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Twitter traffic is reaching such huge volume it is becoming statistically accurate and contains so much real-time data that it is becoming relevant. Like a survey, the larger the sample the more accurate the conclusions, so if 500 Twitterer's are giving real time information about a large-scale event the cumulative data can prove very precise.

This new source of data and it's accurary have not gone unnoticed by California authorities who used it to track the recent brush fires in real time. They found the Twitter data more reliable and more timely than aerial tracking in plotting the direction and progress of the hundreds of fires.

The new mass sensing data producted by thousands of individuals reporting their live situations has been compared to an ant colony's ability to chemically relay information. Might have homeland security ramifications, especially when GPS locators are factored in. Spooky and interesting at the same time.

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Comment by Patrick Ahler on November 28, 2008 at 7:18am
Great post - also, CNN has been using twitter heavily this week to gather news about Mumbai. I agree with Jared though, it has the potential to fuel the propagation of rumors. I also think twittering or tweeting or whatever only appeals to certain users (i.e. PR companies, extroverts, etc...) and when you don't have accurate representation from the majority your data will tend to have bias (Digg is a great example of this). Regardless it's going to be very interesting to see where democratized news networks take us.
Comment by Jared I. Kuroiwa on November 23, 2008 at 11:33pm
True that... Probably 50% of the people I see on Twitter are PR/Ad agency.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on November 23, 2008 at 7:16pm
Keith Rollman: They found the Twitter data more reliable and more timely than aerial tracking in plotting the direction and progress of the hundreds of fires.
Wow - That is fantastic PR for Twitter.
Jared I. Kuroiwa: Tools like Twitter allow half-truths to spread like wildfire.
This is true and, as a result, Social web tech savvy PR firms are making a killing.
Comment by Jared I. Kuroiwa on November 23, 2008 at 2:14pm
I like the aspects you bring up with the potential as it is so fast and I admit we've received leads through Twitter chatter... And we used Twitter chatter to find out the truth behind what the AT&T refunds would look like...

But have you guys read about the Motrin Moms http://adage.com/smallagency/post?article_id=132760? To me this is the "fire" that is frightening.

I don't like rumors that become larger than they should be without fact checking. Tools like Twitter allow half-truths to spread like wildfire. We've seen this also in the AT&T refund issue after the outage. I think that we pushed out the true story after fact checking as the original tweets were saying everyone gets $25.

Cameron's question on monetization... I think they are trying to figure that one out and there are a lot of articles out there. In fact, aren't we all?
Comment by Keith Rollman on November 21, 2008 at 4:36pm
Don't forget...most of these devices have video too.
Comment by Keith Rollman on November 21, 2008 at 4:34pm
I'm not sure they see this kind of real world data as their prime mission, but it certainly make ones wonder what you could do with it. Picture national focus group data from accross the country on product samples distributed at Cosco on one day (with instant geo and demo breakdowns). Or, more big brotherly...a combination of America's Most Wanted and Where's Waldo?
Comment by Cameron Souza on November 21, 2008 at 3:03pm
> They found the Twitter data more reliable and more timely than aerial
> tracking in plotting the direction and progress of the hundreds of fires.

Bizarre! That is a very interesting phenomenon.

> The new mass sensing data producted by thousands of individuals reporting
> their live situations has been compared to an ant colony's ability to chemically
> relay information.

I wonder how Twitter plans to really monetize all this activity.

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