Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

R.I.P. Kerplunk 2008-2009

A few years ago, I put together an alpha version of an AIR-based Twitter desktop client, called “Kerplunk!” It deserved its alpha status. It was little more than a proof of concept, focusing solely on displaying a new way of looking at and interacting with streams of tweets. I ran out of time and momentum on the project in mid-2009 and never got around to updating it while the Twitter API evolved (OAuth, id_str, etc).

If I had that primitive alpha version of Kerplunk! today, it would still be able to improve my Twitter experience. Twitter has only gotten noisier, and Kerplunk was the only application to provide ways of suppressing certain types of content—craptweets—either partially or entirely. To deemphasize craptweets, Kerplunk! would simply reduce the screen real estate available for that tweet and truncate it after a certain number of characters. If it turned out to be interesting, despite tricking Kerplunk! into thinking it was crap, you could still spot it and expand it. Simple, yet amazeballs. I miss it.

What’s more, Kerplunk! was designed from Day Zero to go beyond Twitter (in fact, the core application included ZERO references to Twitter or tweets, aside from a command to download and install a plug-in called “Twitter”). You see, I don’t give a damn about tweets or Twitter. I care about what my friends are posting and sharing online, be it on Twitter, Facebook, blogs/RSS, etc.

While the prototype source code lay abandoned collecting dust, the idea and desire remained. The idea grew beyond Kerplunk!, though. Beyond a desktop application, at least. Since 2009, I’ve used my phone more and more to see what my friends are up to, probably up to 50% of my social media usage. I also came up with concepts that would benefit from my application to talk directly to another application, rather than communicating only through social network APIs.

The nice thing about ideas is that they can evolve and change entirely. Over the last 3 years, I’ve wanted different tools to solve different problems I had with my disparate social graph. Kerplunk! evolved into something else entirely. I’ll share what the new project is all about in a subsequent blog post. Stay tuned!

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