Beyond tweets: Twitter mashups for journalists

7:31 pm by Heather Billings. Filed under: API

Twitter’s become an integral part of the Web-savvy journalist’s artillery. The Virginia Tech shootings saw the first real emersion of social media as a reporting tool, showcasing both the problems and proper place of the technology. Most recently, the emphasis has been on using social media to connect to others not only for gathering information, but also for branding yourself as a journalist.

But the potential for using social media for journalism is far greater than it first appears. Wondering how you can use Twitter to do more than just tweet? Take a look at a few of these simple tools that make use of Twitter’s API.

  • A World of Photos: Mashup of Twitter geotagged photos and Google’s Panoramio. See what pictures people are tweeting from locations around the globe. This is a better app in theory than in practice, since it seems like most of the non-Panoramio photos are coming from Eastern Europe. I wasn’t able to find another map that displayed pictures graphically on a map like this, but there’s definitely potential for such an application. Something like this could come in very handy if you want to see what people are paying attention to and telling their friends about, or if breaking news happens and you can’t get a photog there in time.
  • TweepSearch(beta): Search profiles for keywords. You can even search a given Twitter user’s followers’ profiles for a keyword. Add the city or state, and it will narrow by location.
  • Backchannel: Search for hashtags that have been published in the past. Doesn’t seem to go back farther than about a week, but could still be handy for covering events.
  • UMapper: Create a map of real-time tweets in a given location, about a given topic or hashtag. A bit more complex that the previous click-and-go applications, UMapper requires you to build your own map. It’s something that could provide good supplementary visuals online. There’s just one caveat to be aware of when using geotagged tweets.

What Twitter features or mashups do you use?



Playing with Platial

10:39 pm by Heather Billings. Filed under: API
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If you’re not familiar with Google Maps by now, there’s very little hope for you. (Kidding, but not.) What you may not know about are the many other mapping services out there. Platial is one that I just learned about and think is possibly more useful than Google Maps when you’re looking for specifics.

Here’s a quick example I did using pictures a friend of mine and I took in Mesa, Ariz. last September.

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Powered by Platial

Pretty cool. You can tag photos with given categories, meaning that if you want to find coffeehouses (always popular) near you, you can click on their cafe logo.

It’s not without its quirks, however, so be forewarned. When I put in the zip code for Phoenix, it put me in Morocco. I had to zoom out and pan halfway across the globe to put my first pin in. A friend of mine also got taken to Morocco, then got put in France when she tried it again. About as accurate as throwing a dart at a map to find out where you are!