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Twitter Should Allow Location Info For Each Tweet

January 6, 2009 | Comments Off on Twitter Should Allow Location Info For Each Tweet

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At tonight’s New York Tech Meetup, I will be talking about performing data analysis based on Twitter’s revolutionary data set.  As part of my preparation work, I noticed that a number of interesting location-based services could arise from Twitter’s data set if twitter allowed each tweet to be associated with a specific latitude and longitude.

You are probably thinking that Twitter already lets you specify a location.  You are right, but that location is just a default location assigned to each user on registration.  What I am suggesting is allowing twitter users to submit updates that have a specific latitude and longitude associated with each update.  A third-party client on a iPhone can easily do this by querying the iPhone’s GPS system.

Why would this be helpful?

Here’s a quick example:

During the Atlanta gas crisis, users on twitter started using the #atlgas tag to identify gas stations that weren’t empty.  The logical next step would have been to create a map of these tweets.  But, since the locations were being written in the tweet, it was a serious challenge to accurately parse the messages and auto-create a map.  If each of the tweets accepted lat/longs, it would have become a trivial exercise to produce an extremely helpful map.

Obviously Twitter has a lot on its plate but I continue to believe that it needs to do a better job of making its existing data set more useful to non-Twitter users.  Adding more meta-information to each tweet would certainly help those third-party developers build more interesting applications.

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