love & hate: from knuckle tattoos to the internet’s emotional pulse with Twistori

This is one side of the story of twistori. I will tell the other later.

grown up, sophisticated...

Anyone who knows me knows about my rants. I like to rant. I rant about a lot of things, and always have—but as the years have accumulated in me and changed me, so have the topics of my rants shifted and changed.

When I was a young kid, I ranted about people. I couldn’t stand almost anyone around me (and not without reason). I hated that I had almost nobody to talk to, to relate to. I hated how easy it was to fool and trick people, how nobody was awake enough to notice. I hated how everyone was so tied up with themselves all the time that they didn’t see.

I was still ranting about people when I got to middle and high school, but by then I was also ranting about technology. I’d found the internet and developed some friends who, at least, weren’t confused by my vocabulary, and most of them I found through tech “communities.” Tech (and writing) became the thing for me, so it consumed a lot of my waking thoughts and thus also featured heavily in my rants.

Rants which were still bitter and angry, because I was a bitter and angry person.

i finally told her i loved her

In the past few years, time and experience—and more importantly, dedication to learning from that experience, however painful—have mellowed me.

Most of my rants are now positive. Instead of being self-serving Rants to Wither You with How Smart and Cynical is Amy they are, in a way, Rants for Good: ranting on behalf of people; about responsibility, against victimhood; about shipping and thinking for one’s self. I rant about bad software, and bad writing, and bad attitudes, and try to be constructive about it, to help and prod people to go and do better.

Because people can do better, and people can and *do* change. Change is something I believe in. I can’t look back on the young, angry, disconnected me and still believe in a static world.

I still see lots of change needed in the world and I figure I’m stuck here for the next 60 or 70 years, so I’m in it for the long-haul.

So, to the point. Finally. Perhaps.

This has been an anti-manifesto for a new project, built around Twitter, that Thomas and I produced and shipped yesterday. It was an idea that I’d been kicking around for months; for which I’d registered the domain two months ago; and which had, in my head, grown so immense (and so awesome) that it could never be built by mere humans.

The project as I just described has also been the subject of many private rants to friends, as has the reasoning behind it.

Yesterday morning on waking I half-thought to myself, “Amy, you’re a hypocrite.” So I accosted Thomas in his bath and demanded some technical knowledge.

Six hours later, we both tweeted about Twistori.


Will it change the world? No, probably not, for any significant value of “world.”

Do I have hope that it will help us further our Rants for Good agenda? Yes, indeed.

Was it also a lot of fun? You bet your sweet ass.

No Comments

  1. Pierre says:

    How poetic ! Thanks Amy for this little website, it’s just plain awesome, as usual 😉 Please, keep on ranting !

  2. Very cool little experiment Amy (and Thomas).

  3. Looks great Amy. This would make a great screensaver…

  4. Jose Espinal says:

    Great stuff really, I don’t know why I prefer reading women’s blogs, lol…that is weird

  5. trula says:

    I think it’s very interesting and positive. I love it!

  6. Matt Grover says:

    Awesome idea, simple but so effecttive.

    Kevin Rose & Gary Vaynerchuck both tweeted(?) it, which is how I found it, I second Kenny’s comment, it’s begging to be a screen saver, maybe a dashboard widget and facebook app as well, not that you should have too much work to do.

    Anyway, well done to both of you, L8r

  7. Bira says:

    Marvelous! Very poetic, and I also loved the visual effects.

    Is it open source :)? I’d love to take a look at the source code behind those effects – I’m sure it will look as pretty to me as the effects themselves :). If it isn’t, please ignore the impertinent question.

  8. I love the concept and the colorfulness and the wickedly simple interface!

    Just looking at the thing for a few minutes, I saw a number of really emotional comments (some of them quite sad). Very interesting little tool!

  9. sahadeva says:

    Woah, just spotted twistori from tumblr. Awesome! Really great work. -Saha from Jelly NYC, etc.

  10. Fred says:

    Perhaps you should switch fields?

    You might be happier in the military, you get to go out and kill somebody nearly everyday. It may relieve some of the tension and provide a service to humanity. Democracy marches on!

    Failing that, you should consider working in a slaughterhouse. You get to kill a big animal every few minutes and help feed the world. What could be better?

    Hope this helps.


  11. brent says:

    Its beautiful. 🙂

    Not sure if I’ll use it as a destination site, after the current mesmerised viewing wears off of course. But who cares, its beautiful.

  12. Amy says:

    We are completely overwhelmed by the response! Thank you all so much for your kind words.

    We’re already planning the next step. This is not a one-trick pony but we’re making sure to keep it super simple 🙂

    @Bira, it’s not open source but the effects are all done in JavaScript. You’re welcome to look at the code (like you can do with any other web site).

  13. roxstyle says:

    It is just captivating, engrossing, and beautiful on several levels. Years ago-was thinking it would be cool to have a site that would take people to a meditative state. gosh, i think you’ve done it.

  14. Stu Andrews says:

    (was going to Twitter this, then remembered I could comment at the actual point of origin, heh)

    @amyhoy: New reader to your blog, but really enjoying it. Love the latest "rant" post. Very cool.

    Amy, Twistori is very cool. Seems a few people have started (in the wider world, not here on the comments) with "not much business value, but ..". My first thought was "I bet they’ve got a whole lot more planned", and then "This is going to draw people, it’s bling, and smart people can make a ton of money offa bling".

    So kudos to you. Awesome. I look forward to see what you’ve got going on inside the Stori.

  15. Carry says:

    Happy holiday to all of you!

  16. This was actually a very refreshing way to read twitter posts! Maybe it’s part of the experience, but some short text introducing you to how it "works" would be nice.

    I quickly found out that a tap on <space> pauses the flow of twitters until you hit <space> again. Very useful – except it doesn’t quite work if you switch categories (ie. from love to hate). Suddenly you get both love & hate at double the speed, and you can’t pause it.

    But I guess bugs are to be expected at this point of time. Still a very nice way to browse twitters posts, as I said 🙂 [Using Safari btw.]

  17. Snel Lenen says:

    Amy, when are you going to publish what and when the "next step" will be?

  18. Alan Hogan says:

    Twistori is good stuff. It’s deeply personal and anonymous. Feels kind of like PostSecret.

  19. Ben LeDonni says:

    Amy, I love twistori. At first I didnt get it, but now I truly think it is ingenious. I think you should add one flavor, which is allowing users to select "random" and cycle through each word. Twistori is the first of it’s kind to leverage web2.0 for content in an intuitive enough way to be wallpaper in someone’s house. It really is a very good idea and shows how simple and effective design goes much further than clunky and feature loaded. Follow me on twitter: wisemansay.

  20. Thomas Fuchs says:

    @Ben: just click on each word you want, then press the "R" key 🙂

  21. Aaron says:

    I love twistori! i would like to see it as a screen saver for my mac. that would be sweet! Its crazy how you read the "i loves" and you feel so good inside and think the world is a wonderful place, and then you switch to the "i hates" and reality smacks you in the face lol.

  22. @seanosteen says:

    Those six keywords are very special. I suspect that much deliberation went into distilling it to just those six. I think they’re special because they extract the human element of twitter that seems to be vanishing beneath the waves of spam and other commericial interests. Twistori increases the signal to noise ratio for twitter’s public timeline (at least for the English language) and I hope it gains as much attention as possible. Great work Amy & Thomas!

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