Introducing NeighbourTweet

NeighbourTweet is a small, simple, experimental prototype that i built. It can show you a stream of tweets from around your current location (within ~25km). Despite its simplicity, i’ve found it quite nifty and captivating so far. I usually just put it in a new browser window on my secondary display and let the tweets roll by. I’ve also found that NeighbourTweet works much better and is far more interesting in densely populated, urban areas, but that’s probably just an obvious corollary of urban life in general. It’s a great way to find out about things that are going on around you and to find out about what people living nearby care about. You might also discover new people to follow, who even live nearby, which could lead to more interesting or involved connections in the future.

NeighbourTweet uses the W3C geolocation API to figure out your current location and then queries the Twitter search API using clientside javascript. All processing is handled on the client side and no location data whatsoever is transmitted to or collected by NeighbourTweet. Further details on how Firefox implements the geolocation API and where they get their location data from can be found in Mozilla’s location aware browsing FAQ. Obviously your current location will be transmitted to Twitter when querying their search API, but no identifying user information (such as your username) is sent as part of this request.

Unfortunately the geolocation API isn’t widely supported yet – to my knowledge, it’s currently only implemented in Firefox 3.5 (or later) and Safari for iPhone, so other browsers are out of luck for now. Fortunately, as other browsers gain geolocation support, NeighbourTweet will automatically support them.

One more thing in case you’re wondering about incorrect results: In my experience, the Twitter search API sometimes gets a little confused because apparently they rather err on being inclusive than omitting potentially relevant results.