In this series of short articles, I’m looking at different ways of subject-tracking on the internet.
This article is about Twitter and its tracking feature, using East Dulwich as the example subject.
Twitter lets you share your thoughts with the world.
Once you’ve set up your Twitter account you can start “tweeting” your updates. Sometimes called micro-blogging, it’s a bit like writing status updates in Facebook.
Your tweets will appear on your page on the Twitter website. My page is at http://www.twitter.com/beatnic and is public.
People who want to subscribe to your updates can become your “followers” – don’t worry it’s not as cultish as it sounds.
Your updates will appear on the Twitter public timeline. If you’d prefer not to be so public you can “protect” your updates – in this case people will need to request your permission to follow you.
If you’ve set yourself up with an RSS reader, you can add Twitter update feeds of the people you’re following.
People are using Twitter in all sorts of ways, including:
- The BBC tweets news headlines and links to the full articles on its website
- US presidential candidate Barrack Obama tweets about his campaign
- Transport for London tweets traffic updates (using a service called twitterfeed to convert RSS items to tweets.
Twittervision is a mesmerising website showing what people are tweeting right now, and where they are in the world. It’s a mash-up of Twitter – using a feed from the public timeline – and Google maps.
Tracking subjects on Twitter
One of the features of Twitter is the ability to “track” subjects.
You can do this using by text message (SMS) and IM.
At the moment, this is limited to text message (SMS) only. [thanks to Andrew M for the correction – see comments]
Text or instant message Track East Dulwich to Twitter. You will immediately recieve a confirmation message.
That’s it. You’ll now receive updates for any public Twitter update mentioning the subject/s your tracking.
If you’re logged in to IM your updates will be by instant message only. Your text message updates from Twitter will be switched off until you log out of IM.
To stop tracking a subject, send a text or instant message with the words Untrack East Dulwich. Again, Twitter will send you an immediate confirmation message.
The rate of updates will very much depend on the subject you choose and the timing.
I’ve received one update for East Dulwich in the last three days.
Last night I tracked England and Croatia and received about 300 texts!
Cost of using Twitter with SMS in the UK
Sending a text to Twitter costs your mobile phone company’s standard text-message rate – watch out if you’re with 3 or T-mobile, according to this article on TechCrunch uk:
Note also that the 07624 in Twitter’s number (+44 762 4801423) means it is actually billed as “international” by 3 and T-Mobile, making it a pricey service for those who like to tweet via SMS.
Receiving text updates from Twitter is free in the UK. In the United States you pay.
The same Techcrunch article suggests a newly added a UK limit of 250 incoming texts per week.