Learning Search

Exploring Your Local Twitter

There’s been a fair amount in the news lately about how Twitter is getting a bit more restrictive on its API. This is not new; Twitter has a long history of being hard on third-party developers.

That made me wonder about the kind of Twitter tools that are still out there. So I did some poking around and found there are still some cool Twitter tools out there, specifically for doing local Twitter search. Let’s take a tour.

Start With Twitter Itself

Since Twitter tweets are limited to 280 characters, searching can be a bit of a struggle, and when compared to full text resources like Web or search engines, it might even seem pointless. But Twitter does have a very robust advanced search available at https://twitter.com/search-advanced .

Towards the bottom of the page there’s a setting called Place, where you can enter a city/municipality.

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You can use that search element alone — no keywords are necessary — and you’ll get tweets from that area. Be sure that the Twitter search results tab is on Latest and not on Top!

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Twitter’s advanced search is great if you’re looking for a bunch of Tweets in one area. But if you’re looking for a particular category of tweets — like political ones — check out Categorized Tweets.

Categorized Tweets — http://www.categorizedtweets.com/

This site is in beta, but it’s still terrific to use. As the home page explains, “Our proprietary algorithm sorts a politician’s (or influencer’s) tweets into 9 key issues so you can get up to speed–quickly.” You start with a zip code — sadly, 90210 didn’t find any legislators, so for this resource I’ll be using 27925, the zip code for Frying Pan, North Carolina.

The first thing I get is a page with the elected officials for that area, from federal to local.

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Click on a representative. In this case, I’ll choose Dan Forest, the North Carolina Lieutenant Governor. It’s a little hard to show in a screenshot, but when I pick a representative, Categorized Tweets scans their last 200 tweets and divides them into categories including Gun Laws, Race Relations, LGBTQ, and climate change.

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For the reps I looked at, nobody posted about everything. Mostly it was like you see here, either plenty of posts or very few. Dan Forest’s most-heavily tweeted topic was Education. Click on the category name to see the tweets associated with it.

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I really like the way these are laid out to show all associated media and not just the text. Note, however, that retweets are included, which is why you’re seeing a Mark Johnson tweet in the Dan Forest timeline.

In addition to this zip code search, Categorized Tweets also lets you review tweets by influencers and by category — you can look up economy tweets, for example, and then choose a politicians from whom you want to see tweets. Definitely worth a browse!

Twit Job Seek — http://www.twitjobseek.com/

To be clear, Twit Job Seek is not so much an independent Web site as a way to format searches before passing them to Twitter. But it’s very good at that. The front page prompts you to enter the kind of job you’re looking for and a location. You can also specify if you’re looking for “freelancing” type gigs and if you want your search to include job-related language (I recommend ticking that box, especially if you’re using amorphous words like writer to define your job.) You can also specify the radius of your search.

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Instead of going to its own results page, Twit Job Seek formats your query and takes you to a regular Twitter search results page. As always with Twitter’s search results, make sure your results tab is on Latest and not on Top!

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Less interested in job searching and more interested in the Twitter zeitgeist in general? For that you want Trendsmap.

Trendsmap — https://www.trendsmap.com/

Two things to know about Trendsmap: first, it’s a pay site. There’s enough free in it that I find it worth using, but to get right down in the bones you’ll need to pony up some money. Second, I could not get this site to work in Chrome. At all. I finally got it running in Firefox.

When the site first loads it is a map covered with Twitter tags. It’s slow and unwieldy, or at least it was on my Ubuntu rig. There’s a layers button at the top left of the site. When you click on it you’ll get some options (I’ve shaded them in yellow on the screenshot below.) Before you do anything else, unclick the “Trends” option. Those tags will disappear and you’ll be able to navigate the map.

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Once you’ve navigated around the map (it works like Google Maps; you can zoom in and out using controls at the upper left part of the page, and move the location of the map by dragging) and found the place you want to see tweets for, turn the Trends layer back on. Much smoother that way. Here’s Omaha, Nebraska.

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Click on a tag you find interesting and a panel will open with relevant tweets.

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There’s a lot more you can do with this site if you’re a paying customer; subscriptions start at $25 a month or $250 a year. For myself, I find it useful for exploring trends in places I know absolutely nothing about (hello Omaha) and using the hashtags I find as a jumping-off point for exploring Twitter proper.

Seekatweet is another site that I can’t quite get right in Chrome, but it works well enough to use. I’m not sure it’s even being developed anymore, but it’s fun to play with as your searching can get as precise as address-level.

Seekatweet — https://www.seekatweet.com/

I can’t get the Pricing or About or Contact links to work. When I look at the Twitter account for the person who apparently developed Seekatweet (@scotiasystems) I see that it’s tweeted only once in the last two years. The apparent Web site for the Twitter account is still active, but maybe the developer’s found something else to do.

In other words, this might be a zombie site – just running, not updated, not supported. But I’m going to tell you about it anyway because its search offerings are very specific and as far as I can tell it still works.

On the front page you can enter an address or start typing in a place name. To take a random example, the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

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I didn’t find that this worked well without keywords (might have just been where I was searching) so take advantage of the keyword search. There’s also a “radius” search with no radius specified. It can’t be kilometers, at least I don’t think so, because 6000 kilometers would be something like 3700 miles, right? I looked at the page source and that didn’t clue me in.

At the end I just left that setting alone, because searching just for the ball of twine location and the word twine worked fine:

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I don’t see Twitter getting cozy with third party developers again for a long time if ever. But there are still nifty tools to use for exploring Local Twitter; you’ve just got to look around a bit.

Categories: Learning Search

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