Twitter & Local: How Good Will It Get?

Picture 76There are several ways to add location to Tweets: # tags, Praized offers a browser plug-in and Twitter has a geo-location API:

A new API will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet. Folks will need to activate this new feature by choice because it will be off by default and the exact location data won’t be stored for an extended period of time. However, if people do opt-in to sharing location on a tweet-by-tweet basis, compelling context will be added to each burst of information.

For example, with accurate, tweet-level location data you could switch from reading the tweets of accounts you follow to reading tweets from anyone in your neighborhood or city—whether you follow them or not. It’s easy to imagine how this might be interesting at an event like a concert or even something more dramatic like an earthquake. There will likely be many use cases we haven’t even thought of yet which is part of what makes this so exciting.

Now it appears that Twitter is preparing a local trends API. The NY Times also writes about this:

Improvements like geolocation have the potential to make the Internet suddenly relevant to society as it is lived, not just relevant to what happens online. Mr. Sarver imagines features like “local trending topics,” a list of subjects popular in a particular area; or searches for happy hour in a neighborhood of Dallas that will intelligently link tweets about happy hours to the place they were sent from.

Because GPS will provide the ability to become very “granular” with locations, you could mimic through Twitter the banter at the local diner or a barbershop, by limiting a search of tweets to a two-block radius.

The “Mr. Sarver” in the article is Ryan Sarver, formerly of Skyhook Wireless.

In a related development, “real-time” search engine OneRiot has teamed up with mobile search provider Taptu to offer real-time search to mobile Taptu users:

Now, with the partnership between Taptu and OneRiot, you can track the content – photos, links, articles, blogs, videos –  and other information shared as they happen on the real-time web, right on your mobile device.

To check out the new offering, go to on your mobile device and select the Buzz category.  There, you can see hot topics and hot content being shared on the web, right now.  Additionally, OneRiot results are available in the cluster of regular Taptu search results.

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In a location context, quality and usability of real-time search data is going to be determined by filtering. Most of Twitter’s content is currently too “noisy” to be really useful for local search and, especially, local-mobile search. But the availability of Twitter’s geo-location API and local trends (and related developer efforts around these tools) could help start to realize the promise of location and real-time search.


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