Last week Twitter announced a forthcoming feature called Twitter Annotations: it’s a system for almost any metadata to be connected to any Twitter message when it’s published. Inside every Tweet is now a space where you could put or find anything, including links out to further instructions or larger bodies of information. That’s always been the case with the 140 characters of content – but now we’re talking about systematic metadata intended for machines, to augment the content. The idea is dripping with potential, but also some risk.
Twitter has been considering adding Annotations for at least two years, according to Platform Team member Raffi Krikorian. That’s a relatively large portion of the company’s young life. Every time a new bit of metadata was added to Tweets, like geolocation information was last Fall, the company would ask itself “should we be doing this, or should we just open up the platform for and and all metadata?”
Now the company has decided to do just that. Twitter publishing tools can now add a description to any tweet their users publish, not as a part of the 140 character message, but as a small machine-readable metadata field that travels along with the content.
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