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Twittering State by State

Just a quick look at this interesting Twitter directory. OH NOES, NOT ANOTHER TWITTER DIRECTORY! Yepper, here we go. Twitter States at http://www.twitterstates.com/ is a directory letting you browse Twitter users by US state.

Just pick a state and you’ll get a list of users from that state on the left and a bunch of weird eBay auctions on the right (I ignored those.) Listings include a full description of the Twitter-er, a information on how many friends and followers they have, and a calculated average of how often they tweet per day. Wow, some people tweet a lot…

A little additional information would have been nice, like special icons for verified accounts or “official” accounts (or maybe I just didn’t come across one?) Furthermore, this is only broken out by state, not city. I’m not sure how long it’s been around but it doesn’t have tons of registrants yet; potentially a good way to quickly find users in a certain state when news breaks. (Another would be to use Listorious or another Twitter list directory. It’s amazing how many state-based lists there are.)

You know, while I was going through this I was struck by how many other-than-human Twitter-ers I keep coming across. Maybe we need a new directory: nonhumantweeters.com . A place to put all those cats and birds and bridges and other things that aren’t biped-shaped but still manage to rock a tweetstream….

Google Localizes Google Suggest, “Improves” Spelling Suggestions

Google announced last week a couple of improvements in its regular search engine. I wasn’t thrilled with either of these improvements, though I can see how they will make casual searching easier.

Google Suggest has now been tailored to specific areas in the United States in addition to specific countries. So if you’re in North Carolina and you search for Hurricanes, you might get suggested pointers to the professional hockey team before you get pointers to things like hurricane preparation and information about hurricane season. I wish there was some way to turn this off; often my searches don’t have much to do with geographical area. I did find that just moving my search to google.co.uk changed the suggestions, but in some cases the suggestions were for things in the UK…

Google has also implemented more spelling suggestions for names. You’ve probably seen that if you do a search and misspell a word, Google will suggest the correct spelling and that’s okay 99% of the time. But when I’m searching for a name, it can be a bit annoying, because Google not only suggests the correct spelling but goes ahead and chucks what it thinks is the correct spelling into the search results.

Say I’m searching for Carolynn. There are plenty of people named Carolynn. However, there are more people named Carolyn and Google will a) suggest that as the correct spelling and b) put Carolyns in my search results. With all those Carolyns I might miss Carolynn Carey, the romance writer, Carolynn Bunch, the equine photography professional, and the artist Carolynn Desch. If you want to remove Google’s well-meaning results from your search, just put a + in front of the name you’re trying to find: +carolynn. It’ll change your results considerably (though strangely the result count doesn’t change much.)

(This also works for non-names too: try searching for chocolatte and then +chocolatte.)

And as long as we’re talking about spelling improvements, lemme mention that Google has also expanded its auto-correction in spelling to 31 languages across 180 domains with “more to come,” it is promised.

Google Allows for Refining Searches by Location

I think I was about five years off. Several years ago I was thinking about the potential for location-based searching, and I thought it would be a big deal Real Soon Now. But it’s only really taken off in the last couple of years, and it’s only now that Google’s overtly introducing it into the main Web search. Remind me not to try to time any stock purchases.

Anyway, Google announced Friday morning that there’s now an option to refine your searches by location. But you’ll have to make sure your “Show Options” nav is open, or you’re gonna miss it.

I did a Google search for pizza then opened the Show Options nav on the left. All results included “Social” and “Nearby” links, and opening the Nearby link refreshed the search results so they did, indeed, show pizza places near my location. And most of them were actual business Web pages, with only a couple of directory results (one from Yellow Pages, one from Yahoo.) In the middle of the results is a large Google Map with a list of businesses picked out by the usual red pin markers.

There were also options to change the location or change the scope of the locality (either city, region, or state, and it defaults to region.) I changed the region to Boston (except why would I eat pizza in Boston when all that awesome seafood is available?) and got an instantly-refreshed list of results.

Combining this search filter with other ones was kind of hit and miss. I was certainly able to combine this local search to limit it to only pages I had visited before. On the other hand when I tried to get the latest results for pizza in Boston it seemed to fail, as did an effort to limit my results to a certain kind of content.

When I’m looking for local business information on Google I’ll usually start with a Google Maps search and then use the information gleaned from that search to expand into regular Web searching. This handy search filter is going to let me skip a step.

Twitter Rolls Out Local Trending for Some Areas

Twitter is interesting when looked at in a global sense, but even more interesting when you can delineate and narrow down what’s being tweeted. You can do that of course by searching, and more and more you can do it geographically. Twitter is helping that somewhat with their new “Local Trending” service, but unfortunately the sites that are getting local trends are somewhat limited.

Let’s back up a minute. Twitter’s “Trending Topics” are those keywords and hashtags that have become popular in recent tweets. It’s interesting to look at those trends in the aggregate, but as you might image trending topics in your area as a result of recent events — like weather activity, a conference, a concert, or something else location-based — could also be useful.

Trending topics show up on your Twitter home page. You have a “trending” partition on your right nav that defaults to global trending topics, but which you can change to a fairly limited number of areas — more about that in a couple of paragraphs –

Click on a trending topic to get a search result for that topic. (As far as I could tell, that search is a global search — your look at the trending topic is not limited to a particular geographic area.)

Twitter is “working on it” but at this writing has only a limited number of trending topic areas. Available countries include Brazil, Canada, Ireland, and the United States. Available cities include Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, São Paulo, and Washington DC.

Cool idea, but it’ll be a lot cooler when I can see trends for stuff that’s actually nearby!

Local.com Starts Up Events Site

Local.com, which as you might imagine covers geographically local business search, has launched a new events site at http://events.local.com/.

When you visit the site it takes a guess at where you are (you can correct it if it’s wrong) and from the front page gives you a list of what’s happening in your area, including music, festivals, conferences, sports, family-friendly events, etc. Click on a category and you’ll be taken to an event listing.

Now here’s the weird part: the event listings default to listing by event popularity. HUH? In other words, event listings are not in date order. If you want to go to Local.com Events and just get an idea of what kind of live music is playing this weekend, you’ll have to resort the event order before you do anything else — that’s if you even notice that the events are not in order of date. This strikes me as a bit silly; it seems to me like date-sensitive information should be sorted by date first. If you want to offer other sorting options fine, but if I go to an event listing and the first event is tomorrow and the next event listed is in March, my first conclusion is going to be, “Wow, this site doesn’t have much available.” It’s NOT going to be “Gee, I guess I should double-check my sorting options!”

(If you do sort by date, you’ll occasionally get oddness. I looked at sporting events in New York City and found several events at the same address taking place at midnight on the same day. Placeholders for other upcoming events?)

Anyway, The event listings have detail name, link, and time, but unfortunately there’s an address instead of venue name for the ones I looked at. There might be a game at so-and-so stadium, but Local.com events only lists the address for so-and-so stadium, which people might not know.

But you can get around that with the search feature. You can search for events, performers, and venues. So for example you might look at sports in New York City and find several events at 4 Penn Plaza, New York, New York 10001. You have no idea where that is. But you do a venue search for Madison Square Garden and you get that address and all the events taking place at that event. So if you want to go out somewhere and you do have a venue in mind, search by that first.

Or you can do a more general search by keyword for events. I did a New York search for circus and found 142 results — everything from Ringling to Cirque du Soleil. Of course, the first event listed was for January 18th, while the second listed was for February 13th….

Find Local Food Producers and Providers With Food Hub

Foodie consumer? Food provider? If you’re in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington, and you’ve got $100, you might want to check out Food Hub, which is a business to business network designed to connect regional food growers with food buyers. It’s available at http://food-hub.org/ and it’s in beta.

There’s currently a special on the $100 a year subscription fee — if you sign up before the end of the year you can get a subscription for $80 a year. You can also get a “guest pass” if you want to try the service before paying for it. Using a guest pass I logged in to check it out.

As noted in the first paragraph there’s a limited number of places Food Hub is currently operating. Further, Food Hub currently only covers the following items: meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and herbs & spices. (Additional products, like drinks and processed foods, are coming soon.) If you go to the browse area of Food Hub once logged in, you’ll see 69 available companies. You have the option to filter the viewed companies by buyer or seller (there are slightly more buyers) or by type (farmers, fishermen, ranchers, grocery, etc.)

I did a search for apples and got about a dozen results. One of them, Sun Gold Farm, is a seller and has a page on Food Hub at http://food-hub.org/users/view/360. The page shows what the farm grows, when the produce is available, and terms of purchase like minimum order. There’s also contact information for the farm including phone number and Web site. Another result, Portland Public Schools, is a buyer and has a page at http://food-hub.org/users/view/699. This page contains information on what the buyer wants to buy, contact information, and payment information (Net 30, etc.)

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can set up a want list with deadline, which other members can view.

You can get more information about Food Hub at http://food-hub.org/pages/faq. There’s also information on the parent company, Ecotrust, at http://www.ecotrust.org/foodfarms/.

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