[I’m finally trying to complete my “Twitter Basics” series (try looking for posts with the tag “twitter”)by posting a couple of backdated posts…in fact, the world has moved on so quickly that some of this series is already out of date…never mind]
I mentioned before, in the introduction, that one of the things that makes Twitter powerful/useful is that there is lots of public information. If you say something, that something is out there on the ‘net. That can be a scary thought, but the availability of all this information can be quite handy. “Tweets” can be processed by other tools in order to produce information about what’s going on in the world…right now!
This is the obvious place to start and I have already mentioned it. It’s now incorporated into the main Twitter Web Page, but is also available separately at http://search.twitter.com/
Here you can search the whole world’s public Tweets to find out what people are saying about a topic. You can also use advanced searches to find:
- messages to or from or about a particular user (not including direct messages, which are private);
- messages from near where you are;
- messages from specified dates;
The search site (and the Twitter home page) also list current “trends” – these are topics or hashtags that have been used the most recently. For example, when Michael Jackson died, he quickly made it into the trends list.
Sometimes Trends can be a bit silly and/or self-referential. For example, if I see “purple pigeons” on the trends list and decide to set my status to “Why is purple pigeons trending?”, then I will contribute to the worldwide “purple pigeons” discussion and continue the trend.
Again, these have already been mentioned here. Hashtags can be tracked at http://www.hashtags.org/
You can track a particular tag by going straight to http://www.hashtags.org/tag/<tagname> (replace <tagname> with whatever tag you’re interested in)
Hashtags shows you more than just the tagged Tweets, as Twitter search does.
The most useful tool I had come across for seeing my Friends/Followers was TweetWheel, but it seems to have gone. A similar tool called FriendWheel now seems to exist though. Give that a go!
There are lots of Trend visualisation tools. Try:
- TwitterFall – a cascade of Tweets matching a search or Trend in real time.
There are various sites that give Twitter user statistics:
- TweetStats shows stats on a per-user basis
My favourite pretty-but-pointless tool is Twistori, a colourful, scrolling list of what people love, hate, think, believe, feel and wish. I could sit and stare at it for hours.
This is really just a tiny set of the web-based tools that are around to manipulate the information in Twitter – they are the ones that I’ve found most useful as a fairly basic-level Twitterer.