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Track coming back to Twitter

A trio of Twitter executives shows up at BearHug Camp to answer questions about the future of the service. Track is coming back, but exactly when is unclear.

A trio of Twitter executives--Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Alex Payne--showed up at the BearHug Camp, held at CNET headquarters in San Francisco, to answer questions about the future of the service, such as when the "track" feature would return. CEO Dorsey said that the acquisition of Summize and work on redoing the back end have made it easier to bring track back, but didn't provide any specific timetable.

The company has 24 employees and recently got $15 million in funding. Dorsey said that Twitter is taking a measured approach to introducing new features, and won't put out track until it can perform satisfactorily. "We are getting to a great place with scaling so we can get ahead of this tsunami," said co-founder Stone.

Twittermen: Jack Dorsey, Andrew Payne, and Biz Stone. Andrew Mager

Developers attending BearHug Camp, including RSS pioneer Dave Winer, asked about getting the full feed from Twitter exchanges--the fire hose of data--which allows developers to create applications on top of Twitter's data and APIs. BearHug Camp moderator Steve Gillmor said grandiosely, "The question is whether access to this functionality will be granted in a critical moment in history." The Twitter trio didn't offer a specific answer at first. "We are not closing any doors, we are trying to open them," Dorsey said.

Stone added that Twitter just staffed the API development team with two new developers. Payne, the lead API developer at Twitter, said that the issues around giving developers access to the full Twitter data flow are business- and user-oriented. "We are trying to figure out appropriate terms and conditions around the fire hose. It's not necessarily monetary," he said.

He gave an example of developers using the Twitter feed in ways that make users uncomfortable, such as an update on Twitter that shows up on a third-party site with ads a user doesn't approve of. Payne said Twitter is now working with its lawyers to come up with the terms and conditions. For developers who want the full feed, "We have to finish the agreement so we can give out the feed in a proper way," he said. Fundamentally, it's about Twitter's business model: how the company gives away the fullness of its data and generates revenue to keep its VCs happy.