Posts tagged geosearch

How To Make Twitter Useful For You – Privacy, Advanced Twitter Search

I think Twitter is the best way to get real-time crowd sourced news.  Yes, Twitter can be a clusterfuck of useless people spouting useless information…but it doesn’t have to be!

If you’re not interested in publishing to the masses I’d recommend setting your tweets to private and requiring that you approve followers before they can see your tweets (check your account settings).  This combined with only following people you trust to tweet useful information will go a long way towards minimizing any craziness.

Even if you’re not going to tweet at all, following your favorite news sources is a great way to get access to your news in one place.  If you read CNN, ESPN, NY Times and, of course, Tech to Live By everyday then follow those twitter accounts and your feed will be filled with info from sources you already read (for me it’s often easier than RSS feeds).

Now, searching Twitter is the other side of the equation.  There are millions of tweets that you’ll never see (nor have any desire to see) and that’s the way it should be.  On occasion though, you’ll want information on a topic that hasn’t shown up in your feed.  That is when you can fire up the Twitter search engine.  With millions of tweets constantly flowing through the system there is almost always at least a few people tweeting about whatever it is you’re interested in.

My personal favorites are things like:

  • Finding out why I’m stuck in traffic (and yes, it can be faster than waiting for your navigation system POI to update).
  • Finding out why there are 8 cop cars circling my house.
  • Figuring out if that was an earthquake I just felt.
  • How big an area is affected by this power outage?
  • How long the line is for a ride at Disneyland.

The list goes on for a while… It’s really an excellent way to get real time reports of things that wouldn’t normally be covered by a regular news source or just haven’t had time to make it to the larger slower moving news team.

Searching is pretty simple and you can use keywords or #hashtags to investigate a particular topic.  Your searches can be saved as necessary to make running the same search again later easy.

The real power of searching  comes in when you move over to the Advanced Twitter Search page.  Advanced Twitter Search gives you a wide range of ways to search the Twitter stream and brings a lot of new opportunities into the mix.

There are lots of services to help you manage searches, but I like the Twitter’s own version the best.


Instead of just keywords and hashtags you can search by:

  • Words – Search by word or phrase with various syntax options including hashtags and multi-language support
  • People – Search by username including to, from and referencing that person
  • Places – Search within a radius of a given location. Recognizes different location information (like zip code or ‘NYC’), but the location is limited to what the user sets in in their profile (more on this later).
  • Dates – Search by since / until X date.
  • Attitudes – Search for positive / negative attitude (looks for emoticons) or asking a question.
  • Other – Results include links and/or retweets.

The places search feature being limited to the user’s profile location is not as useful as a real location. Twitter is no doubt working on updating this feature based on their GeoAPI.

Combining all these different search elements you are able to create a search tailored to exactly what you are looking for and really get the most out of the abundance of information that is available through Twitter.

[ NOTE: For nerds and text editor lovers, all these search options are available through basic search using advanced syntax (if you want to use that method then you're smart enough to find the commands online without me giving you a link).]

Hopefully now you can use Twitter to your advantage rather than just being overwhelmed by useless information (or staying off the Twitterscape completely).

Do you have a favorite way to use Twitter?  Let us know in the comments!

Twitter Local Trends keeps you ‘up to tweet’ on the latest in your area

On Tuesday Twitter launched a new feature that (I think) is the first to take advantage of their new GeoAPI from Mixer Labs.

Local Trends builds upon Twitter’s trending topics feature by adding a geo-location layer.  Now you can set your location and see trending topics in your area.

For example, as I write this I can see that both the national and local trending topics include Apple iPad announcements and the canceling of Ugly Betty (seriously people?).  At the same time the state of the #union is a trending topic nationally while in Los Angeles people would rather be tweeting #nowthatsghetto than discussing politics (I do love my hometown).

So, that’s not exactly a profound example (tho it does say something about my angelino brethren), but it’s the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week.  It’ll be most interesting to see what pops up around the time of big public events or things like power outages and earthquakes.  I already believe that Twitter is the most powerful real-time news search engine available to the public right now.  For example, when there is an earthquake here in LA I’ve found the fastest way to find the epicenter and magnitude is to search ‘earthquake’ on Twitter.  With the addition of this layer of geographical information you’ll be able to get a better picture of what is going on in your area, right now.

Right now Local Trends is limited to a handful of major cities worldwide (mostly in the US), but Twitter will definitely continue to roll out new features associated with geo-location data and Twitter’s ability to deliver useful and relevant search results will continue to improve.

We’ll keep an eye on these features as they evolve and in the future we’ll talk about Twitter’s advanced search function and how you can use it to make your life easier.

via [Twitter Blog]

Twitter, Geolocations and You!

Twitter Stream - TownMeMore Location based services are coming to Twitter soon (in November they introduced their first geotagging capabilities).  You can read about the Twitter’s acquisition of Mixer Labs and the GeoAPI (previously TownMe API) here.  Now, I know a lot of people worry about the stalker-ish feeling of geo-enabled services and apps, but if you carry a cellphone you are track able and it’s just a question of whether or not you publish that information publicly.

In the case of geo-Twittering I’d like to highlight a couple of ways you could benefit without just further contributing to the general flow of minutia that is often associated with Twitter.

Real Time Search

If you’re like me you’ve turned to Twitter more than once for real-time information about something.  For me it’s primarily been things like blackouts, earthquakes, plumes of smoke in the distance, and other similar things that just couldn’t be covered effectively by standard news media.  I’ve always had to search for keywords or tags to find what I was looking for, usually combining multiple searches to get a complete answer.  The addition of location information would enable searches by proximity to be combined with the keywords netting a significantly better result.  I’d really like to see someone use this feature to create a method for communicating DUI checkpoints and the locations of motorcycle cops and their damn radar guns (hey, it’s worked for decades with CB radios, why not Twitter?).


Organize Your Night Out

You have to have a certain critical mass of tech savvy friends for this to work, but when you have flakey friends or you don’t know exactly which bar (or house) everyone will end up at sometimes it’s just easier to tweet your location (or post it to Facebook) and let people find you.  This is the same concept as Google Latitude or Loopt, but without the constant location updates.  I help host a bar crawl every summer and next year you’ll definitely be able to track us online.


So, marketing is not exactly going to ‘benefit’ you, but the addition of geo-location information to Twitter does open the door to some intriguing marketing opportunities (advertising based on location and various contests come to mind).  This is of particular importance as it may develop into a way for Twitter generate some significant revenue.

Even if you wont use these new features directly thousands of users of sites like Seesmic Web, Foursquare, etc can look forward to more robust feature sets.

I’m looking forward to finding out exactly what Twitter has planned for this bit of tech.