A friend of mine has been working on an interesting system for using the Twitter APIs. You see, he’s a huge fan of cruises. He decided to whip up a system that would pull tweets, but only those that were sent from within about 1km of a port where a cruise ship was leaving. It turned out to be quite cool, actually, as he was able to find people tweeting about interesting shit going on, aggravations, photos from onboard, etc. He’s working on turning this into a blog, the Cruise List. Except now he pulls from a lot of the common ports, and also filters on hash tags for cruise stuff. He can get a lot of neat data for different cruise liners while they’re in port this way.
Here’s the thing, though. Not long after that first idea, some major events occurred: the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. He turned his tweet-o-scope on the respective cities and again had an up-to-the-second Twitter feed from the folks down on the ground. He’s also started doing the same for selected NFL games, which you can still view at another site he runs, Assets In The Seats.
Now, I mention this for a few reasons. One, it just goes to show what a little ingenuity and some diligent effort with an API can do. Two, to pimp out his work because if he can turn this into a business, more power to him (and perhaps I can ride some coattails here).
But three, how fucking cool is that? Any major event you can get going on, instantly filtered down to a relatively small area. Custom event feeds, useful even beyond hashtags. Imagine if it was possible to do this at DragonCon but with the granularity turned down to be identifiable per hotel. Or getting a feed for Netherworld this month while everyone lines up for the terror.
And finally, four, this also excellent highlights how easy it is to start harvesting information from people who aren’t paying attention. To be fair, loads of Twitter accounts are perfectly open… all of mine are, in fact, because I mean for it to be open and I’m careful of what I send from them. But not all of the pics he’s able to pick up on are entirely meant to be public. He’s gotten some… interesting photos off those cruise ships. He wouldn’t be able to if people weren’t tagging exactly where they are when they’re sending this shit out, but it serves as a handy reminder to be sure of what you’re sharing.