Why I love web 2.0

Part of the joys of the social web and the community that has built up around it is the sheer informality of the whole thing. Take this, for example: a tweet from Loic Le Meur, CEO of Seesmic this morning:

Loic’s dogshit tweet

Now, how many chief exec’s have you heard of that broadcast messages to the world about how they have just trampled some dog poo barefoot?

Not enough in my view. Thanks for sharing, Loic!

Government news via Twitter

I was musing the other day about a method of aggregating news about government in one place. Justin Kerr-Stevens – government communications consultant, barcamper and general good egg – has combined a job lot of gov news sources into a combined Twitter feed, handily called HMGOV.

I’d never considered using twitter to pull all this together. The great thing about it is that you don’t need to be a twitter user to read it, as each twitter account generates an RSS feed. Also, if people want it in their emai boxes, Justin could cobble something together in no time with FeedBurner, meaning that however people want their news delivered, he has it covered.

Great work. And in the wake of the Civil Serf affair, it’s good to see someone else working in government starting a blog. It isn’t all bad news, folks.



lgSHOUT! is another little service I have put together for local government, following on from LGSearch, which went a little way to fixing the problem of getting relevant search results. lgSHOUT! tries to do something about communication.

The idea behind it is that it’s a Twitter for local government types. People can easily sign up and then post short messages to the rest of the community using a box on the home page, so no need to mess about with complicated blog editors and the like. People can respond to others by directly commenting on a shout, or by posting a shout of their own. Everyone can have an avatar and at the moment that’s handled by Gravatar.

So what sort of things might people want to use this service for?

  • Posting interesting links they’ve seen on the web
  • Yelling for help on something
  • Sharing good practice
  • Having a bit of a chat

It’s built on WordPress and the Prologue theme, and as such took about an hour to put together. The biggest problem was getting URLs that were pasted into the box to be parsed into clickable links – in the end I found this plugin. Bits of work to do include:

  • Trying to get it to work with TinyURL like what Twitter does
  • Giving the option of hosting avatars at lgSHOUT! as well as using Gravatar
  • Tidying up the design a bit

So, I hope it’s useful to local gov folk. If you’ve got any queries about it, or fancy having something similar for another sector, just let me know!

Twitter – awesome source of blog traffic

It was interesting to see the results of the little poll I have been running in my sidebar recently regarding how people read posts on this blog. Out of the 25 votes cast, only four people responded that they read posts via the links that appear on Twitter. The thing is, my blog’s stats show that the largest referrer of traffic to this site every single day is Twitter.

My blog automatically pings my Twitter account with a short message telling everyone that follows me that a new post is up on DavePress, and the title, so they know what it is about. There is a link there, so all people have to do is click that and they’re here. Magic – and much quicker than RSS. This is all done with the plugin TwitterTools by Alex King, and you can download it here.

Well worth it for anyone with a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Find a Tweet

I wondered what would happen if I included every public Twitter profile in a customised Google search. The result was a pretty cool way of finding what people are saying on Twitter on a certain topic.

You can have a go yourself at Find a Tweet.

One drawback is that it relies on the Google cache, so isn’t up to the minute accurate. But if you are looking for something you know someone said a little while back, you should be able to track it down.

World of Twitter

One of the great things about Twitter is the community that comes with it. Not just the community in terms of the people you follow, and who follow you, but also the network of people working to make Twitter more useful, or just more interesting.

Much of this is because of the API Twitter has released, making it dead easy for hackers to build stuff around the service. There is also a community run wiki gathering resources together, as well as a Google Group mailing list.

So what are some of the projects that are built around Twitter? Try these for size:

Have you got any favourites?