would be appreciated.

    Why go after the closed source twitter when you have a perfectly good open source alternative with the laconi.ca software? There’s no need to beg for a portion of the gold when the mine is open and free to take from.

    This is the second blog post in about a month to encourage going for the closed source twitter over the open source laconi.ca alternative by Cannonical employees. Granted Matt’s suggestion of twitter for a new Launchpad notification feature does seem to have been simply not knowing how to use the tool he was recommending.

    What is your reason I wonder?

    • I’m not against closed source software used where no alternative exists, but if there is a viable F/OSS alternative shouldn’t that be the default recommendation from a F/OSS based company?
  • jono

    Dude, it was a joke. I was jokingly referring to an old app being very similar to a modern micro-blogging tool, of which Twitter is most commonly known.

    I chose Twitter to joke that they should send me some money.

    Thats it. I still love freedom. :)

  • Chuck

    Yet you microblog from Twitter.

    Why don’t you originate your posts from identi.ca (or any laconi.ca server of your choice) and send them to twitter that way? Utilize and promote the freedom without losing your closed source followers. With your high profile in the F/OSS and other communities you may show some users a freedom that they did not know existed.

    So even though I missed the joke, the point stands.

  • jono

    I don’t understand. You seem too object to me using Twitter, yet you ask me to send my posts to Twitter via identi.ca.

    I could understand if you wanted me to stop using Twitter entirely and use identi.ca, but it seems a little odd that you suggest I send it to Twitter via identi.ca.

    The reason why I haven’t used identi.ca is purely because I just haven’t got around to it. I rarely microblog as it is, and I just haven’t got around to setting up an account. I will do when I get some time.

  • http://linuxoutlaws.com Fab

    The real question is: Did yours stay up or did it have a silly 404 graphic?

    Aside from that I’m a bit glad I wasn’t involved in Linux back then. Man, that desktop was ugleeeee! 😉

  • http://mjr.towers.org.uk/ MJ Ray

    You are the real Napster, aren’t you? (Italian Job re-make)

  • http://pfrields.fedorapeople.org/ Paul W. Frields

    Or we could have them send that same amount to the people who wrote ‘finger’ way back when. :-)

    Ah, ‘vi ~/.plan’, my old friend….

  • Roger

    Is this your fault as well then? :)


    You really should be more careful!

  • jono

    Damn you, smartarse! :)

  • Chuck

    It’s not that I object to the use of twitter to publicize yourself and what you do. You have followers there that chose to be there for whatever reason.

    It is the choice of a closed source platform over an equally good Free platform as your primary choice. Particularly when the Free platform can allow you to embrace the freedom you preach and connect you to your established followers where you have been.

    It is much the same as your LUGRadio days with the OGG and MP3 files. Produce the MP3s for those that are not aware of or cannot take advantage of the OGG freedom. You recorded and mixed the show on closed source software because there was not an equivalent free package that would do what you needed.

    In this case, the free tool exists to give you the ability to do what you want in an equal manner. Every time you use Twitter you are deciding to use closed source rather than open source.

  • http://www.quinncoincorporated.org/ Michael @ QuinnCo

    This actually reminds me of what Mark Shuttleworth was mocking up for the new Fast User Switcher Applet. I like the screenshot option, but a webcam capture would be even better.

    It would be interesting to be able to update a MySpace of Facebook status and default image from FUSA. Type your status, mood, and take your pic (if you have a webcam) all from a simple dialog. I should put this on brainstorm…

  • http://www.jaduncan.com jaduncan

    You appear to misspell ‘humour’. What happened to the Wolverhampton?