Archive Your Social-Network Life With ThinkUp 1.0
ThinkUp, the web-based data-liberation and analytics application from former Lifehacker editor Gina Trapani, has just released version 1.0.
Social networking is often very ephemeral: You post something, a few people respond, and then the conversation just evaporates, disappearing into the ether. One of ThinkUp’s goals is the give your social-network posts a longer life and ensure that you’ll have a way to refer back to those conversations years later.
ThinkUp is a web-based app that pulls your data out of social silos like Facebook or Twitter and stores it on your own server. You control your own data, and have a record of your conversations potentially long after Facebook, Twitter and the rest have become mere footnotes in the history of the web.
“The conversations you have online are worth capturing, keeping, and referring back to over time,” writes Trapani on her Smarterware blog. “In fact, the things you share and the conversations you have about them gain weight, perspective, and importance over time, not just the moment you post them.”
The backup and archiving features alone would make ThinkUp a worthwhile app to have, but the real analytical power of ThinkUp comes after it has a local copy of your data. That’s when ThinkUp starts slicing, dicing and pulling together your data to reveal things about your online activity that you’ve never considered before.
For example ThinkUp can pull conversations together, plot them on a map, reveal which of your posts are the most popular, which are the most replied to and even track all the links your friends have ever sent you.
We took a detailed look at the software back when the beta was first released. Now ThinkUp is out of beta and ready for prime time with a 1.0 release.
The first step to using ThinkUp is installing the app on your server. The requirements are modest and installation is automated — if you can install WordPress, you can install ThinkUp. Of course not everyone is comfortable installing WordPress so ThinkUp takes a page from Dave Winer and offers a ThinkUp instance running on Amazon EC2. Just follow the link, sign in to your Amazon account and you’ll have ThinkUp running in no time (the first year is free for new EC2 users, $15/ month for the rest).
Once ThinkUp is installed you need to point it to your accounts. I tested it with Twitter and Google+ and had no problems importing data. One nice touch that’s been added since the beta release is a secret RSS feed for running the ThinkUp updater. Sure, you can add a cron job if you know what you’re doing, but for novice users the RSS feed is an ingenious tool — just add it to your favorite RSS reader (for example, Google Reader) and the reader will periodically scrape the feed, triggering the update.
Because ThinkUp pulls in your raw data it can show you useful stuff you won’t find on the social networks themselves. This is particularly noticeable with Twitter, which really shows very little beyond the most recent few tweets from your friends. ThinkUp takes the same data Twitter has and actually puts it to good use, showing, for example, your most replied-to posts, your most re-tweeted posts and, my personal favorite, conversations you have with other Twitter users. It also tracks everything your followers do as well. For example, ThinkUp catalogs all the links your followers have posted, displaying them all in one place. There’s also an excellent search function for tracking down old tweets.
While ThinkUp puts a tremendous amount of data at your fingertips, it manages to keep the interface simple enough that the data is never overwhelming.
ThinkUp also now makes it possible to host your conversations at a permalink on your site. It’s a feature that’s particularly useful if you frequently ask your Twitter followers for advice or suggestions. For example, here’s a page where Trapani asks her followers which iPad apps they recommend.
ThinkUp is already in use on several popular Twitter accounts, like, for example The White House (Steve Martin is also a fan) and in my testing it worked without a hitch. If you’re comfortable setting up basic software like WordPress, installing ThinkUp should be a snap and if you’re not confident around a server there’s always the Amazon-based version.
If you’d like to see more of what ThinkUp has to offer, check out the video below: