Hackers’ Delight: Yahoo’s Top Developer Joins Twitter to Battle the Coming Google Plus API

Get Ready for a Twitter vs. Google Plus Fight for Developer Love

Like to hack on Twitter feeds, streams and APIs? Then there’s good news for you this morning. Twitter has acquired a small startup company called Bagcheck, but the real score in the deal was bringing co-founder Sam Pullara onto the team. Pullara was previously the Chief Technologist at Yahoo where he lead many of the best programs at that beleaguered but technically awesome company.

Yahoo Pipes, Yahoo Query Language, Yahoo Search BOSS and other inspiring technologies that enabled hackers all around the web to roll out sophisticated mashups powered by Yahoo’s backend were championed for years by Pullara. Not everyone liked him, but people who love to experiment with data have got to be excited about his coming to Twitter, the world’s most promising stream of publicly available, semi-structured, real-time social data. Twitter’s relationship with developers has been troubled at times, but Pullara’s joining the team is the latest step the company has taken to make amends with its developer ecosystem.

What About Bagcheck?

The company Pullara co-founded may see its technology integrated into Twitter as well. Thomas Vander Wal coined the word “folksonomy” (a user-driven system of popular classification) and is a big fan of Bagcheck.

“What Bagcheck has done that is brilliant is make it easy to add things from around the web into the Bagcheck site through their ‘BagIt’ bookmarklet, which captures ‘social objects’ and keeps them well structured.

“Twitter is good (not great) for discussion of things, but is really lacking a good view of the social object, in the ‘socially mediated object’ sense that Karin Knorr Cetina used – where people having clear view of the object they were discussing had much better (accurate, robust, and constructive) conversations than those discussing things in the abstract.

“Bagcheck could provide that hook into social objects to bring things within clear view. This will help with resolving things like ‘Which Planet of the Apes movie are you talking about?’ and other ambiguous conversations.”

If Sam Pullara can advance the kind of paradigm represented by Yahoo Pipes and YQL into the Twitter ecosystem, that would drop the already low technical cost of entry and greatly increase the power available to Twitter’s ecosystem of developers.

Pullara can also work on big partnerships. He lead Project Hummingbird, which was Yahoo’s search partnership with Twitter, but we hear he got even further with a Yahoo/Facebook partnership. Those are powerful additions to a hacker/executive resume.

You may remember when a megahyped search startup called Cuil, with tens of millions of dollars in backing, launched then faded away a few years ago? The developer that built the same interface with better performance in four hours, using Yahoo’s Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS), was Sam Pullara.

This Spring, Twitter brought on Jason Costa, former developer relations manager at both Google and Facebook, to be the new Twitter developer relations manager.

Twitter is going to need to stock up on hot developer types, because Google Plus will open an API soon and the competition for developer attention is going to be massive. That’s going to be great news for developers and the users who love them.

Some people say it’s too late for Twitter; that it has mistreated its developer ecosystem too much to win against any viable challenger. Time will tell, but it seems clear that Twitter isn’t going to just let all the hacker attention flow to the little upstart Google Plus without putting up a fight.

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