So Over Twitter

With the recent media coverage of twitter, the usual suspects have been writing newspaper columns about how awful they think it is. They point out the banality of it. They say it is narcissistic. They point out that it is very difficult to be profound in 140 characters. They say that twitter is a silly word even if it has a good heritage. All this is largely true but what they don't seem to get is the potential the platform allows. Twitter has many ways of piping information in (e.g. web, IM, txt, perl etc) and many ways of getting it back out again. It is this openness and ease of use that makes it so attractive to people who like to tinker with new ideas.

In August 2007 Paul Mison and his wife Candace created the AboveLondon twitter feed for Hackday London. This took predictions for viewing the International Space Station from London and piped them into twitter. Then in September 2007 Rob decided to take the idea further and produce twitter streams for a few more cities. He took data about passes from the excellent Heavens Above website and added in a check of the local weather to see if it was worth telling you about it; obviously if it was cloudy you wouldn't see anything. Over the past 18 months these have done a sterling job and have helped me spot the ISS a fair few times.

Last week, as I took the advantage of promoting Rob's service on twitter, he added a whole new bunch of cities. Now you can follow Over Cardiff, Over Aix-en-Provence, Over Birmingham, Over Milton Keynes, Over Edinburgh, Over Paris, Over Sydney, Over New York, Over San Fran, Over Hong Kong, Over Belfast, Over Dublin, Over Indy, Over Honolulu, Over Mauna Kea, Over Vancouver, Over Chicago, Over Joburg, Over Tokyo, Over Mumbai, Over Moscow, Over Athens, Over Rome, Over Berlin, Over Madrid, Over Amsterdam, Over Los Angeles, Over Boston, Over Auckland. If you use twitter and want another city added, just send @orbitingfrog a message.

If you prefer your alerts in ways other than twitter, Rob now lets you generate an RSS feed of alerts for your location so you can subscribe in your web browser, email client or probably even pipe it to your internet fridge. Great work Rob.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 03rd Feb 2009 (21:50 GMT) | Permalink
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