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Catch Up Post – Part 2 – #weather_me
July 25th, 2009 by H-Blog

Been meaning to talk about this for a while now – have found it very exciting, and of obvious value for classroom use. We’ve had a lot of fun on our SMART Board with this.

http://www.twelve20.co.uk/uploaded_images.weather tweet a new twitter and google maps mash up

Basically, what we’re talking about is a weather map with weather symbols on it, just like you see on the TV weather forecasts, but located on a web page. Sounds pretty dull, eh?

But that’s where the genius starts.

This isn’t some remote, static weather map that all you can do is look at it. This weather map relies on YOU to tell it what the weather is like.

Initially, the only way to send information to the map was from a Twitter account. By tweeting following the format #weather_me <location>, <weather keyword>, <comments> you could send your real-time weather info to the map. And that was good.

But.

The format was fairly precise to follow. A misplaced comma or using a non-keyword to describe the weather, and all your good work was undone. During the last week of term, I used my Twitter network to try and cover the map in real-time weather info that they had supplied, and to a certain extent we succeeded. The only problem was that many of the tweets weren’t correctly formatted, and although I could see and understand them they weren’t recognised by the site. ReTweeting them provided a quick work around, and we certainly managed to cover the map in symbols (mostly sunny ones as I remember), but the downside of that, as pointed out by Kenny, was that I looked like I had colonised the whole of the British Isles. Given that the Tweet on the map that my class were most interested in was their own, this would have taken away somewhat from other classes who had Tweeted weather, and also prevented my class from finding out about other people who had been Tweeting from looking at the map itself. Also, it meant that people HAD to have a Twitter account to use the site, which given the blocking issues in schools could sometimes be too much to ask for.

Fortunately, the extremely technically gifted Matthew Tullett from twelve20 was watching and learning.

He tweaked the site in a number of ways, including the ability to send the weather from the site itself. This opened it up to anyone to use, not just the Twitterati. As long as you have a location/postcode and an internet connection you can use the site.

Really looking forward to using it in the new school year, and I am hopeful about building a network of educators/schools who will regularly supply weather info – after all, it’s so quick and easy. I think Alan was looking to help set something up, although I can’t remember off the top of my head if it was really him or not! Sounds like his kind of thing though, so it probably was! :-p

Only 2 things I was thinking would help improve the website:

1 – An area on the website form for a name, so that you can tell people who you are when using this interface (obviously when using Twitter, this is done by using your Twusername)

2 – Some of the symbols are difficult to see against the map – maybe make them a different colour, or give them an outline, or make the map a different colour?

Small tweaks I am sure you would agree.

Go on – try it here now (you are looking for the “you can add to map here” link on the right hand side). And it’s not just users in the UK, the map can go global too just zoom out.


6 Responses  
  • John writes:
    July 25th, 200916:11at

    This will be a really great site for classes to use. The idea also be adapted for collaboration other than weather. Thanks for sharing.

  • Matthew Tullett writes:
    July 27th, 200909:13at

    Thanks for the great write up for the weather tweet system. I and twelve20 are constantly trying to improve the system so your feedback has been really useful.

    Once again thank you.

  • H-Blog writes:
    July 28th, 200908:52at
    Profile photo of H-Blog

    Thank you both for reading and commenting.

    Using the weather tweet system has been brilliant Matthew – thanks for coming up with such a great resource and for being so responsive to our feedback as well: I totally forgot to mention that you had created a Google Earth mash-up when one of the Twitterati asked you about it! And John, I’d be interested to hear any ideas you had for working alng similar lines.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  • Hugo Russell writes:
    July 29th, 200917:23at

    H-Blog
    Good write up and example of a constructive review of an application. I’ll pass this on to some of our users. 😉

    Matt, if you could add to your features list a time line then the schools will be able to review the weather over a period and compare with forecasts.

    Stick in there groups and classes/schools will really go for it.

    Keep up the great work
    Hugo

  • Matthew Tullett writes:
    July 31st, 200911:14at

    That google earth mashup isn’t even fully on the web yet.

    Here’s the link though for anyone else who wants it.

    http://weather.twelve20design.com/google_earth

  • H-Blog writes:
    August 1st, 200913:14at
    Profile photo of H-Blog

    Hey there Hugo,

    Thanks for reading, and for the great comment!

    You are spot on with your suggestion. The time line is actually the very first thing I suggested to Matthew regarding the site – I had suggested he could have a ‘filter’ where you could select weather from last 3 hours, last 24 hours, 2 days ago, 3 days ago, etc…. but because I had already said it to him I totally forgot to mention it in the post! Matthew says it is top of his to-do list!

    Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.


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