Archive for February, 2012 :

Live Twitter chat in email

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 by Anna Yeaman

We wanted this feature as part of our email game framework, so players could send each other smackdowns. Graeme had been using Skype (more on that below), when I thought of piggybacking on a Twitter hashtag.

Twitter API

The latest tweets with e.g. #eslots in them, are grabbed from Twitter’s API and rendered into an email on open. So every time it’s opened, the tweets automatically update. We can also use animation to refresh the stream, without re-opening. We are not limited to hashtags, you can use operators etc. to curate tweets as well.

{ Our Feb 2012 newsletter, pulled in tweets containing #EEC12 }

Live Twitter chat in email

 

One hashtag. Infinite layouts.

What you get back from Twitter is just raw data. We then format it into email creative using, “server-side Photoshop”. You can choose to leave out bits of data, like the time-stamp or avatars. Tweets can be composited over any background image, as it’s carried out server-side. On open, it’s drawn as a single foreground image.

{ Twitter chat layout is drawn server-side, so few creative restrictions }

Live Twitter chat in email

 

 

Mobile / tablet / desktop

DIS can apply a different script for each email client or device. So you might narrow the width, change the color palette and decrease the no. of tweets for iPhone vs. iPad. Though by combining dynamic elements with media queries, you get additional control over the static layout.

Live Twitter chat in email

 

Augment the Twitter stream

Graeme had the idea of adding players game scores to their tweets. You could even do Twitter mashups, such as combining Twitter with Flickr or Klout. There’s any number of APIs - Facebook, Skype and Goggle Maps are some we’ve played with - but they’d have to add to the gameplay to make the cut.

{ Game scores with tweets }

Live Twitter chat in email

 

Email bleeps

Opt to skip tweets that contain naughty words, or replace them with XXX. The naughty words file is customizable, so if you don’t want a competitor’s name in your email just add it in. I’ve mixed feelings about email bleeps, but it’s an understandable concern.

Skype chat

Anyone with Skype can start a conversation with the DIS server (it has its own Skype account). Skype messages via the chat, are then automatically embedded in the email content. So whoever is running the game, can send private Skype texts. Optionally, players can send their own messages to DIS.

It doesn’t have to be text. Below is Graeme and me making a Skype video call to DIS on an iPad, then streaming it into an email on my iPod.

{ Hijacking our Avatar demo in the conference hall at the WhatCounts summit last Oct }

Games in email

 

Get out of the way

Graeme wants to see a couple of gamers taunting each other. I want email that’s more intimate and human. Users will have their own ideas. All this tech does is provide a means to communicate, then get out of the way. However it gets used, I believe social integration in email should go both ways. It should be…social.