Archive for October, 2011

My Twitter Following

I get asked multiple times per day how I got so many followers or if I’m famous or generally what’s the deal with my follow count. I think it’s around 315k right now, I don’t bother checking anymore. So here’s my story:

In the early days of Twitter, I didn’t get it. I finally got talked into setting up an account and started tweeting… It was interesting, but the more people I followed the more interesting it seemed to get. I wrote some scripts to start scraping, indexing and following people. There was no daily rate limit, just the 1.1% ratio. So my script would go crazy, almost doubling my followers every day.

Around 20k followers later, the “1k follows per day” rate limit went into effect. This made things more difficult. My new direction was to create a profile of a user that would follow back – the simplest case of this is a user that has around a 1% ratio but has never tweeted. My bots would crawl, index and filter based on a list of criteria. If there was a match, follow. Do this 1,000 times per day. Every day.

At 100k followers, I started getting people following me in small numbers – a couple hundred a day. I wrote scripts to follow these people back, plus follow new people and keep a database of who I was following and who was following me. Also in that database I stored basic info about the user – when they joined, their last tweet, following ratio, etc.

At 250k followers, the number of people following me each day started exceeding 1,000. I could no longer follow back as many people that followed me. I changed my scripts to stop following new people altogether and just follow people back. I still record statistics in a database, but I only use it to dump deadbeats – those that haven’t tweeted in X days. I also started actively unfollowing based on a set of criteria, but have a whitelist in place for those people I always want to follow.

It was around this time I started auto-DM’ing people that followed me. I’ll write another post on why I auto-DM even though I despise people who do just that.


Steve Jobs, Hero

Steve Jobs, Hero

He didn’t just create new industries, he destroyed them. Steve Jobs has had a deep impact on me, forever changing the course of my life. When my family got an Apple ][e, I was hooked. I remember the day I first saw the Macintosh and my jaw dropped to the floor. There have been many other moments in my life that I remember with distinct clarity, realizing what I was looking at was the way of the future. It was almost as if Steve was living five years ahead of everyone else. Being taken away at such a young age is a tragedy and the world will suffer for it.

I’ve seen two of his keynotes, one of a demo of Aqua which literally brought me to tears. I’m glad I got a chance to see him in action, but am kicking myself for not talking to him when I had the chance. I was on the show floor of Macworld Tokyo, in Apple’s sprawling booth, and I look to my right to see Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller just standing there. They were taking in the scene of the booth and nobody was paying them much attention, just the two of them. I felt like I didn’t want to invade his privacy so held myself back. The same thing happened when I bumped into Jony Ive, but that’s a different story.

Oh, how I wished I could relive that moment. To at least thank him for the wonderful impact he’s had on my life. Steve Jobs will me missed immensely.