It’s all a little vague right now – as things in technology can be before the getting hands dirty stage – but today I saw Twitter launch @anywhere, which commentators are dubbing its version of Facebook Connect.
CNET has details of the feature announced by Twitter CEO Evan Williams at South By Southwest, a new media and technology event in the US.
A brief demo of @Anywhere showed off “hovercards” that bring up Twitter information with a mouse-over, let readers or users connect with their Twitter accounts much like Facebook Connect, or explore more specific possibilities, like instantly following a newspaper columnist’s Twitter account by clicking on his or her byline.
“Discovery is one of the hardest challenges,” Williams said. “It’s putting these in context where you’re already aware of them…Twitter is a very easy way to keep in touch.” The company has 13 launch partners, including Digg, The New York Times, MSNBC.com, eBay, Amazon, and Bing. As Williams describes it, “it’s not an ad platform, it’s an ‘@’ platform,” referring to the syntax of using the ‘@’ symbol to denote communication between individual Twitter users.
While Williams was still speaking, a post went live on the Twitter blog about @Anywhere, describing the technology as “a new set of frameworks for adding this Twitter experience anywhere on the Web. Soon, sites many of us visit every day will be able to recreate these open, engaging interactions providing a new layer of value for visitors without sending them to Twitter.com.”
There has been much emphasis on this announcement, which was incorrectly predicted by some to be an ad-platform (Twitter still has no monetisation strategy), and like many things on Twitter its usage is likely to evolve, with perhaps Twitter users playing a big part – in the same way that they began and popularised retweets (RT).
UPDATE: a new blog post from Twitter has additional information about the practical uses the new feature may support. It seems like an extension of existing link mechanisms which, for example, allow you to send an article to Twitter, though it promises more.
Initial participating sites will include Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, Yahoo!, and YouTube.
Imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! home page—and that’s just the beginning. Twitter has proven to be compelling in a variety of ways. With @anywhere, web site owners and operators will be able to offer visitors more value with less heavy lifting.