You’re doing it wrong

 
 

You’re doing it wrong

Twitter is extremely useful beyond the “I had a ham sandwich for lunch” or the “I’m watching Sanford & Son” tweets. There’s a lot you can do with 140 characters of text. Lifehack.org has a few suggestions.

Quick Human Answers – Ask folks on your friend’s list which digital camera to buy for under $300 US, and you’ll get back a stream of responses.

Conference / News Briefings – The last several major tech events were covered by Twitter. I heard about the Apple iPhone faster through Twitter than I would via blog surfing. Similarly, I’ve watched people in San Francisco report earthquakes that took news sources hours to confirm.

Friendsourcing – Last Tuesday, I asked about a web designer for a project. I got back 14 emails in 10 minutes from different sources on Twitter. It’s a great place to find folks to help with things. We once helped a friend out of a bind when he got stuck at an airport, strictly by Twitter.

Micro-Attention-Sharing – Lots of us use Twitter to direct folks to blog posts we’ve written, news we find needs sharing, or entertaining things we’ve found on the web. It’s *like* using del.icio.us to share, but it’s instant, and you wouldn’t drop 100 links on someone in Twitter in a given day.

Direct People to Good Causes – I’ve seen plenty of posts of someone doing a walk for hunger or a collection for diabetes. Twitter allows people to use their friend lists to propagate that information faster, and try to draw more direct help down to a problem.

And Twittown writes of two users who covered the fires in California in October of 2007.

“Twitter users Nate Ritter and Viss have been busy posting rapid-fire updates of the current wildfire situation in Southern California. Both of them are on the scene in San Diego, and they are doing an excellent job of providing information and news about evacuations, meeting points and anything important that local residents would need to know. Viss is also on Flickr and he’s posting photos.

Nate and Viss are using the hashtag #sandiegofire. Twitter users can enter “track sandiegofire” in SMS or IM and receive notifications whenever a tweet goes out with that tag in it.”

What else can you do with Twitter? Check out these three links.

Twitter

Playlistism

I’m sure you remember the worst of the DJs you’ve ever run across, it doesn’t matter if it was at a party or someone playing their favorites at the office. The experience of listening to the best of Abba, Debbie Gibson b-sides and the Vanilla Ice/Limp Bizkit mashup album is seared into your psyche for eternity.

According to the Urban Dictionary, Playlistism is defined as “discrimination based not on race, gender, or religion, but rather on a disturbingly horrible iTunes music library discovered through a school or job network.”

Thanks to the amazingness of the interweb, now everyone can create and share their wonderful taste in music with millions of people quickly and easily! Mixwit and Muxtape are two services that help you do this.

With Mixwit, this service helps you find mp3s already hosted on the internet somewhere, allowing you to link to each song from their site and share the mix you’ve made. Muxtape allows you to upload actual songs, up to 10 of your own mp3s. You can share that playlist with your friends too.

Not sure where I heard this, but it sounds about right, “Hell is other people’s music.”

Mixwit
Muxtape

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing takes a function or project normally done by an individual and outsources to the public, Wikipedia is an example of this. Sometimes there is financial incentive to participate in a crowdsourced project, as with Predictify.com, but usually not.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is an innovative crowdsourcing tool that uses “artificial artificial intelligence.” Mechanical Turk utilizes a network of humans to complete tasks submitted by site customers, completed tasks are then incorporated into the customers applications.

Dolores Labs is a company that helps organizations best use Mechanical Turk to solve problems. Some examples of how they have used Mechanical Turk -

O’Reilly Media wanted to find the sentiment of thousands of blog comments on a news event. In less than 24 hours, every comment was labeled “pro� or “con.�

Zvents collected 100,000 hand labeled judgments to classify local events as whether or not those events might be interesting to people. Zvents then used that effort to train their machine learning event classifier.

Prices from popular shopping sites, many of which are impossible to accurately scrape, were extracted.

Scribd, a YouTube for documents, classified thousands of documents uploaded by users and used that data to build an automated classifier.

In September 2007, Steve Fossett, a famous aviator and explorer, went missing while flying over the Nevada deserts. Using Mechanical Turk, 50,000 people searched through satellite images provided by Google to hunt for the missing aviator. These online volunteers scrutinized images of the 17,000 square mile area where Fossett’s plane is thought to have crashed. This innovative use of distributed search showed the usefulness of the technology.

Mechanical Turk

 

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