Sunday, 6 May 2012

What Is Twitter?

Twitter. It’s for keeping in touch with friends, say some, it’s for sharing ideas say others, it’s for promoting your organisation and getting your message out to the world, say more.

This is not what Twitter is; this is what you can do with Twitter.

Twitter at a basic level is an online database of information that can be read and written to by much of the world’s population who own a computer or other device capable of connecting to the Internet.

It’s not until you look at it like this that you can realise its full potential. What’s more the nice people at Twitter provide an API to make it easy to query and extract the data. You can select tweets by user, list, hashtag, phrases or words in the tweet and more.

If this all sounds a bit nerdy that’s because it is, so here’s a practical example of what can be achieved. This page here displays Tweets from everyone who’s in this list and have used the hashtag #geotagtest. It displays the four most recent images attached toTweets that fit this criteria and it will also display the 100 latest Tweets on a map where the user has added a location to their Tweet.

This approach means that Twitter becomes a very simple to use but amazingly powerful management tool for small pieces of website content. Users could be sitting in an office, or standing in a field and (so long as they have an internet connection) can contribute to this page.

Not only does this have potential for covering events, it would also be useful in an Emergency Operation situation where information needs to be contributed and distributed to and from various locations and the public.

So next time you’re asked “What is Twitter”, tell them it’s an online database with 140 million users; what they choose to do with this data is entirely up to them.

Do you have any new ideas for using Twitter for micro content management? Would you like to know more? You can discuss this with me on Twitter @PhilRumens.
This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.