11 May 2009
I love this example of Twitter users passing along data despite themselves. It pulls together so many threads: Processing for visualization, data mining for gathering facts from Twitter, geolocation via MetaCarta, even a bit of Wolfram to round it all out. Though there are all sorts of legitimate critiques about the role of Twitter data for tracking disease vectors, the interesting fact, for me, is that one person was able to leverage free form Twitter entries into a visualization of non-trivial data in just a few days time. This is a new world.
There are rumors that Apple is interested in buying Twitter. Alex thinks this may be an attempt by Apple to shore up its aging and less-than-reliable iChat infrastructure. I think it may be about data. Whoever makes Twitter less of a fail-whale service will be sitting on an unprecedented hoard of realtime data, the commercial possibilities of which are as yet unimagined. We are just giving our lives over to this massive dataset. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, but I do wonder what it will create.