Posts Tagged ‘twitter location’

Twitter soon to be the most popular location-based application

Posted in Apps on August 20th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

twitter-locationTwitter has just become my favorite location-aware application!  In a blog post today, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone revealed that a location API will soon be made available for developers to use in their applications.  Soon after, geolocation will be added directly into the Twitter platform enabling the addition of latitude and longitude coordinates to any tweet.

Just for the privacy concerned, Stone says that the feature will be turned off by default so users will have to turn it on manually.  Furthermore, Twitter won’t hold onto any location data for longer than necessary-though exactly how long the company will have it isn’t known.

I can’t help but wonder how this will affect developers of Twitter applications already utilizing location.  Currently, location is derived from whatever we happen to share in our profile.  While the new location API will help make established location-based Twitter apps better, will the eventual incorporation of location into the Twitter platform itself spell the end for these types of apps?

Whatever the case may be, developers will have access to the location API before it’s added to Twitter so they’ll have a bit of a head start.

I also wonder how this change will affect other location-based social networks such as Loopt and Whrrl.  Will Twitter become the all-powerful location-based application that destroys all others?

Make your Twitter Tweets location-based with /location

Posted in Apps, Geospatial Technology, Mobile on May 22nd, 2009 by Justin – Comments

The majority of regular Twitter users are probably familiar with the hashtag, characterized by the symbol # followed by a word indicating some concept or event.  For instance, #followfriday is one you’ll see fairly regularly on Friday’s.  It’s used to recommend people to follow and it’s become a Friday ritual.  For example:


The purpose of the hashtag is to add some structure to the huge amount of messages flowing through Twitter every minute.  By adding a hashtag, it makes Tweets easier to search for and aggregrate by topic.  Some of the stuff I’ve written about this week was announced at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, California and much of it I first heard about by searching for #where20 on Twitter.  But while hashtags are a great way to add some structure to one of the most unstructured data sets on the web, it’s not a perfect solution.

Yesterday, popular social media blogger Stowe Boyd argued that physical location, when mentioned in a Tweet, is not properly compatible with hashtags and he’s right.  For one thing, hashtags were originally conceived to indicate conceptual ideas in order to make it easier to follow topical conversations.  Indicating your physical location isn’t necessarily intended to provoke conversation.  Secondly, as Stowe points out, one word location indicators can often overlap with products, events and ideas.  In one of his examples of this he uses the hashtag #WhiteHouse.  It’s easy to this use hashtag to indicate location, right?  Tweet something like “Just arrived at the #WhiteHouse.”  But in reality the majority of the users utilizing this particular hashtag will probably be involved in some type of political conversation.  So while you could use #WhiteHouse to indicate location, it’s ultimately not the best way to structure it because it becomes meshed in with a plethora of Tweets discussing politics.

So this is what Stowe proposes: /location.  Rather than using a #, an / is used so, in the White House example you might say “Just arrived at the /WhiteHouse.”  That would indicate the White House is a place at which you just arrived and wouldn’t fall in to the wrong data set.  And as for multiple word locations, Stowe proposes beginning and ending with a /.  For example, I could say “I’m at home in /winnipeg, manitoba, canada/.”  Or it could look like this:


This makes sense to me.  While it’s not a perfect solution, it is a step in the right direction when it comes to structuring Twitter data.  And Stowe’s Twitter tools startup, Edglings, is working on an application called Thweres that will make use of the new structure.

I’ve always thought that Twitter could obliterate the mobile LBS industry if it incorporated location natively.  I’d love it if I could open Twitter on my mobile phone and automatically have people Twittering near me pop up in a dedicated list.  But with that comes costs, whether it be in the form of acquiring GPS fixes or revamping the site architecture. And given that Twitter is still working on business model that’ll carry it to profitability, I don’t think adding location metadata is high up on the list of priorities.  However, a third-party Twitter client like Thweres could be a great substitute from an end user perspective and I’m looking forward to trying it out.  After all, location is ‘in’.