Monthly Archives: June 2017

Consuming IFTTTed Twitter favs

‪I consider my Twitter favourites to be mainly bookmarks although endorsements happen too. Liking comes from Instagram and Facebook but because my social media communities do not really overlap, I sometimes want to send digital respect in Twitter too. I’ve tried to unlearn the classic liking in Twitter and instead reply or retweet, but old habits – you know.‬

‪There’s little point in bookmarking if you cannot find your bookmarks afterwards. The official Twitter archive that I unzip to my private website few times a year, does not include favourites, which is a pity. The archive looks nice out of the box, and there is a search facility. ‬

‪Since late 2013, I have an active IFTTT rule that writes metadata of the favourited tweet to a Google spreadsheet. IFTTT is a nifty concept but oftentimes there are delays and other hickups. ‬

‪My husband and I lunch together several times a week. Instead of emailing, phoning or IM’ing the usual 5 minutes and I’m there bye message, I had this idea of enhanced automation with IFTTT. Whenever I entered the inner circle around our regular meeting point, IFTTT sent me an email announcing Entered the area. This caused a predefined email rule to trigger which forwarded the message to the receiver. Basta! At first this simple digital helper was fun, but as soon as it didn’t deliver, trust started to erode rapidly.

– Where are you? Didn’t you get the message?
– What message?

Sometimes the email came doubled, sometimes it arrived the next day (or never). After few months I had to deactivate the rule.‬

‪With tweets it’s not so critical. In the beginning I checked few times that the spreadsheet do was populated, but then I let it be. From time to time Google (or IFTTT) opens up a new document but fortunately keeps the original file name, just adds a version number.‬

IFTTT rule

IFTTT rule

‪I appreciate Google’s back office services but don’t often use their user interfaces. Besides, my IFTTT’ed archive does not include the tweet status text, so without some preprocessing the archive is useless anyhow. In theory I could get the text by building calls myself to the Twitter API with the Google Query Language, or become a member of the seemingly happy TAGS community. TAGS is a long-lasting and sensible tool by Martin Hawksey. But what would blogging be without the NIH spirit, so here we go.‬

‪Because I have access to a instance, I made a searchable tweet interface as an R Shiny web app. For that I needed to‬

  • Install googlesheets and twitterR
  • Collect information on my tweet sheets‬, and download all data‬ in them
  • Expand short URLs‬
  • Fetch the Twitter status from the API‬
  • Write a row to the latest sheet to denote where to start next time‬
  • Build the Shiny app‬

The app acts now as a searchable table to my favourite tweets. While at it, I also plotted statistics on timeline.

Here is the app. The R code for gathering all data is in GitHub, likewise the code how I built the app.