But in terms of multimedia sharing, Twitter’s strong point becomes its weakness. The text-based nature of the service prevents us from embedding multimedia content. We can only put URLs in our tweets. The 140 character limitation even forces us to use shortened URLs. If one wants to know more about the content of a link, he or she has to open the link themselves. But Parrotfish is changing that. This web service from embed.ly‘s lab will allow you to preview multimedia content from the embedded URL within your Twitter account.
Adding The Browser Extension
In its simplest sense, Parrotfish works by detecting the existence of multimedia URL’s in a tweet. If it finds a link, Parrotfish will display the content of that URL. The service is able to do so because it’s supported by 165 multimedia providers, including YouTube, Tubmlr, Scribd, Facebook, and Amazon.
Different from the embed.ly WordPress plugin, Parrotfish works on the user’s side. It means the features will only work for those who have downloaded and installed the browser extension. So the first thing that you have to do to view multimedia content on your Twitter account is to click on the download link.
Parrotfish provide extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. The site will detect the browser that you use and give you the appropriate download link. Please note that the extension is called Embedly and not Parrotfish.
You can use the feature right after installation, but you might want to adjust some settings to personalize it. Open up your browser preferences and go to the Extensions tab.
You can enable, disable or uninstall Parrotfish from the extension pane. You could also add your Instapaper account to add the content to your “read later” list.
Now let’s see how Parrotfish can make your Twitter experience better. Pick one of the tweets. You can expand and collapse the content by clicking on the tweet.
Without Parrotfish, the content of the tweet will look like any other ordinary tweet: just plain text with URL(s) to follow.
But with Parrotfish activated, the media content will show up under the link. So, there’s no need to click on the link in order to view it.
As a bonus, you’ll get the Instapaper “Read Later” link under the media, giving you the ability to save the tweet to be read later. But in order for this link to work, you have to fill in your Instapaper user account details in the extension’s preferences.
Parrotfish features also work well for any other kinds of content. Here’s an example of a tweet with a link to a blog post. The content of the post (text and images) is displayed below the link.
If you are a (heavy) Twitter user who uses the web based client, you’ll definitely love Parrotfish. Not only does it save you time from opening those links, it also reduces additional burden off your system by not opening more browser tabs.
Try this web tool and share your thoughts and opinions about it in the comments below. If you are a self-hosted WordPress blogger, be sure to check out the WordPress extension.