Saturday, June 14, 2008

I just made my own Twitter...

If you are reading this blog, chances are pretty good you are not a hermit living in a cave somewhere. That means odds are you have heard of Twitter. Twitter is the super-hyped web service that allows you to post short messages that anyone else can read to see what you are up to. I'm still trying to understand the hype, seeing how I thought we have been doing this with away messages for at least 10 years. However, I do like the fact that you can update this information by phone. I have always been thrilled with being able to affect things from a distance. The idea of being able to update a webpage from anywhere I have a cell signal blows my mind. I can 100 miles from my computer and still post a message to my class website.

I experimented with Twitter here and there over the past few months. Like many such services, Twitter offers code to post widgets on any website that will show your status. My problem was that they only had 2 or 3 different options for the widget, none of which were particularly attractive to me. I felt there had to be a way to make my own widget and display a message sent via text message on a cell phone. After several failed attempts, I finally found a way to do this without Twitter. Twitter could drop off the face of the net tomorrow, and my page would still work.

You can test it out below. Here's how:
**Click here to open the test page in a new window**

  1. Send a text message to 41411. It is a site called
  2. The first word of the text must be edutech
  3. After that you can type your own message (edutech Here is my message.)
  4. Refresh this page.
  5. Read your message below.
Email me if you want this on your site. There are a few things you need to know. If a lot of people want it, I will post more detailed instructions.


  1. Just tried this with my hello world comment. Have others used this? Nice app for the texting application and you said no Twitter needed, cool! How would it work for multiple postings? is there an archive? is everything free except the texting charges?

    Also saw your GPS map tracking entry, scary!

    What educational uses do you see?

    Tom Grissom of TechTalk4Teachers

  2. I haven't seen this done elsewhere. I can't believe I am the only person who thought of this, however. (Maybe I don't give myself enough credit)

    It is possible to make it archive your messages. Right now the messages I send are saved to a simple text file. Then a Flash movie calls my message from the text file to display it on the page. I could adjust the script to archive old messages, instead of saving each new one over the old.

    I could also put a timestamp on each message.

    And I pay nothing beyond text messaging charges. It is nice too because I host my own website, so I don't have to worry about Twitter going down because too many people are using it (which seems to happen on a regular basis).

    I am debating the idea of making a sort of community grid and allowing each student to post short messages form their cell phones. I may need to figure out a way to filter that first...

    Thanks for your feedback!

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