After having started this blog a trainee of mine recommended I get started with twitter because I was trying to get connected to other iphone developers. I figured it would probably be useful if you had a network of, say, a thousand guys who are also interested in coding iPhone apps.
Now there is this guy Tim Haines who had the smart idea to put up a spreadsheet on Google Documents and link this with an online form where people could add themselves. Everybody who develops for the iPhone is invided to leave his mark. By adding your name and apps you will get an entry in this Google spreadsheet.
You could go through the list and follow 900 people manually on twitter, or – much quicker – fire up a ruby script written by David Clements to do that automatically. I did not have my Mac with my at the time, so I installed Ruby under Vista and got frustrated right away as it is usual under Windows. First I found that the twitter ruby gem was not working under Windows without some tinkering, some problem with the path. Then I kept getting a “411 Length Required” error, but this I was able to fix by turning off the firewall. I hear that all of these issues are not present on OSX.
So in the end I doubled the number of people that I am following on twitter in only a few minutes. My hope was that this might dramatically increase the quality of my twitter network because I am only interested in iPhone Dev related tweets. So what was my result besides getting twice as many spam tweets?
Of 850 developers who where on the list at that time approx 100 followed me right back. Those I consider the few diamonds that this approach was able to add to my network. Unfortunately there is no way to know who those people are that will actually follow you back and also are interested in your ramblings.
So this method will get you quality through quantity. That sounds to me like pretty much how the Internet in general and twitter specifically seem to work.
Addendum, by popular demand: Here are the steps that where necessary on my Mac to get the script running.
Mac users are lucky because their Mac comes with a fully fledged Ruby system. There where some bumps, but nothing a little RTFM could not fix.
First make sure that your Ruby system is fresh.
sudo gem update --system sudo gem update
Install the Google Spreadsheet Gem as shown in the Read Me.
sudo gem sources -a http://gems.github.com sudo gem install gimite-google-spreadsheet-ruby
Install Twitter Gem 0.4.1, because the newer versions don’t work with the script. Otherwise you get something about invalid arguments at line 22.
sudo gem install twitter -v 0.4.1
Modify the script to use the 0.4.1 twitter gem instead of the newest one. You can omit this step if you haven’t installed a newer twitter gem.
require "rubygems" require "google_spreadsheet" gem 'twitter','=0.4.1' # inserted to force specific version require 'twitter'
Execute the script.