Quite a few Twitter-related items in the news today. Twitter themselves finally take the charge instead of playing catchup with people building on their platform. The Election Center brings together all election-related updates from all over Twitter and allows non-twitterites to participate in the discussion. Nice! I like the way the messages appear without the need to refresh (definitely a feature to be added on the Twitter account pages). That’s obviously some code and ideas they inherited when they picked up the formerly-unofficial-Twitter-API-provided, Summize.
Speaking of election, Twitter and Summize… In my Rutgers group we actually started crawling the election-related Twitter messages quite a few weeks ago using the Summize (now “Twitter Search“) API. We will probably have a decent dataset (which we will be happy to share) when this thing is over. Maybe, given more time, we can do something more interesting. Dog, please let it be over already. And while you’re at it, don’t make McCain the president (he’s definitely losing on the Twitter follower count).
While Twitter’s election center is pretty simple and nice, one additional thing Twitter could have used in their Election center is Practicalist Ben’s word-cloud visualization for Twitter. Yes, another word-cloud, Ben admits in regret. But a damn nice one. Better than the cloud Twitter are featuring on top of their page, and the idea of deriving a cloud for each keyword (try: Obama vs. Palin), and the higher refresh frequency, and the better visuals… I like Ben’s better.
I hope Twitter wrote the code for the “Election Central” generally enough so that they can launch an arbirtrary set of “centrals” later. Why just election central when you can have the Twitter “Hurricane Ike” central, the Twitter “Olympic Games” central etc. In fact, why won’t let the user set up those “central” sites that collect all the information about their topic of choice? People are already aggregating messages outside of Twitter, anyway.
[Update: Twitter founder said they might do just that to this NY Times reporter].