Brent Finnegan -- May 21st, 2008
We started the Twitter feature in early March. So far, it’s been relatively successful. It’s served as a tip for several blog posts, tracked the fire at Dave’s Recycling, and served as a live blog for a political debate. But what can be done to increase its usefulness?
Media blogger Jeff Jarvis calls Twitter “the canary in the news coalmine.”
Last Monday, when an earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province, word of it spread quickly from witnesses on the shaking ground via Twitter, the mobile-and-web microblogging service where users share brief, 140-character-long updates with friends. Prolific blogger and Twitterer Robert Scoble at scobleizer.com insists he saw news of the quake on Twitter minutes before the US Geological Service posted the temblor and an hour before CNN and other news sites reported it.
Twitter works, and it’s fast. However, unlike Facebook or Gmail, Twitter is really only set up for one account-per-person. If someone already has a personal Twitter account, they can’t use their cell phone for their hburg Twitter account (at least, not the way it’s currently set up). Local bloggers like Scott Rogers are currently excluded from the hburg Twitter because they also post non-news related content.
The bottom line is: more hburg Twitterers means greater coverage on-the-ground. If hburg started following other local Twitter users like Scott, there would likely be more users (more “eyes on the ground”), more posts about all sorts of stuff, but a much lower percentage of news-related content overall.
This is still an experiment in progress, so let’s hear your input. Should we leave it the way it is, open it up to all local Twitterers, or something else?