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January 05, 2009

Twitter in an IR system

Saad Kamal wrote a blog post I found entertaining and interesting.  It's called "Use of Twitter in an information retrieval system".  

It's not a technical post and not full of maths and methods and things, it lists some cool uses for Twitter in IR systems.  The idea is that SMS can be used to get information such as order tracking, exchange rate conversions, can Twitter be used for the same thing?

One obvious issue is security, there have been some problems recently too.  I don't know how Twitter security works although I can have a guess.  I think it would need to be more robust.  The only person reading your SMS is you, on Twitter getting a DM is the equivalent maybe but...I'd want to see more evidence of good security before my bank sends me a DM telling me I have x amount of money in my bank account for example or something like that. Saad suggests universities being able to give you your term results via twitter too, I know a lot of students like to keep these to themselves.

I don't have any stats at hand but he says that people are sending less text messages and using Twitter more.  I'm not sure that's entirely right.  Please drop some stats through if you have them.  I know that I'm the only person in my family on Twitter, that a good percentage of my non-techy/internet friends don't know what it is, and that a good percentage of those that try it don't keep at it.  I think Twitter has quite some catching up to do still.

I love Saad's idea of paying for your Starbucks on Twitter but there would probably have to be a better infrastructure in place for you to type in “Pay @Starbucks48 $9.99” to @PaypalTwitter.  

Saad says that he thinks that Twitter should "build a platform that businesses can subscribe to facilitate these services" because of the API limit.  I think that there is a whole lot more to consider besides personal information handling such as how data can be sorted, stored and retrieved effectively.  Here we are talking of Twitter as a very different beast, and the technical challenges are not insurmountable in anyway but they are tricky.  

I guess we have to wait and see what the intentions of the Twitter boys are before we dream up any weird and wonderful things.  


Saad Kamal said...

Hay. I'm glad that you found my article interesting. :)

I agree, security is something that needs to be looked into. And I don't think twitter will have to go through much of a problem to ensure good security.

If we can receive bank statements, personal emails, passwords of various websites via Email and trust their security system completely...I think its just a matter of time before we'd feel the same way about twitter.

Extra layer of protection can built nto the system. Such as- a user might need to key in a 4/6 digit pin number with the DM as a signature.

And No, I don't actually have any stats to back that up. But I'm looking at these 3 things to make my assumption - 1. Rate of twitter's growth, 2. Growth of New Smart Phones (G1, Iphone) 3. More availability of Mobile Internet

So if a day comes when you have a twitter enabled phone on your hand and all your friends/family are using twitter, I don't think you would want to send that "SMS" ....

But anyway, this is only possible if they keep the service FREE. But if they choose a paid-subscription model then it will be a completely different story.

CJ said...

You're quite right Saad, and thanks for commenting here. I've searched for those stats too and I can't find them. Obviously if everyone around me used Twitter and it was all secure and good, of course I'd use that more.


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