"What the hell is Brizzly?" or "Twitter as a wrapper for data transfer"

Some of you may have seen Brizzly.com, a site with very vague information regarding what it is – “Brizzly is a simple way to experience the social web. You can request an invitation code below and we’ll let you know when we have them ready. (Soon!)” I recently received an invitation to the site from @BrandonButram and figured I’d check it out despite my limited interest.

What Brizzly seems to amount to is a slightly thicker client interface for twitter. Functionally, this means that shortened URLs like those from tinyurl and bit.ly will appear as the full URL that they refer to, as well as links to images or youtube videos showing up as the actual content rather than just a link to it. I find this mildly handy, but currently of limited actual use.

BUT, whats interesting to me about this is that it kind of shows twitter posts as encoded or compressed messages. ie: a small message that represents something larger. This isn’t a ground-breaking concept since URLs are basically the same thing, but I suppose we take this for granted. So this takes us back to the initial benefits of twitter – messages are short for maximum interoperability with low bandwidth devices. Rather than using this as just 140 literal characters, we’re now including representative links to external information. This is cool in it’s own right, but to get back to the original goal of high interoperability on low bandwidth devices, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to compress larger data into these 140 character packages so there would be only one small data transfer instead of one small transfer and then one big transfer from the referenced site? a quick google search yielded just such an idea in practice by a couple of fellows attempting to encode an image into 140 characters.

Another example of binary data transfer via twitter is encoding and breaking up a file over several tweets. Personally, I think this method misses the point, but interesting nonetheless and reminiscent of long-ago floppy disk installs and BBS based transfers.

At the end of the day, I am unsure if any of this really matters since bandwidth is relatively abundant in most homes, portable computing/communication devices and even the International Space Station. I suppose developing countries could benefit from some kind of generic 140 character packet size protocol for wireless data transmission, but even such countries are advancing rapidly. It will be interesting to see if the future of twitter lies in continued social media in a “What are you doing?” way, or if it will come to be more than that.

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