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.
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.
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.