Following on from my previous post, another fun tool to have a play with is One Million Tweets. Whilst the apps I demonstrated in the previous post mapped Instagram images, this web-based tool plots – you guessed it – Twitter posts in real time:
For me, it raises a whole lot of questions about privacy and how much information users really want to be sharing when they’re online – and whether users know how much information they actually are sharing when they post content. I monitor the location data I share with the network; sometimes I’ll turn it on (for example, if I’m at a restaurant and have eaten something fantastic, I might post a photo to Instagram that is geotagged so that anyone searching that restaurant can see it; another way that I use geotags is when uploading holiday photos to Flickr, so that I can keep track of where a particular image was captured), but most of the time it’s off. I’m not even particularly concerned about privacy or security – I just believe that part of being an engaged digital citizen is being aware of the contributions you are actually making.
You can sit there and watch located tweets populated the map on a global scale, or you can manually drill-down to get a closer look:
Or even a bit closer:
Or right down to street level:
The nosey creature in me finds this kind of thing absolutely fascinating, but the sensible human being in me is very cautious of information being geolocated right down to the street number. As I mentioned, it all comes back to what you’re willing to share – keeping in mind that, due to networked identities (i.e. distributing your online practices across a number of platforms and services), you’re often going to post content to one platform, but syndicate it to others.
This certainly isn’t an exercise in fear mongering but it’s worth thinking about.
On the other hand, I really love having the ability to see what people are tweeting about, and where they’re tweeting from. It adds to a rich digital landscape that ultimately makes the city more useful to me. The information we share contributes to a virtual network of information that could be said to lay over the top of our real world; that is, there’s much more to the places we occupy than buildings and services. At our fingertips, we have access to a world of information, from restaurant menus to user reviews and recommendations. This all adds to the effectiveness of the social map of our city that we perpetually refine.