Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

The Budget: Twitter ye not

April 21, 2009

Recently I’ve been making use of Twitterfall, a tool that helps you keep track of what’s been said on a particular subject, across the Twitter world. Basically, it allows you to monitor a particular set of hashtags (#), which twitterers use to identify the subject of a posting. The ‘fall’ part describes the way in which posts with the monitored tag arrive from Twitter – they visually drop down a window on your screen.

Yesterday there was great merriment across the blogosphere over the Telegraph’s experiment with hosting a twitterfall window within their own webpages which was set to monitor the hashtag #budget. The problem was that large numbers of people saw this as an unmoderated way to add content to the Telegraph website by posting all sorts of nonsense to Twitter and simply adding the #budget tag. The Guardian’s media blog in particular had enormous fun at their rival’s expense, and I particularly liked the spoof comment that Barclays had agreed to pay all our personal tax bills.

Unfortunately, the general consensus seems to be that Telegraph staffers are a bunch of techno-illiterates who don’t understand the world of Twitter. But wait a minute, isn’t this a bit harsh? Surely this shows they believe in the power of the crowd to pull together and perform better than any one individual? Perhaps the Telegraph deserve some respect for hoping that people would utilise some personal self-restraint and actually post something of value about the budget. All this demonstrates is that Andrew Keen is right – we’re really not ready for an ‘unedited’ future.


Using Twitter

April 15, 2009

Regular readers will know that I have been a little sceptical about Twitter, saying, for example, that it needs some kind of killer app. in order to really take off. Recently though I have begun to mellow, as I have been making serious use of my Twitter account. There is, as you might expect, a vibrant community of users across the JISC universe that I inhabit. By following tweets I’ve been able to keep up with how enterprise architecture (EA) is shaping up across the higher education sector – particularly useful at the moment as I am in the process of preparing a synthesis report on EA.

Twitter started out as a quick way of saying ‘What I’m doing at the moment is…’. It’s still used a lot like this, but what I’ve noticed is that it also seems to be increasingly taking the same form as the earliest blog postings took i.e. very short statements along the lines of ‘Oh, have you seen this interesting thing’ followed by a link. Perhaps we are coming full circle? How long before Twitter expands to allow more than 140 characters?

The utter twitterings of your local MP

March 5, 2009

Not content with bloating Hansard with their backbench ramblings, many MPs are starting to fill twitter space. A new service to help collate these twitterings, Tweetminster, was launched last week. It allows you to “track UK politics in real time” using a handy search tool and also a “Hot in Westminster” tag cloud.

All in all it’s a nicely laid out Web 2.0 style tool, but I suspect there will be much fun to be had with this one. Harriet Harmen, for example has said nothing in over two weeks. Is this because she has been busy secretly plotting to get her hands on the leadership? Or take a look at Michael Fabricant (the Guardian’s favourite MP) whose latest posting reveals he is in the cinema crying at a film. And then there’s Lembit Öpik…

The disappointing thing though, from the point of view of this blog, is the singular failure of our expense-accounted representatives to post what they are having for lunch.

Orwell’s Twitter

February 13, 2009

I’ve said in the past that I don’t quite get what’s so attractive about Twitter and I’ve argued that what it was looking for was some kind of killer app. This prompted a conversation (by that 20th century technology – email – I’m afraid to confess) with my friend from university, Martin, about what you could actually do with the technology.

Being an inventive chap he went away and came up with something. As an ardent sailor he’s familiar with modern navigational technologies such as AIS, a system which allows automatic identification of ships. Martin has an existing site that tracks ships in his local area, on the south bank of the River Orwell, and also provides local weather forecasts and navigational tips. He has now twitterfied this information (is that a verb?) at: The obvious advantage is that anyone can follow this via their mobile phone and other people can potentially feed in information.

Incidentally the writer George Orwell named himself after the River Orwell. I wonder what the inventor of NewSpeak would have made of twitter’s 140 character communications.

Twitter on toast

December 19, 2008

In a truly inspired combination of breakfast and technology, a man in Pittsburgh, USA, has connected his toaster to twitter. On his blog, Hans Scharler explains how he has wired his toaster up to the Web via a device called the ioBridge. You can follow the progress of toast production in his house and, quite wonderfully, his toaster already has 61 twitter followers. Even more interesting, perhaps, is that his toaster is in turn following eight other twitters. I don’t know about this passing the Turing test, but it shows some signs of basic artificial intelligence.

Seems a great item to end the technology year on and many thanks to my old college friend Martin for raising this one.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Twitter – time for a killer app

March 25, 2008

The technology de jour seems to be Twitter, the increasingly popular micro-blogging service that allows you to post bite-sized, online updates on what you are doing at the moment. These 140-character texts are then circulated to groups of registered friends or, if you choose, placed on public display. There’s a YouTube video that provides a basic introduction.

Twitter was originally envisaged as a tool to exchange with friends simple messages (or “tweets”) about what you’re doing at any particular moment – “In the tea shop enjoying lemon drizzle cake” – but it seems to be morphing into more of a conversational tool which supports highly fluid, spontaneously forming online discussions. Those that love this new form of communication – the “twitterati” – seem to be revelling in it. The TweetVolume tool even lets you gauge what people are particularly interested in at any one time (try entering Obama and Clinton).

If you think about what it actually does, Twitter and services like it (such as Pownce) provide a kind of device agnostic form of paging. But is there a killer app for Twitter – beyond facilitating conversations? LunchoverIP has some material on how traffic news is being streamed through Twitter in St. Louis, and Howard Rheingold has a page of links and news items, including information on how protesters use it for co-ordinating meetings, but none of these really fit the bill.

An alternative view is provided by David Tebbutt of Information World Review who recently wrote: “If ego-driven, time wasting blog postings are being shrunk and shifted to Twitter, then what’s left ought to be a better, more thoughtful, blogosphere.”


Or should I say: