"Geotagged Tweets" Coming To A City Near You!

Since the "location-based social network" train has left the station, Twitter has not only jumped on board, it appears to be the locomotive engineer. And now with 3rd party apps purchasing tickets on the "Twitter Local Express" the microblogging network is expanding its coordinates to offer up the longitude and latitude of all your tweets.

Biz StoneBiz StoneIn Twitter's blog back in August, Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone described the future of their geolocation feature as follows:

“We’re gearing up to launch a new feature which makes Twitter truly location-aware. A new API will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet. Folks will need to activate this new feature by choice because it will be off by default and the exact location data won’t be stored for an extended period of time. However, if people do opt-in to sharing location on a tweet-by-tweet basis, compelling context will be added to each burst of information.”

On November 9, the microblogging platform announced a developer preview for their Trends API which will provide API technicians with info as to what's trending in any location.

Raffi KrikorianRaffi KrikorianTwitter spokesperson Raffi Krikorian notes this in a Google Group announcement.  “We’ve heard from lots of users that trending topics, as seen on the twitter.com homepage and on search.twitter.com, are a fun way to figure out what’s going on in the Twitter-verse at this very instant. The one feature request that we’ve heard over and over, however, is “what’s going on where I am?”. To answer that, we wanted to give you all a heads up regarding the new “Trends API” that we’re launching. This API will open up trending information that is specific to a number of locations around the world.”

    “At a high level, there will be two new endpoints:

  •     - an endpoint to give a listing of all locations that trend, and
  •     - an endpoint to actually allow you to query by a specific location.”

While existing apps like Ubertwitter and Twitterfon (see previous blog - "Top Ten Twitter Apps for Mobile Devices") provide timelines for tweets within a radius of one's location, there is so much more a Twitter Geolocation API could provide.

Ben Parr from Mashable suggests that perhaps that a geolocation feature for tweets might require different search results dependent on what local info you are looking for. For instance, "while San Francisco will almost certainly have a set of local trends," (his) hometown of Princeton, IL (7200 residents) probably will not."

Location-based social networksLocation-based social networksAlso, location-based social networks will most likely be watching Twitter's progress in this area very closely, as I would guess that many would like to integrate with whatever ends up developing. Enhancements for Twitter mean greater functionality for the entire LBS space. The game-like appeal of Foursquare has already seen the advantages of integrating with Twitter, as well as Google Latitude as described in this video.

Tied into Twitter's real-time news and opinion features, its recently launched "List" functionality and its current beta testing of "Project Retweet", geotagging really could become Twitter's next big killer feature. All Aboard!

Nov 15, 2009
by Anonymous


Gr8 article Ron. I read it with sadness though. It has been my experience that living at the most southern tip of the world, (my beloved country called South Africa) means getting access to these interesting developments at the tail-end of the roll-out. We currently do not have Google Latitude as one example.

Let's put this in context: South Africa has a population of 47 million people and 85% cellphone penetration. We have been using mobile telephony for more than 13 years, and our technology is the best in Africa and among most developing countries. To give you another example, iPhone official sales in my country started in July 2008.

With 2010 World Cup Soccer around the corner, there has been a deliberate push to improve our bandwidth speed to ensure that information transmission by international media is fast and effective. Point here is, South Africa has what it takes to be included in key technological enhancement roll-outs and it is time that this is recognised by all.