One fascinating thing about Twitter is how the community is involved in shaping the way the product itself evolves. There are several examples of how this happens:
- For conversations, the community evolved method of @ replies.
- Retweets have become a great way to pass information along and attribute it to the person who provided this information.
- Hashtags are becoming even more popular, with almost a handful of hashtags landing up on the twitter homepage everyday.
- Location is'nt new either. Many users already provide the location information in their profiles. In addition several formats have evolved where L: is the most popular method for indicating the current location of a user. This was partly popularized by the Twittervision application.
By standardizing the support for geolocation in twitter, the service provides developers with several opportunities to build applications that are geographically relevant. One possibility for twitter is to capitalize on the wealth of user generated geodata:
- Think realtime meets local: It would be great for instance, to know that there is a live concert that everyone in my town is talking about right now!
- Local Advertising: This could be one direction that Twitter might be heading towards.
- Hyperlocal News and Activism: Social media is defining new ways to share hyperlocal news and build community involvement. Twitter is being used by several NGOs, blood banks and Local Police as a means to bring awareness and build campaigns. Applications built using geolocation information can accelerate involvement and social good at a local level.
BTW, here is an interesting stat about twitter users: From a large collection of twitter profile pages I find that roughly 60% of them have some URL associated with the profile. AND of those that have a profile URL, 92% already declare some location for themselves (irrespective of whether the location can be resolved correctly or not). While many worry about the fact that our location privacy is being lost forever; like any technology, it will ultimately be up to the community to come to a consensus on what is acceptable. For most part, I think that users are happy to share their location at some level of general granularity, in exchange of some (perhaps perceived) social value (meeting friends, finding local hangouts or for simply being a bit exhibitionist about what you are currently upto!).