I'm not convinced about Twitter, because at the core of Twitter is a problem: Twitter is the pumping station and all the rest of us are simply sampling the torrent from the fire hose. And most of us just give up. We can't sort the crap from the cream and there's no value in most of what's coming out of the hose.
When we deal with data in our daily lives we use a kind of three-step process. We say "What?", "So What?" and "What Now?". Put another way those three questions are saying "what's the data?", "what does it mean to me?" and "what am I going to do about it?". With Twitter we just get the "what" and more what, and then a bit more what. The companies that are making some sense to me are the companies that are creating apps that answer the next question: "what does it mean to me?" Because once I have help with that then I can get on with doing my stuff which is "what am I going to do about it?".
That's a long winded way of starting out talking about TrafficTweet. The name's pretty obvious, it's an iPhone app that lets me tweet about traffic issues. It gives me a nice interface to do that, means I don't have to write 140 characters of War and Peace, and keeps track of my location so that it puts the data in a sensible place. That tweet is then sent to Twitter (more on that later) and then collected back by TrafficTweet and displayed on a map in a form that I can interrogate easily.
Crowd sourced data, a great interface and all the hard work of synthesising and arranging the data done for me. I can get on with deciding to take another road or postpone my trip. I can get back to being an executive rather than a data analyst. The interesting thing is that all those tweets generated from TrafficTweet are available to everyone on Twitter. So Mobomo, the developers of TrafficTweet can only keep ahead of the crowd by the value added analysis and presentation that they undertake on the data.
I think this is a great app and the more apps like this we see the more chance Twitter has of prospering rather than churning. But come on all you people in Melbourne and the rest of Australia: Get onto the app store, download TrafficTweet (it's free ATM) and start tweeting about traffic. You'll add value and I won't feel so alone DownUnder. To see what the app can do just go into the app and search for "Los Angeles".