Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finding gas using Twitter

(Edited December 2009: Embedded Twitter box no longer included, because #cltgas tag isn't being used at the moment.)

The box up above is a feed of notes people have posted on Twitter about gas availabilty in Charlotte. Posts with the keyword #cltgas will show up in the box, with a small bit of delay, human intervention and moderation using Google Reader.

It's not instantaneous, and it's not really high-tech. Someone with programming skills could do a better job than me, I'm sure. But it's working somewhat here in Charlotte, and definitely in other places like Atlanta. You can search Twitter at Twitter Search for the tag #atlgas and see an illustration.

What's so cool is that Twitter is easy to use from a cellphone, just the sort of thing you'll have with you while driving your dinosaur around town looking for fuel. And it's an illustration of how we can help each other quickly: Anyone in Charlotte for Hurricane Hugo or an ice storm can attest to the need for immediate information about basics like ice, gas, firewood, open restaurants and hotels. And sometimes, instant messages are the only communication method that works.

So check out Twitter. You might not need it now; in our neighborhood, many of us are lucky or smart enough to not be too dependent on gas. And walking and biking are certainly green alternatives. But live long enough and you will find a time when you need good local information from neighbors; Twitter can help.

Update Monday, Sept. 29: The Charlotte Observer added a link to Twitter Search on Monday for the #cltgas tag, and The Atlanta Constitution had a link up through the weekend for the tag #atlgas. Both used links directly to Twitter Search, so the results were real time. You can go there too for faster updates than you'll see here.

And Scott Dodd wrote about the shortage at Switchboard, a blog for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

1 comment:

Tessa Horehled said...

Absolutely! Much longer conversation I'm sure but I wrote up a quick piece on #atlgas back in September here: