Simple Embeddable Twitter Map Mashup

Earlier today, I was pondering the Digital Planet Listeners’ map on and the #digitalplanet Twitter feed we have running alongside it:

and I started to wonder whether there was a simple way of generating an embeddable map showing the location of people tweeting given a Twitter feed.

I couldn’t find one offhand, so here’s a simple pipe that will do the job: Simple Tweetmap pipe.

Here’s how it works: start off by grabbing a feed from Twitter, such as a Twitter search feed.

Using a Twitter feed URL as an input to the pipe, grab the feed and then find the Twitter username of each individual from the user’s Twitter URL. So for example, map onto psychemedia.

We now call on another pipe that calls the Twitter API to get personal details for each user who has a Tweet in the feed.

Here’s how that embedded pipe works: Twitter location pipe (it should really be called “Twitter User Details” pipe).

First, construct a URI that ask the Twitter API for the user details associated a particular Twitter username, (e.g. using the construction then pull the data back as a JSON feed. Finally, just make sure only a single record is returned (there should only be one anyway).

So the embedded pipe passes back an annotation to the original feed with user details. One of the user details is the user’s location – so let’s geocode it:

Sending the output of the location finder to item.y:location allows the pipe to produce a well formed KML and geoRSS output, that can be displayed in a map, such as the Yahoo! Pipes output preview map:

We can grab the KML URL from the More Options output and display the feed in an embeddable Google map in the normal way (simply enter the KML URI in the Google maps search box and hit Search):

If you want to embed the map in your own page, just grab the embed code…

To summarise the hack, here’s a quick review of the whole pipe:

So now if you want to plot where people who have tagged their tweets in a particular way are tweeting from, you can do :-)

Next step is to persuade the open2 team to start archiving appropriately tagged tweets and displaying them on a cluster map view over time :-) We could maybe even link in a timeline using something like TimeMap, the MIT Simile timeline and Google Maps integration library…?

Mapping Realtime Events on Twitter

One of the nice things about blogging in WordPress is the dashboard report that shows which other blog pots are linking in to your blog. One of my posts that’s had a couple of incoming links lately is Simple Embeddable Twitter Map Mashup, firstly from this post on TweetMapping Archaeology and then from Twitter Watermain Mapping – Part Two.

This latter post – plotting out tweets around the occurrence of breaks in watermains – also plots out a map showing people twittering about stormwater.

Which got me thinking, how about a Twittermap to plot tweets about electricity, gas or water being cut off?

By altering the search term, you can search for other events, such as earthquake or bee swarm:

If you want to search around a particular location, then this pipe may be more useful- locale based twittermap (the default search is for the word bid, but it works equally well if you’re wondering where the fire is):

Finally if you’d rather just use the URL for a Twitter search feed as the basis for a map, this pipe should do: map a Twitter search feed URL.

Demonstrating Twitter in Conference Presentations

Every so often I see tweets go by along the lines of “demoing twitter – please say hi”, and I typically respond with a link to a Twittermap pipe I created some time ago that takes a URL for a set of Twitter search results and then tries to plot the location of each Twitterer based on their location setting in their Twitter profile:

Having to find the URL a) of an appropriate search, and b) and the feed of that search is a bit of a pain though, so here’s a tweak:

Enter your username and conference hashtag (because these shout outs usually happen at hashtagged events, right?), some sort of hint as to how recently you want the tweets from (you can also enter a date) and the pipework should do its stuff.

The URL for the pipe is of the form:

so for example:

If you want a Google Maps version, use a URL of the form:

For practical use, it probably makes sense to bookmark the pipe and/or the Google map with the settings you require (in the case of the Google map, this might include setting the zoom level and central point of the map, and then grabbing the Google generated link for that map configuration).

So how does the pipe work? Lazily, that’s how – we just grab the required parameters and construct the URL that my original Tweetmap pipe required…

There’s an additional hack in the form of the Date Builder block which is used to generate a by-the-second time stamp that is passed as an additional made up parameter to the Twitter search API in order to get round any cacheing issues in Yahoo pipes; (the normal cacheing means that if you’re running the pipe several times in a session, you may not see any new results… Note that the Google Maps views might become stale because of cacheing at the Google end…)