Don’t build walls! Twitter’s new API

I logged into my blog tonight intending to write about the life of an academic with reference to the “true” meaning of spring break. What I didn’t realize when I went to update my plug-ins was that a change in Twitter’s API would render my Twitter app for WordPress useless (I use Twitter Widget Pro and have liked it for a while) – and that I would end up essentially building my own version of the application to compensate!

Luckily, with the help of Google I found a great set of instructions for performing the update, as my initial attempts had me saying “This says I’m applying to build a new app….that can’t be right!” But it was.

While there is justification for this move – most notably, the hope it will limit the availability issues that have occasionally plagued Twitter – I can’t help feeling squeamish. Before I go further, let me add this disclaimer: I’m not a developer, nor am I especially well-versed in how it works. HTML coding and managing my blog is about as far as my web skills go. But I see this as part of a larger trend, one that’s been around for a while: the walled garden. Apple perhaps may be most famous for this; their applications (think the iCloud) are lovely if you have many Apple devices (Mac laptop, iPhone, iPad), but make it very hard to have some of each (as I do – a MacBook Air, a Galaxy Nexus Android phone).

With this move, it appears that Twitter is resealing their commitment and their place on the list of companies that make it harder to take advantage of the so-called “open” web. And unfortunately, it seems like a trend that is likely to continue.

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